Tuesday, September 16, 2014


The fourth volume in Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series is entitled Earthfall and picks up shortly after the previous novel The Ships of Earth ended. The clan of Volemak and his wife Rasa had just found the 40 million old space port on the Earth colony planet of Harmony and under the direction of the controlling Oversoul computer system, they had refurbished one of the original colony ships and left for Earth. The family has divided into two warring factions, one led by Volemak's oldest son Elemak and the other by Volemak's teenage son Nafai. Elemak is filled with rage and jealousy because Nafai has been put in charge of the ship and the mission by the Oversoul. Elemak has always felt entitled by his birthright that he should command. Nafai is humble and trusting, a reasonable man, but no matter what he does, he always seems to cause Elemak to bubble over with hatred. Elemak and Nafai are in conflict on the 10-year voyage to Earth, but Nafai with help from the Oversoul is clever enough to force everyone on the ship to pledge and oath to let Volemak be in charge.

Finally the clan arrives at Earth and begins to establish the first human colony since the human colonists set out for space all of the millions of years ago. Over the period of several decades Elemak rises up and is put down again and again. Eventually he decides to bide his time and wait for Volemak to die before he establishes himself as supreme overlord of Earth. The planet is now inhabited by two sentient beings known as the angels and the diggers. Even though these creatures, which have evolved from bats and moles, are natural enemies, boundaries and relationships have been established to keep them in an uneasy but workable equilibrium. Somehow, these creatures knew about the existence of the humans and had long expected their return to Earth. However, when they arrived, they were viewed as gods. While Volemak's people had tried to carefully integrate themselves into this relationship with care, Elemak secretly worked with the diggers to become their leader to give himself an army to crush all of those in his clan that opposed him.

The story is really kind of drifts and in some ways I view as a disappointment, mainly because the entire purpose for the Oversoul connecting with the humans back on Harmony was to be brought to Earth for repairs in order to return to Harmony with the ability to efficiently fulfill its function to keep the humans from destroying each other. Instead, once the crew arrives at Earth this goal seems to have been forgotten about entirely. The story is all about the angels and the diggers and the humans, their conflicts, and the division between those who support Elemak vs. those who support Nafai. Writing multi-book series is very much in line with Card's style. However, too often it seems that his series have an interesting concept and start out strong, but he then either runs out of steam or doesn't have a grand storyline mapped out from the start. He can leave me wondering how he could have gotten so far off the tracks. The last part of this series is entitled Earthborn and focuses on the descendents of Volemak's clan many generations later. I look forward to find out if Card can wrap this series up in a satisfying fashion.