|Ender in Exile|
|author||Orson Scott Card|
|summary||A good midquel in the Ender's series|
Card is an able author and this story is solid. Much of it reminded me of some of my favorite classic science fiction. There is colonization, extended periods of life aboard space ships, discovery of alien civilization and not much in the way of hard science. Card's primary purpose is to analyze and consider the human condition as opposed to exploring technological possibilities or theories. Almost everything that is highly advanced is the result of alien technology and is never explained or understood. Much of it functions on an almost mystical or magical level.
Ender is a young adolescent with an incredibly unique life and mind. In this novel we see him transitioning and growing from a youth into a man. I was often reminded of Herbert's Paul Atreides when he was first on the run in the desert with his mother in the book Dune. Ender is aware that he is different and has amazing capabilities but he is unsure just what the full ramifications of that difference are. He is trying to find his place in humanity and in the universe as a whole.
The story encompasses four basic plot lines that flow one to the next. I never felt any great sense of urgency or climax and resolution in the story. Really what it felt like was a thread weaving together pieces from the earlier stories. While the themes and issues were great, sometimes the characters were remote or the working of the issues very subtle. The most impacting and emotional moments relied upon knowledge of events from the other books in the series to carry their full force. In that light the novel is very effective. I think that fans of the Ender series, already biased towards this work, are going to be very pleased and enjoy Ender in Exile greatly. They are going to get to dig just a bit deeper into this world and it's primary character Andrew Wiggin. They will enjoy moments of discovery and the answer to questions that may have been in the back of their minds, possibly for the last twenty years or so.
On the other hand, someone new to the series may not be as enthralled and may find the story to be a bit flat. If I could I would rate this book in two ways. For those who have not read all the other Ender books, a 6 or 7. This is not bad since the book is designed to sit in the middle of an existing set of tales. It is possible that someone could pick this book up without having read a single Ender story or novel and track with it. I think they would even find it interesting if a little flat. But for a fan of the series with a high degree of familiarity with the characters and events of this world it is probably a solid 8 or 9. At the very least, Card has done nothing to tear down what he has built up but has completed a sturdy addition to the body of work.
In the afterword Card has some interesting comments to make about reader involvement in helping him to write this story. He also explains how he would like to approach some discrepancies between this story and what is related at the conclusion to Ender's Game. I thought it was a sign of the times that an author, facing a large and complex world he had created but could not track on his own, was able to use the internet to call upon readers assistance in achieving as much consistency as possible.
This is a thoughtful, well written book. It may even motivate some to dig up an old copy of Ender's Game so that they can relive the enjoyment of a classic and see what is new to find. I think that most will not be disappointed. Some may not be as thrilled as they would hope, but there is something here for any science fiction fan.
On a side note, in conjunction with the release of this new book, Marvel Comics is doing a limited series comic adaptation of the original Ender's Game novel.
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