Orson Scott Card Novels

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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

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The Buggers, insect-like aliens from another galaxy, had attacked Earth twice. The Buggers were only narrowly defeated the second time. To forestall an inevitable third attack, Earth has sent an invasion fleet towards the bugger home worlds, hoping to surprise them in their own territory. The journey across the galaxy will take 50 years. Now all that Earth needs is someone to command the forces and defeat the Buggers.

Towards that end, trained personnel monitor young children. The ones that show promising command traits are sent to battle school. At battle school the children are pitted against each other to see which ones could possibly be developed into future leaders.

Ender Wiggin is a mere six years old. His older siblings, Peter and Valentine had shown great promise and therefore his parents were encouraged to have a third child (Ender). Peter and Valentine were rejected from the program but Ender was accepted and sent to battle school. Less than 10 years remain before the Earth fleet reaches bugger space. The teachers at the battle school must use every possible tactic at their disposal to mold Ender into the supreme commanderÖeven at the risk of Enderís sanity. For Ender Wiggin represents Earthís last, best hope for survival.

This story is reminiscent of Starship Troopers by Heinlein, although it is presented from a different perspective. In Starship Troopers, the story is told from the perspective of an infantry soldier sent to fight insect-like aliens. Here, the action focuses on the training of the leaders of our forces instead of on the common foot soldier. The plot, while inventive, was fairly easy for me to figure out. However, the book is very easy to read (you can breeze through it in a weekend) and remains engaging until the end for most readers (about 75% of the people I know who have read this book didnít see the end coming). The character development is fairly deep for Ender and his siblings and represents a good effort for Cardís first novel.

Reviewed by: Alan

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Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

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The release of Enderís Game, Cardís first novel, firmly established him as a major talent in the science fiction genre. Card wrote several sequels to Enderís Game, but they took place thousands of years in the future due to the quirks of faster-than-light space travel. As a result, many fans felt unsatisfied with the sequels, even though they loved the original novel.

In a vast departure from the norm, Card wrote Enderís Shadow, a parallel novel to Enderís Game. A parallel novel takes place at the same time as the original novel, but is written from the viewpoint of a different character. This is a very difficult type of novel to write since presumably the reader already knows how the story will end. However, Card brilliantly executes this story by using a relatively minor (but engaging) character from Enderís Game and providing enough new material that the novel never feels repetitive.

Twice the Buggers, an insect-like alien race, have attacked the human race. The first two wars went poorly for Earth and so a battle school has been established to train new leaders for our military forces. An invasion fleet has been launched towards the Buggersí home worlds. Because of the vast distances of interstellar space, the battle school has time to turn out the supreme commander and his lieutenants before the fleet is in position to attack. The best and the brightest of Earthís children are recruited and brought to battle school to be trained as the future Napoleons of Earth.

Although Ender Wiggin eventually became the supreme commander, there were other candidates at the battle school. Bean, a small child even younger than Ender, possessed an uncanny strategic intellect and eventually became Enderís right hand man during the war against the Buggers. Card now tells the story of Beanís early years and his recruitment to battle school.

Barely surviving amongst the street gangs of Rotterdam, Bean used his vastly superior intellect to gain acceptance into a childrenís gang. Eventually, he molded his gang into a template for all other street gangs in the city. Beanís exploits attracted the attention of a battle school recruiter and he became the youngest person ever to enter the school. Once there he must use all his mental might to ensure that he becomes one of the few leaders that will have the chance to save Earth from destruction at the hands of the Buggers.

The first half of the book covers Beanís life before battle school and therefore covers totally new ground. Once Bean is recruited and sent up to the school, the action begins to overlap with the original novel. However, Card does a masterful job of constructing the action from Beanís perspective. Even some scenes that were included in the original novel seem fresh and new this time around. This is a very difficult type of novel to write, but Card executes it flawlessly. While this book did not have the surprise ending of Enderís Game (same ending, but we already knew the surprise), it is still a well-paced novel that did not fail to hold my interest. If you enjoyed Enderís Game, youíll love this book too!

Reviewed by: Alan

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Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

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Most of us probably heard the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty when we were children. Card takes the classic fairy tale and gives it a unique, modern spin.

Ten-year-old Ivan finds an unusual clearing in a dense, Carpathian forest. In the center of the clearing is a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves. Atop the pedestal is a sleeping maiden. However, Ivan detects a sinister presence beneath the leaves and runs for the safety of his cousinís farm.

Years later, Ivan is a graduate student in America. Shortly after becoming engaged, Ivan returns to his native land to work on his doctoral thesis. Unable to forget that clearing in the woods, Ivan returns to determine if what he saw was merely a young boyís fantasy. Finding the clearing just as he left it, he does not run away this time. Ivan awakens the sleeping maiden with a kiss and is transported into a kingdom that vanished over a thousand years ago.

This is a love story unlike any Iíve ever read before. Card touchingly describes the love that grows between two strangers from vastly different worlds. Deftly transferring between 9th century Russia and the 1990ís, Card tells the classic tale of witches, enchantment, knights and princesses. Card meticulously researched Russian folk tales to give the story an authentic Russian flavor. The original Sleeping Beauty tale had a happy ending, but Card keeps you guessing about the outcome of his version until the very end.

Cardís first novel, Enderís Game, featured a very inventive, engaging plot but scant character development. However, it still established Card as a major force in the science fiction and fantasy genres. With the release of Enchantment, Card demonstrates his growth as an author. Enchantment shows that not only does he continue to generate creative plot lines, but that first-rate character development is firmly within his grasp. Children from 8 to 80 can enjoy this book!

Reviewed by: Alan

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