Friday, April 4, 2014

Earth Afire

The second book in the trilogy on the first Formic war is entitled Earth Afire. This story by Orson Scott Card (co-written with Aaron Johnston) picks up where the first part of the tale, Earth Unaware, ends. A huge alien ship is descending on Earth and nobody seems to have a clue. As the alien ship approaches, it has been generating huge subspace interference that has hampered communication. Most have blamed the problem on increased solar activity. However, the alien crew has already vaporized thousands of space workers. One teenage miner has traveled for eight months in a customized mineral pod to reach the moon just ahead of the alien ship. However, nobody takes his warnings or the evidence that he has brought with him seriously. Finally, however, the foreign craft arrives and its intentions become all too clear. A small armada of Earth ships sent to attack the colossal ship is wiped out in an instant. Soon thereafter, three huge landing craft are released by the mothership and come down in China, the most densely populated region of Earth. The alien crews then begin their task of wiping out every living thing that they encounter.

Two main story arcs play out in this part of the tale. The first involves the teenage miner Victor who has been trying to get the word out about the danger facing Earth. When he learns that most of his family was killed in an engagement with the aliens, he decides that he will do whatever he can to avenge them. With support from some folks on moonbase Luna, he devises a seemingly hopeless plan to get aboard the massive alien ship with explosives. The second story arc involves a man named Mazer Rackham. Mazer is a well known character from Ender's Game, who ultimately defeated the Formics in their second attempt to invade the Earth. However, when the Formic landers arrive in China, he happens to be located near ground zero as a special ops officer from New Zealand in a joint training operation with the Chinese military. In the face of unspeakable devastation, Mazer works to gather intelligence on the Formics and to learn about their weaknesses.

Despite the formidable odds, the story ends with a ray of hope both on Earth and in space, but we will have to await the final novel in the trilogy, Earth Awakens, that is set for release this summer. So far, this is an excellent story that I am really enjoying.