Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Call of Earth

The second volume of Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series is entitled The Call of Earth and picks up just after the end of the first book, The Memory of Earth. There we were introduced to life on the planet Harmony, a human colony that was formed just as wars were about to destroy life on Earth. Harmony was set up with a behavioral control system that prevented its population from developing technology that could lead to large scale aggression. This system's design had successfully allowed Harmony to thrive over a period 5000 times longer than the recorded history of humanity on Earth. However, the system of satellites that were part of the control system and its controlling computer system, known as the Oversoul, had slowly started to fail due to an accumulation of both hardware and software problems. The problems had gotten to the point that the Oversoul recognized its lack of ability to perform its control functions and understood the danger to Harmony. As control was lost, life on Harmony began to follow humanity's usual path of power, control, violence, and bloodshed.

As the Oversoul recognized that the failures of the control system were beyond its ability for self-repair, it moved to contact a family that was particularly sensitive to its calling. In The Memory of Earth, the Oversoul had revealed itself to certain members of the family and gave them dreams of the fate of Harmony in order to get their attention. In this story, the Oversoul revealed in more detail its grand plan, namely to send a contingent back to Earth in order to go to the source of rebirth for the control system of Harmony. However, even within the chosen family, there is strife, bitterness, jealousy, and in-fighting. Yet the Oversoul is still directing the people and shaping their future, even when they think they have control over their own choices and their own rebellion.

This work of science fiction is an allegory for the underpinnings of the Mormon religion and some reviewers that I have come across have not been able to get beyond this. However, I know nothing about Mormonism and simply approached this book as a work of fiction. I found that the story was tightly woven together. Card did a great job in continuing to develop and craft the characters, their interactions, and their relationships. Some people when faced with hard choices choose to look toward the greater good of others. Some look to see what will benefit them the most. Yet we are all connected to the lives of those around us. Sometimes, however, the sacrifices of a few can outshine the selfishness of many. A very enjoyable story. Now, onto the third book in the series, The Ships of Earth.