Top critical review
Disappointing sequel to the same author’s excellent ‘Ender’s Game’; for hard-core science fiction fans only
on 24 May 2017
Unfortunately, despite this book’s memorable title, and it being a sequel to the same author’s excellent novel ‘Ender’s Game’, featuring some of the same characters, I found ‘Speaker for the Dead’ a boring disappointment. The experience of attempting to read it has put me off even trying to read any further books in the series.
However, while that is my personal reaction it may not be yours, as some reviewers here like this book.
Possibly, ‘Speaker for the Dead’ is more for hard core earnest science fiction fans, which I am not.
Its predecessor ‘Enders Game’ was a story that appeals alike to adults and to older children and is set in the future mostly on a space station, where promising boys and girls are being tested for suitability for command in an expected threat to humanity's existence. Something about the story made it interesting on a human level, even for those who rarely read science fiction. It was partly like a boarding school story, or a story about cadets in training. However, because set in space, in the future, it could do things your average boarding school story could not, such as inventing a team game designed to be played in weightlessness, and the surprises towards the end that I can say nothing more about to avoid spoiling it for those who have not yet read it.
However, those features probably made Enders Game a ‘one-off’ that the author could not repeat.
Anyone else who feels the same way, if looking for written science fiction (films and TV series are a different kettle of fish these days) that can appeal to those who are not hard-core SF fans may want to try especially Frederick Pohl’s short story ‘Waiting for the Olympians’ but also his novels ‘Man Plus’ and ‘Gateway’. Their originality of ideas and human interest lift them above much of the rest of genre, including probably much of the rest of their author’s output.