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Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

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I doubt anyone will be able to read Ender’s Game and not go on to Speaker for the Dead. What can one possibly do after reading that tortuous cliff hanger in Ender’s but pick up its sequel, right? But it’s hard to consider this book as the sequel since it is so different from Ender’s Game on so many levels.

I admit, I was stumped at first. What’s with the characters talking in Portuguese? Are we reading a biology book or a sci-fi adventure? And when did Ender become a detective in space all of a sudden? Then I came to realize that Speaker for the Dead requires a different mindset, maybe even a different audience. People who liked the boy-against-the-world plot in Ender’s Game will be sorely disappointed by this. This is mature stuff, it’s sophisticated, it’s bewildering. But you just got to dig deep; then you will find treasure. Accept the changes; I assure you, you will be rewarded.

Orson Scott Card had intended to write this book along. He meant Ender’s Game to be just the background for Speaker for the Dead, a short story enlarged. I myself like Ender’s Game more than Speaker for the Dead as do many others; however, I can see why Card sees the latter as the core book. Speaker is a masterpiece on humanism. This book is not just the speaker for the dead, but also for our fears, our prejudices, our truths, our hatreds, our guilt, our redemptions, our desires.

Card has an incredible ability to write about such deep and real characters and a thought-provoking story. The concept of speakers for the dead is marvelous. If more people read this, maybe our funeral ritual will change altogether. Gosh, imagine that! And the piggies—that was amazing characterization. I don’t know why but they remind me of the pigs that were slaughtered by the boys in Lord of the Flies. I know, they are separate things, but once I thought about that, the whole story of Lord of the Flies transformed. The pigs from LotF became piggies and the Ralph and the boys became an older generation of Ender’s. Kind of far-fetched, but hey, this book poked my brain and it kept me thinking about random stuff.

It’s hard to talk about everything else this book is because it is so vast and ambitious. Please ignore the terrible book covers; they don't depict the novels in the slightest bit. It would just be so unfortunate if fans of Ender’s Game overlooked this. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are the only two science fiction novels to win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for the same author in back-to-back years. There is a reason for that, and you will also see why when you read them.



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