Friday, November 21, 2008


Author: Orson Scott Card
Published by: Tor Books (1991)
Length: 592 pages
Personal Enjoyment Rating: 3.5/5

This is science-fiction that is heavy on the "science." I couldn't decide if I would appreciate the novel more if I was a science whiz, or if having more knowledge would just frustrate me because I would see the holes in the different theories presented. Usually in these cases, I find that ignorance is bliss. It really aids my "suspension of disbelief!"

As the third of a series, it's difficult to provide a summary (which I'm bad at anyways). The first in the series, Ender's Game, I found to be entertaining and original. I had never read anything quite like it. The second book, Speaker for the Dead, had some disturbing aspects, but it was brilliant and emotional. I actually cried--not unusual for me in general, but not expected while reading sci-fi. It's taken me a couple of years to finally get to Xenocide (I waited forever and ever for a copy to turn up at the used book store in the library.) As I read this one, I kept getting a mental image of Card's brilliant mind spewing out an inordinate number of ideas and loosely gathering them all into one book. Interesting ideas--just too many.

Having said that, I still enjoyed reading it. The two main things that draw me to Card's writing are his themes about sociology and ethics. He comes up with the most bizarre characters and scenarios, but it manages to be "swallow-able" because of this framework of the inter-relationships of humans, alien species, and even computers. Card also constantly weaves in ideas of religion and faith, which never result in any strong conclusions (at least none that I picked up), except maybe that a society wants and needs to have faith in something, regardless of any evidence against it.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"These are the people who hold a community together, who lead. Unlike the sheep and the wolves, they perform a better role than the script given them by their inner fears and desires. They act out the script of decency, of self-sacrifice, of public honor--of civilization. And in the pretense, it becomes reality. There really is civilization in human history, thought Valentine, but only because of people like these. The shepherds."


  1. This book was really heavy reading for me, too. I had trouble understanding some of the theories and science he talked about, as well. But my husb, who can wrap his head around science better than me, said some didn't make any sense to him either. So there you go.

  2. I have never read anything by OSC, because I never heard of his books until after reading some of his political rants. I believe he's the only author I've ever rejected based on my personal feelings towards him. For some reason, I can't overlook it when it comes to his books. I'm not a big sci-fi kind of person anyway, so it probably wouldn't matter, but I did find it interesting that I reacted so strongly.

    I have heard other people say though that they can see very strong religious leanings in his writing. OSC is Mormon, and I've known some people who've commented that some of his works are loose retellings of events in the Book of Mormon. Having never read his work, I can't vouch for that, but these are Mormons who've said that to me, so take it as you will.

  3. Jeane,
    That makes me feel a little better!

    I know nothing about his political views. As far as the religious aspect, I personally find little resemblance to Mormon beliefs or writings. So far in the series, he seems to be presenting a very godless universe. I could be wrong, but I think sometimes people get out of a novel what they want to, even if it isn't there. I try not to do that myself, but maybe it's human nature. (And maybe I'm even doing it right now!)I'm not quite sure how to put this, but I think for people to raise his writings to some level of spirituality (?) is not accurate (?).
    And I know it wasn't you saying any of these things, it just made me think and ramble:-).

  4. I've only read Ender's Game, which I enjoyed, and Ender's Shadow which was bleh. I may reread Ender's Game but probably won't get into any of the sequels.

    The book/series Amanda is talking about is, I think, the Tales of Alvin Maker-- taking the coming to the new world ideas from the Book of Mormon. I haven't read it, but I'd agree that it doesn't really have much to do with the spiritual aspects of Mormonism.

  5. Isn't there another series he wrote set in the future that is basically retelling the Book of Mormon story? I heard of it, but never read it.

    My husband had issues with this author after reading some of his rants, too. At one point he was so offended he almost refused to read any more OSC books. Then he started in on Speaker for the Dead and couldn't put the series down!