Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Why I Read It: I’m enraptured by the Enderverse!

Where I Got It: The library.

969454Who I Would Recommend This To: Folks who enjoyed Ender’s Game would probably like this book – it’s a great complimentary book.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, Scott Brick

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (2005)

Length: 15 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shadow Saga

I know that I kind of jumped out of order in which the books were written, but I couldn’t resist going back to Ender’s Game through the eyes of Bean. It was actually pretty cool to read the two books so close together. If you’ve read Ender’s Game, then you already know that Bean is pretty darn smart for his young age; you have to be to end up at Battle School. So this tale is about Bean’s origins and his journey to Battle School and then tagging along to help Ender save the human race. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, I would strongly suggest starting there instead of with Ender’s Shadow, and I believe both books would be an excellent read before the movie comes out.

Once again, Orson Scott Card shows his depth of understanding of the human heart and psyche. While not as moving as Speaker for the Dead, Ender’s Shadow still contained several poignant moments. Bean is yet another of the numerous orphans on the streets of crowded Rotterdam. He manages to join a small gang and comes up with a plan that changes the paradigm in his neighborhood. This, of course, brings himself and his little gang to the attention of the authorities who are ever searching for that talented few that will succeed in beating off the next Bugger attack.

Pretty soon, we are rocketing up to Battle School with Bean who has to learn a whole new way of life, including friendship and trust. Even though I already knew the outcome of the many confrontations from reading Ender’s Game, it was still nail biting suspense to see them through Bean’s eyes. Of course, there were a number of events that happened in Bean’s life that are not in Ender’s Game, keeping the reader interested even though the book’s ending is known.

My one complaint with this novel is that cleverness and knowledge seem to by accentuated in Bean’s character, even beyond what I would allow for a genious kid. Without spoiling anything, there is a scene where Baby Bean hides in a small thing of water for several hours. Now, putting aside the brain power and knowledge necessary to do so successfully, a hairless being that small needs to be concerned about hypothermia. These instances were few and small, but still I feel they detracted a bit from the overall novel, especially since I know what Card is capable of in Speaker for the Dead.

The audio production and narration was superb. The same crew played a role in this novel and that helps greatly in enjoying such a large branching series in audio format. Stefan Rudnicki, always a favorite, was Graff and he plays him so very well. It was great to have Gabrielle de Cuir and Scott Brick along for the read also.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: Bean has some good one-liners; learning about trust and friendship can be just as scary as having street smarts pounded into you; a good ending for Bean.

What I Disliked: A few exaggerated points that I felt were beyond even a genius child in a scifi story; why are there so few girls at Battle School?

This review is part of The Read & Review Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by over there to enjoy more book reviews.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Picabuche’s & Waffles’ snuggle was interrupted.

Why I Read It: Ender’s Game was excellent, and I wanted to continue the series.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who Do I Recommend This To: Fiction lovers of any genre.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, David Birney, & others

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (2005)

Length: 14 hours 9 minutes

Series: Ender’s Saga 2

Orson Scott Card set a high bar with Ender’s Game and I emphatically say that he not only surpassed that bar, but left it far behind. Speaker for the Dead redefined for me what intricate plot and character depth are.

Set ~3000 years after Ender’s Game, this tale takes place on a world inhabited by a sentient species referred to as the Piggies who have not attained metal working or agriculture or animal husbandry. Their culture is quite different from any human cultures. In fact, the humans are isolated to a single city, Milagre, and only a limited few humans are allowed to interact with the Piggies.

Milagre is primarily a Catholic Portuguese settlement. Novina’s parents were scientists that made it possible for a human colony, successfully combating an epidemic that took their lives, leaving Novina an orphan. Time passes and she becomes an apprentice to Pipo, along with his son Libo who both study the Piggies. Eventually, there are human deaths and a Speaker for the Dead is called to speak the deaths.

I love this idea of a Speaker for the Dead, a person who will ask the hard questions of the living to capture the full picture of the life lived of the dead, all the good and the bad. The people of Milagre have various reactions to the Speaker, Andrew Ender Wiggin. Many believe it to be taboo to speak ill of the dead, whether true or not.

This was a complex, beautiful, emotion-wrenching novel. Card’s strength in writing deep characters really shows through in this tale. Couple that with a well-thought out plot that includes details of a culture very different from humans, then you have a fully engaging story.

The audio production was excellent. Stefan Rudnicki is a favorite narrator and it is good to hear his voice again as Ender.

What I Liked: Everything. OK – Jane, Ender’s electronic friend; the Piggies; pealing back the secrets in order to heal a community; the short interview with the author at the end.

What I Disliked: I don’t understand the cover of the audiobook – I am not sure what it has to do with the book.

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, I am going to count this book as dark science fiction (vivisection counts as dark, right?). This event is still going strong until the end of October, so feel free to hop over there and join the fun.

BTIBMTGT: Orson Scott Card & Robert E. Howard

Books That I’ve Been Meaning to Get To (BTIBMTGT) is an idea from the depths and crannies of Lady Darkcargo (check out her stuff at Darkcargo.com).

On that note:

Why did I let one linger for ever and why have I avoided the other? Let’s talk. Come, sit. Tea?

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card is considered one of the important books in science fiction literature. Back when I was 17 or 16 I read the first in the series, Ender’s Game, and never made it any further in the series. I enjoyed the book, but didn’t get the ending. I also didn’t happen to have Speaker for the Dead on hand and throw those two facts in with moving off to college… But the excuses have to end. So this month I will be listening to Speaker for the Dead. Having recently read Ender’s Game, and enjoyed it immensely, I am most certainly looking forward to the sequel.

