Thursday, February 27, 2014


The third book in the Ender quartet by Orson Scott Card is entitled Xenocide and continues just where the second book Speaker for the Dead left off. Most of the story takes place on the colony planet of Lusitania. This planet is one of the hundred or so worlds where human outposts have been established. What makes Lusitania of particular note is that it is home to a sentient species known as Pequeninos. The piggies, as they are known due to their resemblance to the Earth creature, are actually the second sentient species encountered by man. The first being the insect-like race known as the buggers that Andrew "Ender" Wiggin eradicated some 3000 years ago. The Buggers had drawn first blood with humanity and we were determined to protect ourselves from what we believed was their imminent invasion. It wasn't until after our attack on their homeworld that Ender had come to understand that they were a peaceful species and their intent was never to harm us. With this aspect of our past firmly etched in history, Starways Congress established a number of very strict rules on how the Lusitania scientists could interact with the piggies. However, the scientists disregarded the rules and the piggies gained access to technology and dreams beyond their evolution.

The main story arcs of this long tale were focused on the escalating tensions amongst the piggies and between the piggies and the humans. In addition, Ender, unbeknownst to Congress, has helped to re-establish a small bugger colony on the planet from the cocoon of the last surviving hive queen. Apart from the tense inter-species dynamics, the Lusitania scientists are trying to deal with the presence of a highly engineered and potentially intelligent virus that is part of every living thing on the planet. However, this virus is fatal to humans due to its adaptability. The scientists on Lusitania, who have come to accept the piggies as equals, are mired in a seemingly intractable situation when they learn that the virus on the planet is an essential part of the life cycle of the planet's inhabitants, and without it they cannot survive. However, the piggies are now intent on colonizing other planets just like humanity. Yet if the virus ever leaves Lusitania, it will become impossible to contain. Because of the threat, Congress has sent a fleet of warships to destroy the planet entirely. Will humanity learn nothing from its past history of xenocide and wipe out another sentient race? Can Ender broker a peace between the piggies and the colonists, and also find a way to prevent the fleet of warships from carrying out their mission? The key to bringing peace and dealing with the virus may lie with the hive queen herself, but time is short and the stakes are high. A very entertaining and considered story that was well written. Now onto the last book in the Ender series, Children of the Mind.