Sunday, September 2, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #11

To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #1 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #2 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #3 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #4 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #5 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #6 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #7 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #8 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #9 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #10 click here

I spend a great deal of my time every day reading speculative science fiction.  The rest of my time is spent asking the questions and questioning the answers that the science fiction I read creates. All of the stories I post contain elements of profound contemplation, varying philosophy, metaphysics, and theoretical pondering. The authors that create these stories are among my heroes in this reality, and I very much want to share them with you.   Although I read a great deal more than the stories I will post in these short reviews, I only want to share those pieces of text/audio that really stick with me and force my mind to ponder life, the universe, and everything. While I am delighted with nearly all that I read in this genre, I will make an attempt to only present the best of the best.

Writing - The quality of the writing.  I specifically rate the writing on how well it is able to convey to me the action, thoughts, emotions, etc. of the story. 

Creativity- Simply put, this rating is a measure of the degree of imagination that exists in the writing.  How unique and new was the story? Is it something I have seen done over and over again? I also factor into this rating category interesting literary techniques such as stylish ways to present chapters or different parts of the story.   

Intrigue- This rating represents the stories ability to keep me interested.  Did I get bored and have to fight my way through to the end?  Or did I lose myself and end up somewhere else entirely?

Overall- My general impression of the story. How much I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and/or how much it affected me.

The Ender's Game Series 
         by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game -novel- 

   Writing 5                       Creativity 4                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5

The novel that began a saga and a revolution in sci fi. Despite its grandeur and allure, you will realize after reading more of the series that it is a mere prologue to a universal epic. The Ender's Game Saga has a following the size of a small nation, and a universe filled with characters seemingly as tangible as our own family and friends. Earth has been attacked by an alien race that looks like giant insects. People refer to them as the 'buggers.' Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin is a child watched from birth by an international governmental organization to be raised and trained in space to save the world from a future onslaught. A novel packed with emotion that asks some of the biggest and most important questions regarding life and ethics.

Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind 

Writing 5+                       Creativity 5+                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Three separate novels that can be seen as three parts to an epic tale. These novels take place 1000's of years after the events of Ender's Game, and focus on Ender and his eventual family. Due to traveling throughout the galaxy at relativistic speeds, Ender and his sister Valentine have literally been transported through time. The novels focus on the potential eradication of several new species, the classification of new species, religion, the reality of life, the universe and existence, and the possibility of seemingly impossibly alien creatures living harmoniously together in the galaxy. A breathtaking, heart wrenching set of novels that force you to fall in love with the various characters and worlds you meet.

Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, 
Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant 

 Writing 5+                       Creativity 4                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Like the previous stories that focus on Ender himself, these 4 books can also be grouped together into one epic story. The protagonist in the "shadow series" is a minor character from Ender's Game named Bean. Bean is undoubtedly the smartest human that has ever lived, and is arguably not human. Ender's Shadow depicts Bean's experience as a toddler, living as an orphan on the violent, sordid streets of Rotterdam. It then shows his experience in battle school, meeting and learning from the infamous Ender. The next 3 novels take place directly after the events of Ender's Game and focus on the ensuing wars that occur on Earth. The most powerful weapons in the world are the hyper intelligent, incredibly talented children trained in battle school and every nation wants to use them. These books discuss battle tactics and political scuffles in depth, and really show off Card's knowledge of history and the art of war. Tragedy, drama, romance, and completley fluid/dynamic characters. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire ride.

Shadows in Flight -novella- 

Writing 5                       Creativity 5                       Intrigue 5 

Overall 5

A short story written this year about the future of Bean and his children.   It takes place after the Earth is unified and Bean departs on his final journey.  It takes place as a sequel to Shadow of the Giant.  A story that left me intrigued and in tears after finishing it. I actually listened to the audio version of the story.  It is extremely well done with all 4 characters being read by a different person. Card is in the process of writing another novel that links the 'Ender Series' with the 'Shadow Series' called Shadows Alive. This short story left me salivating in anticipation for its release. 

Ender in Exile -novel- 

Writing 5                       Creativity 4.5                      Intrigue 5 

Overall 5

This story serves as a sequel to the Shadow Series and a prequel to Speaker for the Dead.  It ties up a lot of loose ends and unexplained questions that were left in both story arcs. The story also delves more into the minds of characters like Hyrum Graff, who ,despite their vital importance, were left on the outskirts of Card's descriptions in the other novels.  It begins directly after Ender destroys the formic home world, and documents Ender's journey to multiple colonies.  Ender even has a chance to confront Bean's lost child that was only touched upon at the end of the Shadow Series.  Although it would make chronological sense to read this book after reading the first novel, Ender's Game, I don't think the reader would be able to appreciate it unless they had read much more material in the whole of the series.  I recommend reading this novel last to truly connect with the plot, themes, and characters.  A well deserved and needed addition to the series as a whole! 

I have included a link to the wiki page for the entire Ender's Game Saga for a better understanding of the chronology, characters, ideas, events, and other short stories/novels that are able to stand-alone from the rest of the series.  

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