am 29. Mai 2004
I have been a passionate fan of 'Ender's game' and 'Speaker for the dead' since my childhood. When 'Xenocide' came to the stores, I immediately bought it.
To be frank, while the book provides good, solid reading by itself, it is very bad compared to the rest of the first two books and makes you feel bad about the whole series. The story is not centered around Ender in the least anymore, and while that might be a good thing, Card doesn't manage to make any of the other characters interesting enough for the reader to identify with. The story seems a little awkward at times, and the central conflict moves away from the threat of xenocide of the 'little folk' of lusitania to an elaborate, but somewhat superflous philosophical discussion about the descolada virus being sentient or not. In addition, the final resolution of the story comes up with really weird ideas that shackle the grand universe Card had created in the first two books in its basic principles and make it seem somewhat shallow.
My recommendation to the reader: don't read Xenocide (nor Ender's children, for that), but stay with the first two books. Then continue the series with Ender's shadow and it successors, because *they* are really, really great.
am 26. Januar 1999
Orson Scott Card, one of the greatest living American authors and certainly in the pantheon of sci-fi authors, made me smite my forehead in pain after I read Xenocide. Ender's Game was an incredibly powerful novel; Speaker For the Dead was less powerful but more thoughtful, and the two existed in an elegant symmetry: the first told the story of Ender's childhood and consequent crimes, the second showed an adult Ender and his redemption.
Xenocide, and its equally smite-inducing sequel Children of the Mind, imbalance the near-perfect duo by tacking on additional, irrelevent material at the end of Speaker for the Dead. The problem is that the character of Ender has already developed as much as possible; by the end of Speaker for the Dead he has come full circle. I felt cheated that OSC (or at least, I suspect, his publishers) took the characters from the end of the second book and used them statically, in the manner of a Star Trek novel, to advance a meandering, tritely philosophizing plot that really contributed nothing to the "Ender" lexicon.
am 26. Januar 2015
Die gesamte Buchreihe um Ender Wiggin ist wirklich empfehlenswert. Wer kluge Science-Fiction mag, sollte hier zugreifen.
Mit guten Englischkenntnissen ohne Probleme auch für Nicht-native-speaker im Original lesbar.
Tipp: Am besten in chronologischer Reihenfolge lesen.
am 2. Juni 2000
Two separate reviews on the back cover of the paperback edition use the same phrase:
"Card has raised to a fine art the creation of suspense by means of ethical dilemmas" - Chicago Sun-Times
"hard ethical dilemmas.." - NY Daily News
These dilemmas are indeed raised, faced, and discussed by the characters, including Ender, Valentine, and the various battling members of the Ribeira family. (Warning: if you haven't read the preceding volumes, Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, which are both excellent, you are very likely to be completely lost in this volume.)
However, when it comes to resolving them....
There was a kind of science fiction story, more popular in the 1950's than recently, in which humans would get themselves out of intractible scrapes by reinventing physical law. You couldn't beat those humans, by golly! If a crew got stranded somewhere, they would invent a few new laws of motion, then whomp up a faster-than-light drive or a perpetual motion machine out of spare parts. The rule was, "When all possible solutions fail, pick an impossible one and make it work." Nothing was too far out. I remember that the punch line of one such story was "We brought the planet with us." If individuals got stranded alone without a laboratory, necessity would impart to them the skills of teleportation.
To get away with this kind of nonsense you need a certain kind of brassy showmanship: you can't convince the reader it's not a trick, but you can make it fun. Van Vogt was good at this. In Rogue Ship, one of his characters wakes up his pal and tells him, "Hey, I've discovered the secret of the universe!" And he had: "The universe is a lie!" This meant he could do all kinds of amazing stuff, like going places by thinking about it.
Xenocide is ostensibly a much different book in style, emphasis, areas of focus, mood, and characterization. There are some inventive Card touches: a subplot involving super-intelligent prophets with obsessive-compulsive disorder on a Chinese-settled planet is good. And suspense is indeed created through a set of dilemmas which appear to pit humans, pequeninos, the hive queen, Jane the intelligent program (as she is thought to be), and the arguably-intelligent descolada virus against each other in an inescapable Hobbesian war of all species against all.
But when it comes close to the time of actually making the hard choices, we start to see stuff like this:
"We're on the verge of reconceptualizing the universe. We've discovered the illuminating principle that wishing makes it so..."
