Title: Speaker for the Dead (Ender, Book 2)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Summary (from www.amazon.com): Card's novel Ender's Game introduced Ender Wiggin, a young genius who used his military prowess to all but exterminate the "buggers," the first alien race mankind had ever encountered. Wiggin then transformed himself into the "Speaker for the Dead," who claimed it had been a mistake to destroy the alien civilization. Many years later, when a new breed of intelligent life forms called the "piggies" is discovered, Wiggin takes the opportunity to atone for his earlier actions. This long, rich and ambitious novel views the interplay between the races from the differing perspectives of the colonists, ethnologists, biologists, clergy, politicians, a computer artificial intelligence, the lone surviving bugger and the piggies themselves. Card is very good at portraying his characters in these larger, social, religious and cultural contexts. It's unfortunate, then, that many of the book's mysteries and dilemmas seem created just to display Ender's supposedly godlike understanding. A fine, if overlong, novel nonetheless.
Comments: Ender's Game is one of my favorite novels of all time, so I can't believe it took me this long to pick up the next book in the Enderverse. Speaker for the Dead picks up with Ender and Valentine about 15 years after the Bugger xenocide. Ender's new role is that of "Speaker for the Dead", in which he displays the truths of someone's life after their death. This book was incredible. There are many elements that Card examines closely. First, I think, is the guilt that Ender feels for the death of the Bugger race, although he did not know what he was doing. Card also examines how people's perspectives of events change later-- what seems good now may seem like atrocious evil later in life. Also very intriguing is the idea that he tells the events of a person's life-- both good and bad. But by digging into the motivations and reasons behind someone's actions, we can see that no one is every completely good or evil-- intentions matter. Also interesting was the question of whether or not, when encountering a society that is more primitive, if it is ethical to share your more advanced knowledge with them. Additionally, Card explores the idea of other cultures thinking something is sacred that another culture thinks is an atrocity. Aside from all of those deep issues is the mind game that imagining time creates when light-speeds are involved. At any rate, all of the issues in this book are relevant for current times, and it was wonderful to explore the kind of adult that Ender becomes (not that he ever seemed like a complete kid even when he was one).
I would highly recommend this whole series to anyone who has even the slightest interest in science fiction (or military, in the case of Ender's Game). I will definitely be continuing my foray into the Enderverse.
(x-posted to cmmunchkin)