Speaker for the Dead

So, I just read Ender's game by Orson Scott Card, and it was so good that I immediately went out, bought, and read the sequel, Speaker for the Dead.

The experience began by feeling a little disappointing. The plot wasn't centered around childish pranks and simulated combat in three dimensions. It turned out to be an extremely different book, one that focused almost solely on the motivations of its characters.

Nearly 3,000 years after Ender's Game, Earth's savior-turned-scapegoat must appear once again, when colonists discover a new Earth-like planet, perfect for humans except that it contains sentient beings, in a seemingly primitive state. Remembering the Bugger Xenocide, humans are now much more cautious in their dealings with other species, and have created a highly restrictive code for studying the natives, called Piggies, or pequeninos.

Everything goes to hell when the piggies kill one of their observers in a particularly brutal and horrible fashion. When he hears of it, Ender Wiggin, Speaker for the dead, must travel 22 light years to save a woman, her family, and her planet, and perhaps to justify religion in the future.

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin - Thanks to relativity, the child prodigy returns, this time in his new role as Speaker for the Dead.

Novinha - Brilliant daughter of two scientists who save the colony, but die in the process.

Pipo - Novinha's adopted pseudo-father, the first to die in the piggies' strange sacrificial ritual.

Libo - Pipo's son and Novinha's one true love.

Marcos - Novinha's Husband, an abusive, angry, useless alcoholic who recently died of a rare genetic disease.


Speaker for the Dead is a much better book than Ender's game in many ways. It isn't as exciting, and it doesn't have the raw energy and physical conflict. But, it really shows the author's belief that conflict resolution can only be handled through empathy. In Ender's world, communication can only begin when we really try to experience life as another being experiences it.

Of acute interest is how the author of this book could write such a bizarre semantico-religious argument against gay marriage. It's hard to believe the same author wrote these words, particularly when Speaker talks about so many types of relationships, marriage being the most flawed and ugly of them all.