Book Review: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

ImageI’ve moved along into the science-fiction realm for my reading material since my novel, Dystopia, has a sci-fi flavor to it. The problem with writing a story that takes place in the future is that you have to explain a lot, which can get tedious and boring. So, as a writer, whenever I need to learn how to do something, I try to learn it from the best. Fortunately, when one is a writer, there’s an endless supply of teachers in one’s local library…or on Amazon.

In my humble opinion, Orson Scott Card is the pinnacle of the genre. Ender’s Game is the single best sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. The rest of the Ender Saga forms a three-story arc that starts with Speaker for the Dead, continues with Xenocide (best title ever, by the way), and concludes with Children of the Mind.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the story: After a galactic war wipes out the only other sentient species known to mankind, another intelligent species (known as Piggies) is discovered on a planet called Lusitania. After the Piggies murder a human due to a misunderstanding, the planet is quarentined and eventually Starways Congress sends a fleet to destroy the planet and the Piggies (an act of XENOCIDE!). A small group of humans and a super computer with a soul combine forces to save Lusitania and the Piggies.

What Card does well is he never overexplains any of the technology involved in the story. If there’s a hovorcar, he just writes, “Ender got in the hovorcar” and leaves the look of it up to the readers. That’s smart, especially since the focus of the Ender Saga is morality and ethical issues rather than space travel and fancy techno toys. He also explains a lot through very precise back-and-forth dialogue between his characters. It’s a smart strategy since most sci-fi novels get too caught up in lengthy explanations that hold up the narrative. No matter what the genre, story needs to be the basis of any novel.

One must learn from the mistakes of the masters as well. As much as I enjoy the Ender Saga, like many series, Card bogs down the narrative with too many damn characters. Some show up for a chapter and then do nothing for the rest of the novel. They serve no purpose. The other problem is that too much of the narrative is told through dialogue. There are entire chapters of two people standing in a room talking to one another. There’s little to no action for long stretches of time. You’ve got to keep those characters moving, Card!

I read the first two books last year and I just finished the third book and now I’m starting the final installment so I’m excited to see how everything wraps up. I’m telling you, though, even if you hate sci-fi books, read Ender’s Game, which is such an amazing story you’ll forget it takes place in outer space, I promise you.



~ by themoderntranscendentalist on August 28, 2012.

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