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Bookends: The Complete Story of Ender’s life after the Formic War February 18, 2015

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Bookends: The Complete Story of Ender’s life after the Formic WarEnder in Exile

By Dan Davidson

September 10, 2014

– 810 words –

 

Ender in Exile

By Orson Scott Card

TOR Books

468 pages

$9.99

 

As Orson Scott Card has explained a number of times, Ender’s Game, which would eventually win both of science fiction’s major awards, was actually written to give the necessary background for the second book in the sequence, Speaker for the Dead. About the middle of chapter 15, the book’s last chapter, Card introduced some elements that would lead directly to Speaker. He did it with great brevity, skipping over several years worth of Ender’s life to have him find the Hive Queen’s egg and determine the course of the next part of his life.

Then he went on to write the next several books about Ender, as well as the side series (the four Shadow books) dealing with events in the lives of some of the child soldiers in Ender’s ’toon.

Eventually, some six years ago, he got around to filling in the story that was left out between pages 314 and 315 of my paperback edition of the original book. As you can see, the page count for the “lost years” is longer that the story of the Bugger War (so called because the aliens were insectoid).

The 12 year old boy who led the killing of an entire race of aliens (without knowing what he was doing at the time) and who killed two of his school mates (and didn’t know that either) when he was placed in untenable physical danger by them, could not be allowed to return to Earth. Everyone would want him, or fear him. That the adult officers of the fleet, who trained him and his fellow child soldiers, were put on trial for their deeds, was a pretty clear sign of what might happen to the boy who was at first lauded and later pilloried as a xenocidal monster.

To protect him it was decided (again by others) that he must go to one of the colony worlds that the death of all the Formics (Buggers) had made available for humanity to use in their absence. It happened that the aliens used pretty much the same ecosystems as humans, and the real estate was now available.

There are various scenes in the book that do not involve Ender directly, though they are largely with people – his former teachers, his siblings, his parents – who are trying to figure out how to handle his future. Some are with people who want to manipulate him.

For Ender, there are more situations in which he has to figure out how to overcome adversity. His default mode for dealing with conflict has always been to deal with it so thoroughly that it ceases to be a problem in the future. This is why those who threaten him physically don’t survive the final encounter. Now, however, Ender, who has suffered guilt and trauma over the realization of what he has done, has vowed never to go to that extreme again. He has to find other ways to win without being violent.

He has to overcome the machinations of a woman who tries to set him up with her daughter while they are en route to his new home. He has to out maneuver the plans of the ship’s captain who can’t see a 12-15 year old boy becoming the governor of a new colony and intends (for the boy’s own good, of course) to do the job himself. Finally, he has to find a way to save the life of his best friend’s son, a young man who doesn’t know who he really is and believes it is his destiny to destroy Ender, even to kill him if necessary.

Before this, Ender achieves a kind of peace with himself by recording the Hive Queen’s story in the anonymously published booklet, “The Hive Queen”. He also reconciles with his sociopathic brother, Peter, by telling his story in “The Hegemon”. The catch is that he inadvertently creates a space faring peaceful cult whose adherents see Ender Wiggin as an evil killer. Fortunately, Ender generally travels under his real name, Andrew.

All of this makes for a gripping story, though it quite a different story from the action packed original novel. If you are expecting more of a battle room style narrative, you will be disappointed. Card has noted that none of the other three books in the main sequence of the Ender series were as popular as the first book, and this is more like those books than it is like the original.

My personal reaction was that it made me want to reread the rest of the original series and the Shadow books, which I never did read. I may get around to that now.

 

-30-

 

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