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A Solid Start to the New Series.
on 13 March 2014
This book does start slowly and really only picks up momentum after nearly 200 pages - but this is to be expected at the start of a multi-book series, where the characters and situations are being established. As a big fan of Orson Scott Card's Science Fiction I was very glad that he was venturing back into Ender's universe and although not up with the best, this is in no way a disappointment and can be enjoyed by those who haven't read any of his work and maybe have just seen the recent film, with no problems.
I thought this first book shows exactly how human civilisation could easily misinterpet the actions of any alien species and you get the sense of the inevitability of hostilty and war. The characters that we meet are often people we would like and trust - the community of the El Calvador is warm and very familiar. But they are no better at dealing with the arrival of an alien species, than the manipulative and calculating "corporates", who are set up as the "bad guys".
In the end though, the friendly Italian and Hispanic communities may be just as much to blame for starting hostilities and the inevitable slide into war - they are just as much at fault in the way they interact with the Formics. Their intial reaction is disgust and fear, rather than any attempt at communication and understanding. But as readers, we can all too well understand why they behave as they do and the emotions that govern their responses to something totally alien and apparently unresponsive.
This is a story of big ideas - how we can possibly engage with another species - but as usual with Card, he makes it very personal and small-scale - dealing with family matters to which we can all relate. Forget about the science, the situation of being born in space and so on - we can all relate to how this small group of people react to something so strange and how their human nature leads them to react so badly, that war becomes inevitable.
You might imagine that contact with an alien species will be conducted by trained scientists who are earth's leading experts in the field of communication and extraterrestrial life - but the reality is that it will probably just be ordinary people and we will be judged on how these ordinary people cope and react.
I see this as a promising start to the series and can't wait to read the next one.