Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Earth Awakens

The final book in Orson Scott Card's trilogy on the First Formic war (co-authored with Aaron Johnston) is entitled Earth Awakens. This story picks up just after the end of the second book, Earth Afire, where an alien insect-like race had come to Earth in massive numbers across China, the most populous part of the planet. The invaders began a terraforming program on a continental scale, destroying every living thing in their path. Tens of millions of Chinese had been eradicated and the human response had been mired in bickering, ego, and power struggles, while the Formics just continued on with their plan. However, thankfully, not everyone falls into the trap of gridlock and bureaucracy. Some people are defined by principles and the ability to act on them. In China, we find a team of special-ops soldiers working to destroy the aliens and thwart their plans. Despite being hopelessly outnumbered, they have even managed to destroy one of the alien landers. On moonbase Luna, two brave folks have devised a plan to board the Formic mothership and destroy it from within.

In Earth Awakens, we finally see the first movements of individual nations toward realizing that the threat that Earth is facing is not about one country. Slowly and awkwardly, bonds are beginning to form. The more cooperation that is seen, the better the odds that humanity can defeat the invaders and repel their future advances. The first major step towards the common goal of saving humanity is made when age old enemies China and India, begin to share resources. Initial agreements are brokered only at great risk to a small number of individuals. Out in space, a vulnerability is finally found in the massive Formic mothership which the special-ops tactical team is able to exploit. As is known from Scott's Ender's Game series, there were two Formic wars, and this battle was just the first. We learn that this mothership was, in fact, just an advance scout ship. In several more years the main force is scheduled to arrive to finish the job. Scott has set the next series on the second Formic war up quite well and we now understand too how humanity is able to develop a deep space fleet so quickly.

This trilogy was very enjoyable and tied in nicely with the groundwork that Card had already laid and developed in his earlier novels. Truth be told, this entry in the trilogy was noticeably the weakest. While everything was wrapped up tidily, it was lacking in complexity, nuance, and depth from the standpoint of the development of the characters and their interactions. The climactic scene was a bit amateurish and underdeveloped. However, I still would recommend this series and this book as the positives certainly outweighed the negatives.