I haven’t been in the Ender universe for some time now, but I thought I would get back into the series. I’ve read pretty much all of the full-length novels published, but I don’t remember a lot of details. Anyway, I picked up Ender in Exile which is one of the books I had missed. It actually takes place between Chapters 14 and 15 of Ender’s Game, which sounds like a bizarre premise, but it covers a really important period for Ender Wiggin and then people closest to him. Ender’s Game spoilers ahead.
Ender has managed to defeat the Formics in an epic final battle, but the ramifications of discovering his victory in what was supposed to be a simulation but was actually the annihilation of the species, has left him full of remorse. Hyram Graff returns to Earth to face a court martial, while Ender is never allowed to set foot on his home planet for fear that the United States will use him as the ultimate weapon. Instead, he is forced into a heroic exile, and plans to travel to a new colony on a former Formic world to become its governor. The novel follows his departure and the journey that he makes to the colony, which he names Shakespeare.
Along the way, he faces the very real threat of impending mutiny from the Captain of the ship, who is likely to try to seize control of the colony upon arrival. Though in real time, the ship will take 40 years to reach Shakespeare, in relative time, it’s a two year journey. Only a few colonists, Ender and his sister Valentine included, choose to remain awake during the voyage.
One of the things I really enjoy about the Ender series is how quickly it changes pace as it progresses. Ender’s Game is a great classic work of Science Fiction. A young boy is chosen by his slightly crazed government to train in military tactics and then the final battle happens and he saves them all. But instead of the sequel jumping to another big battle, or other epic events, it immediately slows down and becomes very personal to Ender and his struggle to come to terms with what he’s done. Not only did he orchestrate the death of an entire species, but there were vast human casualties as well. He doesn’t just swallow these losses and move on. He really works to understand what exactly happened, and feels a responsibility towards the Formics. This quest informs the rest of the Ender Quintet Series, starting with Speaker for the Dead.
Next up for me is Earth Unaware (The First Formic War Book 1) which takes place roughly 100 years before the events in Ender’s Game. It has a co-author, Aaron Johnston, which makes me sceptical, but I’m going to give them a try. I imagine that it will not only cover the introduction of the Formics to humanity, but the specific events that led to the extreme fear and prejudice that we see in Ender’s Game. I tend to prefer near-future Sci-Fi, so I’m interested how it is interpreted.