Sunday, March 11, 2012


10 books in about 1 and a half months.

The books written by Orson Scott Card, settings in the futuristic world of Enderverse where genius kids were being trained to become military commanders.

Blue are the novels, red are short stories.
Of these, not reading A War of Gifts has no effect on the overall story at all.

I choose to read in the chronological order, starting with the first novel.
  1. Ender's Game
  2. Ender's Shadow (Note: The first 2 books take place in roughly the same time period.)
  3. Shadow of the Hegemon
  4. Shadow Puppets
  5. Shadow of the Giant
  6. Ender in Exile
  7. Shadows in Flight
  8. Speaker for the Dead
  9. Xenocide
  10. Children of the Mind
And it is very nice to do so. I get the sense of closure.
Although I got introduced into this series by randomly picking up and reading Xenocide years ago, which then needed me to read Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead to understand half of the relevance of the book, I disliked it due to the Catholic-based Community featured in Xenocide. That was the reason for me delaying reading the rest of the series until recently. I even was determined to not put any Buddhism inside my Science fiction at all. Make it as pure as Asimov's novels. I thought.

Well, at a reread, ok, let's start from the top.
Ender's Game is about military and genius kids. Military I do not like, I detest armies. They kill and do terrible things to fellow human beings. On the other hand, I like to know more about genius kids. How do they think? What are their psychological profiles? For one of my future novels. It turns out that the training is for defeating aliens, buggers (or formics) as they had invaded Earth twice. It mostly consists of playing a game in null Gravity in Battle School. Not only bearable, but interesting. Kid genius part, Ender is more that what you can ever hope for. I can identify with Ender a lot of the time. Feeling as he felt, seeing things as he does. He's so full of good and pain and love. Well, the movie version of it is finally coming out after 28 years after the novel.

Ender's Shadow is another good read, surprisingly fresh even just after reading Ender's Game. Same story, different main character. This time it's Bean we're following. A kid even more intelligent than Ender and a lot of gaps in Ender's Game are filled up with very logical portrayal that makes one love Bean, even if Bean is still learning how to love at that time. It just goes to show how Bean is even more clever than Ender and I love the way Card did it.

Shadow of the Hegemon tells of how Ender's brother, Peter became the Hegemon in name, and in the effort of becoming Hegemon in fact. And of Achilles, Bean's nemesis, as smart as the rest of the Battle School kids, but a being of pure evil as he killed anyone who has seen him in a helpless state. Even his surgeon that healed his bad leg. This is a story of how Bean saved Petra from Achilles. The plot was a bit slow, but the world politics was awesome. Along with the trill of the face-off between Bean and Achilles... it's worthy of a Death-Note-like battle.

Shadow Puppets shows the end of Achilles at last, but not before playing with the world politics and was making Peter a puppet. Peter's come back finally got some respect from the readers for him. Bean and Petra also had 9 children of their own. This tells more about love and the meaning of a human's life: to have kids. The pain of lost kids, the monstrosity of genetic manipulations on humans, betrayals and manipulation, world politics at the balance and the final, one cold blooded murder of an evil guy.

Shadow of the Giant was a very good ending to Peter's story as he finally united most of the Earth by the time he was old and was communicating with his brother, Ender. Ender who speaks his death by writing the Hegemon. Bean has to leave Earth with 3 of his children as they would never stop growing to finally die as a giant as a side effect of being the smartest humans on Earth, a genetic defect. Petra stayed on with 5 children for the one missing child and married Peter. This tale full of tears and compassion shows that to unite the world, one has to have the world's consent to want to be united.

Ender in Exile was a good comeback to the series with Ender in it and it shows just how lovable Ender is even after one get used to loving Bean. Ender found the missing child of Bean and reunited him with Petra via the ansible, instantaneous communication. Ender has to continue to travel from world to world in light-speed as he carries with him the last surviving formic hive queen known to us at that time, planning to restore her to life. This is full of subtleties of power and politics, one tearful letter from Ender to his parents, juvenile love, and how easily Ender disarmed Achilles II, Bean's son who believed that Achilles is his father.

Shadows in Flight is about Bean and his 3 kids investigating a formic ship and found-accidentally- the cure to their non-stop growing without having to give up the super intelligence. Such as it is that 6-year olds were doing genetic research, military strategies, and spaceship maintenance. Bean, a giant finally died due to his heart failure but not before he taught his kids to live like a civilised human community, even starting up a race of homo leguminensis (after Bean's name). A cool feature of the formic was revealed, and we got a very good ending of Bean. A tale about a father's responsibility and love. Especially delicious if you read this in parallel with Ender in Exile.

Finally, the main Speaker series: Speaker for the Dead.
Having read Xenocide, I was semi-familiar with the Riberia family and the Pequeninos, the second alien race to be discovered by humans, and Jane, the mysterious entity with god-like powers. But as I enjoyed the book, what little I remembered in Xenocide didn't matter much and the whole book just speaks out to me. It's as powerful as Ender's Game is even if it is of a different genre. Finally I get to see how the Pequeninos are like and marvel at Ender, 36 years old, handle things and made a covenant with the Pequeninos to live together in the same world, in the same universe.

Xenocide, the first one that I read, and it is very rewarding to reread it. It seems that all those things that didn't make sense then had a lot of emotional impact on the novel and those that I remembered was still as good. The people in Path, the Descolada, Faster than Light travel, even the Catholic background was nothing evangelical. I guess one has to be matured enough to know how to read these kinda things. It wasn't easy putting a religious community inside the novel, and Card did it just nicely.

Children of the Mind was literally about that. As we explore the lives of young Valentine and Peter created out of Ender's mind, we finally see the danger to Lusitania averted and 2 very happily married couple in the end. Unexpected outcomes, good read and also the end for Ender as we witness his funeral and his death spoken at the last chapter in this book.

The next book in the series is Shadows Alive, to put together these 2 lines of stories, where both the main characters are now safely dead, but their children lives on. It's one of the best Science Fiction series I had read, and also one of the longest.

As awesome as Foundation and Robot series are in ideas, but better than them in characters.

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