Friday, September 12, 2014

The Ships of Earth

The third volume of Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series is entitled The Ships of Earth and picks up just after the previous novel, The Call of Earth, ended. On the planet Harmony humanity has existed for nearly 40 million years. Life here is all that is left of man after those on Earth destroyed themselves in conflict and war. Life on Harmony has survived for so long without suffering the same fate as Earth due to the presence of a mind control system set up by the scientists of the first colony. This system, called the Oversoul, was set up to protect humanity from its own instincts, it own base desires for power and control. However, the system, even as advanced as it was, slowly became affected by both hardware and software problems. This self-aware Oversoul system then connected with a family from the city of Basilica and instructed them to give assistance to bring it back to Earth for repairs.

The obedience of the family was rooted in their belief that this Oversoul was a god. Even though some of them understood that this behavioral guidance system was based on human technology, they could not easily separate their heart from their mind. However, the family of Volemak and Rasa, through a number of circumstances, ultimately were forced to leave Basilica and head out into the surrounding desert. This clan was the very picture of human drama - jealousy, hatred, suspicion, anger, and murderous schemes. Some in the group were well connected to the promptings of the Oversoul and others were not. Even when peace and unity seemed to have settled on the group, the wicked schemes of those with selfish desires were always present, simmering just below the surface.

This story takes place over 10 years as the family clan wandered the desert as the Oversoul led them toward the old spaceport where the first colonists had arrived. Even after 40 million years, the starships stand like sentries waiting to fulfill their mission to bring people out into the stars. However, in order to ready a ship for travel after so many years, the clan must be of one mind and one goal. Power struggles and selfish grasps for position threaten to derail the work. Meanwhile, the loss of control of the Oversoul over the population of Harmony leaves it on a pathway of annihilation eerily similar to that suffered by Earth.

An interesting, character driven story that I enjoyed. I now move onto the fourth book in the series, Earthfall.