Friday, February 28, 2014

Children of the Mind

The final volume in Orson Scott Card's Ender Quartet is entitled Children of the Mind. This story continues from the edge of the cliff where Xenocide left off. A fleet of starships has been ordered by the Starways Congress to destroy the planet Lusitania. Lusitania is unique in the galaxy due to the fact that it contains the only surviving sentient species known by humanity, the pig-like race known as the Pequininos. The human colony of Milagré was considered in rebellion against the 100 colonized worlds when it was found to have interacted far too closely with the piggies, against the strict rules established to control them. The situation was further exascerbated when it was discovered that Lusitania was home to a highly adaptible virus that is deadly to humanity. If the piggies ever attained the technology for star flight, they would spread the virus and the survival of humanity would be in jeopardy.

Against this backdrop, the protagonist Andrew "Ender" Wiggin has established a colony of buggers, a race that he supposedly eradicated some 3000 years ago after they had attacked Earth. However, the last hive queen drew him in with a sort of telepathic connection. Once he found her, he searched from world to world to find a suitable place for her to be situated. That place turned out to be Lusitania. If the human fleet of starships were to destroy Lusitania, it would be responsible for the xenocide of the only two sentient species that it had encountered.

Card explores the human condition with great depth of understanding as he develops the plot from the point of view of the congress in protecting humanity and of the humans, piggies, and buggers on Lusitania. The fleet is eventually stopped and Lusitania is saved, and the story arcs and conflicts are brought to resolution. But Card never approaches his writing with trite platitudes, banal dialog, or simple answers. In addition he has a knack for making the reader think and weigh important issues as they are brought along with the story. A very well developed series of books that I enjoyed. I thank my online friend Ricky for bringing this series to my attention. I will next move on to the related series of books known as the Shadow Saga.