I hardly have to point out how closely this parallels the Van Vogt device above! But while it works for Van Vogt, in Card's novel it falls with a hollow thud. The reader can see it coming, because early on Card throws in some stuff about how all mass-energy has been proved by experiments on the planet "Ganges", which nobody tried to replicate because of the universal heavy hand of scientific dogma, to be composed of "philotes" which are like little souls for all atoms, particles, planets, people, etc. (By the way, this is sort of like another Van Vogt invention, "adeledicnander," from another novel!) By bringing together the proper group of High-Tension Thinkers (to borrow from Doc Smith) to ponder these matters for a couple weeks, it is discovered that the beleaguered Lusitanians can do - well - all sorts of amazing stuff.
Well, if you are writing whiz-bang space opera and use such devices, that's one thing. But if you are supposedly dealing seriously with "ethical dilemmas" and writing a cycle about "the ethical awakening of humanity", as the blurb to the sequel says, I believe it is just cheating to change the rules of the game so drastically. In Valentine's words, "It would be too idiotically convenient if the universe could be manipulated to work this way."
Furthermore, there is the added drawback that additional baggage, residue, and characters are created (sic) which/who clutter up the plot considerably as the saga moves into volume 4, "Children of the Mind." Ultimately there are enough good Card tricks here to keep this from being a bad book, but I don't think it's a really good one either.
am 28. März 2011
The Book: This book is very different from the first two of the Ender series. I liked very much the ethical dilemmas and the pondering about it. The questions that are raised. Still, it all could have been said in much less words. Sometimes the book seems rather lengthy. And there isn't much story. It's really a philosophical essay disguised as a novel. But I wouldn't mind that too much if...
The Readers: Here is the annoying part. Especially the woman's voice is without any temper or temperament, she just drones on and on, sweetly, softly, no matter, what the text is asking for. If she tries to alter her speech, it gets worse. Why on earth does she provide the Chinese maid with a foreign accent? It doesn't fit at all. The male reader is slightly better, but that might only be because he has a stronger voice. Even here there is hardly any emotion. Most annoyingly it seems completely random who reads what. At one point there was a dialogue between a male and a female and the male reader read the female part and vice versa. What the f...???
Some readers - especially when they read children's books - overdo the emotion and they are comical even if they shouldn't be. But this is the other extreme. And especially as the book itself is long and complicated this reading really does nothing to make it easier to follow.
am 10. Juli 2000
The third of a truly great series, Xenocide is a good deal more talky than the first two books. Maybe it's inevitable: Ender's Game is a novel about gifted youngsters, Speaker for the Dead is about a messed up family and a bizaare alien race; Xenocide is about the nature of existence.
There's not a lot of a plot, there are just a lot of problems to solve. I didn't miss the twisting-turning plot all that much. The story is still pretty strong, and the answers to the problems aren't easily guessable. You learn a lot about Card's philosophy/metaphysics, or at least a philosophy he's made up, even if he doesn't believe in it. Lots of science, a hint or two of mormonism (preexistence and attainable godhood) and some miracles. But all of this is well-woven into the story, so it's handleable-- though difficult at times to get through. If you're a fan of "hard" sci-fi, you'll love it. But if you're like me -- not really a sci-fi fan so much as a Card fan -- it might be better to speedread these passages. You'll miss an interesting way of looking at the nature of the soul, but you can follow the story just fine.
Characterization remains Card's greatest strength, and continues to make me wish he'd write books about the "real" world. His characters are multi-dimensioned, people I can care about, and I appreciate his ability to give them different worldviews and still maintain their integrity here. Unlike in Speaker for the Dead, in this book it's possible to be Catholic--or Taoist-- and not a moron. On top of that, I admire his willingness to make risky moves, like killing off key characters. There are some truly painful scenes in this book, and they are some of the most powerful, best-written pieces. Some of his risks don't quite work (why take away Novinha?) but they're all worthwhile.
There is a subplot about a brilliant race of Taoists afflicted with a form of Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder that is really wonderful. It is some of my favorite pages in the book, and often feels fresh when it feels like Card is tired of his Lusitania characters. It is beautiful, poignant, and well-written. Though it's not all that crucial and never truly ties into the main plot in a significant way, I'm glad it's there.
A passage from the book:
"Jakt gave her his impatient look. "I thought we were coming to Lusitania to help in the struggle against Starways Congress. what does any of this have to do with the real world?"
"Maybe nothing," said Valentine. "Maybe everything."
Jakt buried his face in this hands for a moment, then looked back up at her with a smile that wasn't really a smile. "I haven't heard you say anything so transcendental since your brother left Trondheim."
That stung her, particularly because she knew it was meant to. After all these years, was Jakt still jealous of her connection with Ender? Did he still resent the fact that she could care about things that meant nothing to him? "When he went," said Valentine, "I stayed." She was really saying, I passed the only test that mattered. Why should you doubt me now?