Robert E. Howard is famous for creating Conan, who started off life in a loincloth running around short story pulp fiction magazines in the 1920s and 1930s. For years I heard what great stories the original Conan were (mostly from My Main Man). Earlier this year I read my first Conan collection and certainly had mixed feelings; the writing itself was excellent but there were also gender and ethnic equality issues. So I thought I would give this short novel a try. Personally, I am curious to see if the difference in media (pulp fiction magazine versus publishing house book) equals a difference in writing style.

Review of Ender’s Game

Review of Wolfshead

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Why I Read It: Recently finished Earth Unaware and wanted to reread this one.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: Scifi Freaks Unite! If you haven’t read this, it is a classic for a very good reason.

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, & cast

Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America (2004)

Length: 9 CDs

Series: Ender’s Universe Book 1

Wow. Just wow.

This book was super intense with a myriad of little kids being pushed into saving the human race; they had no childhood, growing up before their time. Orson Scott Card gifted us with the far-future tale of humans versus the insect-like aliens, known as the Buggers. The government selects kids for their intelligence and temperament and Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin is the next hot schiznit out there. At age 6.

Once Ender gets onto the space station, there is The Battleroom. This is a pretty important room, as it is training the kids to think, react, and fight in zero gravity. Just when Ender gets his feet under him, the teachers pull his shoes out from under him, forcing him into another untenable situation. The competition between these kids is fierce, in and out of The Battleroom. The tension in this book is kept high by never quite knowing what obstacle is going to be thrown at Ender next. Back on Earth, Ender’s two older siblings have plans of their own. Ender’s ruthless, even sadistic at times, brother Peter has delusions of grandeur. He’s willing to use his sister to obtain control – total control.

Orson Card truly put together a twisted, harsh, thoroughly entertaining read. The story maintains a tight aspect of great need, the need to keep the human race alive in the universe. The reader often catches glimpses of the adults in the story privately regretting putting Ender, and all the other kids at Battleschool, through such hell. Having this human side to the procrastinators of the story really rounded it out and made it a classic.

Stefan Rudnicki (have I mentioned that his voice could turn sandpaper into Dove chocolate?) performed the majority of this book. His voices for the little kids were awesome (a side I hadn’t heard from him before) and his rendition of the kid slang was great, often having me laughing. The rest of the cast also gave a quality performance.

What I Liked: Battleschool; Peter’s cruelty is well portrayed; The mutual love and respect between and Ender and his sister; the secret final Battleschool location and tests; the ending of the book was incredibly moving.

What I Disliked: Hmm…. For some reason, I kept wanting to give Peter a British voice; I blame the Narnia movies.

Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston

Why I Read It: My man & I are Orson Scott Card fans.

Where I Got It: From the publisher through Audiobookjukebox.com (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Space opera fans, Ender’s Game fans

Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Emily Janice Card, & cast

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2012)

Length: 12 CDs

Series: The First Formic War, Book 1

Let me say this up front: This is one of the best books I have listened to this year so far.

Set in the same universe approximately 80 years before as the well known Ender’s Game series, this book covers the first contact between humans and the alien Formics (AKA Buggers, Ormigas). Victor (Vico) Delgado is a free miner, living with his family on the ship El Calvador mining precious metals from asteroids. His young life is about to take a turn as his best friend, and second cousin, Allejandra decides to leave El Calvador to live with the Italians. Bereft of his close friend, and perhaps his first brush with love, he must adjust. But while he is trying to adjust, things start to happen pretty quick, like cousin Edimar spotting something unknown in the starry sky moving at incredible speed – perhaps an alien ship.

Lem Jukes is an intelligent man, but driven by corporate greed. the Jukes Corporation have a new toy – a big toy that can disintegrate asteroids of various sizes, freeing up the metal for easy collection and huge monetary gain. Lem also has an overbearing father, Ugo Jukes, head of the corporation. Lem is driven to stand on his own and prove his worth and he has many opportunities in this story to do so. Lem turned out to be one of the more complicated characters in that he has some inner conflict going on.

I really enjoyed how this tale captured space culture; those bred and born in space have physiological differences to those bred and born in a gravity environment. The laws of physics, theory of gravity, and the known limits of human endurance weren’t ignored willy-nilly in this space opera, which was quite refreshing. The characters started off simple, in their little worlds, doing their every day deeds; and then they quickly had to grow and morph into something more as the threat of alien invasion became apparent.

The full narration cast was awesome, a truly quality performance. Stefan Rudnicki performed as Witt, a leader of the elite international armed forces called MOPS. Rudnicki’s voice could make remote control assembly directions sound intimate and exciting. Vico and his myriad of emotions he exhibits throughout the tale were portrayed well by the narrator. Emily Janice Card, the daughter of Orson Card, had a smaller performance but one that gave her the opportunity to show off her praise-worthy ability to roll her Rs. This audio version includes a short interview with the author at the end of the book (I love such bonuses).

What I Liked: The free-miner culture of close-knit family; alternately hating and praising Lem Jukes; Imala Bootstamp who shows up late in the tale (no nonsense lady); Mono, an aspiring machinist; there’s always something going on in this book, from start to finish; zero-gravity and how it affects everything.

What I Disliked: I now have to wait months for the next in the series. Sigh.