Monday, September 28, 2009

Book 39: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Title: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Pages: 592.

How it was obtained: I bought it at Borders.

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 2 years.

Days spent reading it: Over 1 ½ years. I started reading it just before a family vacation in June of 2008.

Why I read it: It is the third book in the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. Ender's Game is one of my favorite books of all time.

Brief review: Xenocide is a strange book to categorize for me. On the one hand, Card has created a morally fascinating novel that started in Speaker for the Dead and continues here in Xenocide. At the heart of the book is the question—how do we determine who we will go to war with and kill? What if it is us or them, how do we respond? And he takes these very great questions and extends them to the extreme. So, what if it was the entire human race or an entire alien race? What would we do? What if it was three or four intelligent species? I love the questions that this book creates and begins to solve.

Second, I like how Card makes me think about how we would interact with a culture that is entirely different from our own. Sure, Card is using aliens as his example of a new culture, but aliens are a clear metaphor for any culture different from our own. How will we interact with that culture, influence that culture, change that culture, even by simply observing? It is a question cultural anthropologists and missiologists have been dealing with for a long time now.

This book struggles (and so does Speaker for the Dead) in explanations about science. Card gets bogged down explaining philosophy about human connections (philotes), DNA splicing, space/time travel, etc. It is clear that Card has done his background research, his explanations just seem forced. I feel like someone needs to tell him, "It is science fiction, it does not have to be based on REAL science."

Reading Xenocide made me want to read Ender's Game again. And that is not a bad thing. I think people who are already committed to the Ender series will like this book, but it would not be a good place to start.

Favorite quote: "Isn't it possible, he wondered, for one person to love another without trying to own each other?  Or is that buried deep in our genes that we can never get it out?  Territoriality.  My wife.  My friend. My lover.  My outrageous and annoying computer personality who's about to be shut off at the behest of a half-crazy girl genius with OCD on a planet I never heard of and how will I live without Jane when she's gone?"

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Word: Deadly.

1 comment:

bcschjenk said...

Kenneth has that book and is on his to read list, too.