Jakt was abashed. It was one of the best things about him, that when he realized he was wrong he backed down at once. "And when you went," said Jakt, "I came with you." Which she took to mean, I'm with you, I'm really not jealous of Ender anymore, and I'm sorry for sniping at you. Later, when they were alone, they'd say these things again openly. it would do to reach Lusitania with suspicions and jealousy on either's part."
If you'd like to discuss this novel (or this review) with me, or recommend books I might enjoy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But be nice about it.
am 17. April 2000
Many people have complained about this book that they dislike (a) the physics involved and (b) the transition between Path and Lusitania. Well, anyone coming to Xenocide, be forewarrned: The chapters alternate between two planets, and there is some philosophy and physics discussion. Perhaps this book isn't for you. If you've already read the other Ender books, however, please read this book - though I don't think you'll need urging - if you're like me, you won't be able to rest until you finish all the Ender books.
Anyway. Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Xenocide is a wonderful, powerful book that will live in your heart and mind forever. Personally, I loved the physics and philosophy discussion. I loved the theories about philotes and matter and the descolada virus. I loved the way it made Xenocide not just a novel, but something I had to think about, something that I had to make part of me. I couldn't just skim this book, or rush through it to find out what happens - I had to savour every word, to relish every bit of theory, to try and understand it. And guess what? I never took physics in school, and I'm not the greatest science, math or philosophy student, but when I read carefully, and payed attention, I understood for the most part what he was talking about. And it was great! I loved the way Card brought Path into the novel and made us see things through the eyes of a completely different culture. I loved the aspect that Path added to Xenocide.
And, not that it needs mentioning, I also love the qualities that have always made me love Orson Scott Card's writing from the start. His intense, real characters, who are not always perfect, are not always good, are not even always likeable, but are so REAL that you can't help but fall in love with them and thier very human shortcomings and emotions and hurts. The way he develops these characters through all his books, starting in Ender's Game, continuing into Speaker for the Dead, and now into Xenocide. The way he develops the relationships between all the characters. Card has created characters that everyone can feel for, that everyone can empathize with, because no matter how different you are from Card's characters, they are REAL.
Xenocide is a wonderful book, like Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead before it. Just as Speaker for the Dead builds on Ender's Game, Xenocide is a completely differnet story than the two before it, but is built on thier foundation, and is an incredible, powerful book that will keep you riveted to the last page, and then will hold you still, forcing you to run to the bookstore and buy the fourth book.
You will not forget Xenocide. The philosophy and theories within it will haunt your mind and heart and stay with you forever. Thank you, Orson Scott Card, for giving us the gift of the story of Ender and his families.
am 8. Juli 1997
If you liked "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead", don't read "Xenocide". If you didn't read them, get them first, and then don't read Xenocide".ý
It's not that "Xenoside" is so bad. I guess many SF writers would like to write such a book. But It is still nothing like the first two books in the series, and it kinds of diminish their memory in the mind. In some ways it is like the sequels to Herbert's "Dune": too much symbolism and philosophy, especially religious philosophy (which in my opinion is the worst kind in a SF book), but without the brilliant plot and ideas. ý
There are too many characters, some of them which do not have any justification, and some which behave in ýan arbitrary and unexplained way. As in Card's other not-so-good books, there are too many elements of soap opera. The end is even more open than in the two previous books, which probably means that Card plans another sequel, probably even worst. There really should be a law against sequels to great books!ý
am 11. Mai 2013
Shame. Loved Enders Game, liked the Speaker, but this... Painfully long dialogues. Although characters are 3000 years older, they have no other past to discuss than the bugger war and the spanish inquisition? Too simple. An example for the boredom is that the author celebrates little idea of introducing this ramen, varelse terms by repating it 10000 times. Thus making enough words to fill volume 3 and preparing to stretch the plot over two more books. My Ender journey ends here.
am 18. November 1998
It really is interesting to see how many people disapproved of this book. I thought it was absolutely excellent. Ender's game was an excellent peice. He created several great, thought provoking characters. Speaker For The Dead took it to another level. Now, Xenocide. I finished it a day ago and treasured every word. Card has really outdone himself this time. He answered so many questions and raised so many new ones. Children of the Mind should be great. For all you readers out there who are disgruntled by Card's idea for faster than light travel, don't be so close-minded. If you read closely, the characters have to do quite a bit more than just wish in order to travel between outside and inside space. Card, I applaud you for bringing back some old, important faces from EG.