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Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead (1986)

by Orson Scott Card

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ender's Game (2)

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  1. 81
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (sturlington)
  2. 10
    City of Pearl by Karen Traviss (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: These two books have quite a lot in common: first contact, a Christian human colony, a group of scientists, moral dilemmas, sharply drawn characters, and even more that I won't get into for fear of spoilers. Both fantastic books.
  3. 11
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also about first contact with an alien civilization that humans cannot understand.

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Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
I've had a few people tell me that they didn't enjoy Speaker for the Dead as much as they enjoyed Ender's Game. I find this interesting because in retrospect, I feel like Ender's Game is really the backstory that sets up THIS story.

In Ender's Game, we get to see the causes leading up to the final consequence of Ender's training in the Battle School. But HERE? Here we see how those events form the rest of Ender's life. The story is a lot deeper, delving into the more complex ideas of guilt, shame, and redemption.

I enjoyed Ender's Game, but I LOVED Speaker for the Dead. ( )
  Johanna_Talbott | Apr 7, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

It’s been 3000 years since Ender Wiggin, as a child, was tricked into committing xenocide. While he and his sister Valentine traveled the universe and benefited from the effects of space-time relativity, Ender’s name has been reviled on Earth and all the inhabited planets. He is infamous for his childhood deeds, but almost everyone thinks he’s been dead for centuries. They don’t realize that the man who holds the respected position of Speaker for the Dead is actually Ender Wiggin. And they don’t know that the Hive Queen of the Buggers still lives and that Ender has vowed to find her a new home. When Ender is called to the planet Lusitania to speak the death of a beloved xenologer, he thinks he may have finally found a suitable place for the Hive Queen to resurrect her race.

In the author’s afterward to Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card explains that this was the novel he had always intended to write and that Ender’s Game, its more famous and popular prequel, was just an introduction. I’m sure that’s why, as much as I loved Ender’s Game as a thrilling action-packed YA adventure, I liked Speaker for the Dead even more. This is a more mature, thoughtful, and far-reaching story.

Card explains that he wanted to explore this question: “What do we do about dead people whose lives were really crummy? What do we do about people who were vicious... What do you say at the funeral?” He suggests that we deal with this by lying, or by erasing the person they really were, re-making them, after their death, into the person we wish they had been. To address this human tendency, Card created the function of Speaker for the Dead — an objective outsider who would learn about the person who had died and would then speak the truth about him. This would involve uncovering not only the person’s good and bad deeds, but also the background that would let his acquaintances understand why he became the person he was. Card effectively uses the role of Speaker for the Dead to show us that there may be a very good reason why a “bad” person turns out that way. Not that this excuses his behavior, but it at least makes it understandable and may help us see how our own behaviors could have contributed to it. Perhaps then we can be more forgiving.

There is way more going on in Speaker for the Dead than this, though. Card explores the sciences of cultural anthropology and genetics as researchers on Lusitania are learning about the native alien species that live there. In so doing, he manages to touch on ecology, biodiversity, virology, xenophobia, cultural elitism, our motivations for scientific study of other species, and how advancing technologies drastically change a culture. He asks us to consider when we should disobey our government and when we should abandon the ethical principles we’ve sworn to uphold. He asks us to constantly question all of our previous knowledge.

Though this is a meaty and thought-provoking work, Speaker for the Dead is populated with characters you can love, hate, or otherwise relate to, and Card holds it all together with a heart-wrenching story about loneliness, bullying, abuse, hate, jealousy, adultery, incest, companionship, guilt, forgiveness, redemption, love, and death. There’s a lot going on here.

At the conclusion of Speaker for the Dead Ender finds that, once again, he has both destroyed and saved lives, and he is severely misunderstood by most of his fellow humans. He has accomplished much in Speaker for the Dead, but there is more trouble literally on the horizon. I can’t wait to see how he deals with it in the third ENDER WIGGIN novel, Xenocide.

Speaker for the Dead was published in 1986 and, like its prequel Ender’s Game, it won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Orson Scott Card the first author to win both awards two years in a row. It also won the Locus Award. I listened to Audio Renaissance’s full-cast audio production of Speaker for the Dead. It’s excellent and highly recommended. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I didn't think that a sequel to something like Ender's Game could be so different from the original and that I would still like it. This is exactly the case with Speaker for the Dead. Ender's Game was geared towards a young adult audience; Speaker for the Dead is definitely not. Ender's Game was fairly action packed; Speaker for the Dead is more of a mystery and keeps the story moving along by making the reader wonder just what exactly is going on.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Even with all of it's differences, it is still a very worthy sequel to the first book. I think that it was a great choice to continue the Ender saga in this way because as Ender has matured, Card has chosen to write to a more mature audience. This is a novel that is entertaining while at the same time making you think. Card has woven a complex meeting of different cultures and beings and a series of events that is compelling enough to keep you reading. ( )
  StefanY | Mar 18, 2014 |
There are a bunch of parts in this book but I just want to tell you about this book in two parts . The first part is about the people on the planet Lustainia . There are, on this planet two types of species humans and piggies( piggies are a type of alien) and humans . There is a kind of job for the humans; it is called an xenologer the job for an xenologer is to find out more of the piggies. The chief xenologer got killed by the piggies but the piggies thought it was doing the chief good by cutting him up. Meanwhile Ender Wiggin is in the next planet over (Trodheim) he is trying to deal with annoying clients when he hears the heartbreaking news. Then after that a cry for a speaking is needed he comes to Lustainia. After the speaking, he saves the colony. From a piggy uproar .But then they discover a fleet coming to lustainia. That is the end of my summary .

This is my review . This was a good sci fi book. But it was not as good as the first book Ender's game . Because Ender's game is more action . But this is kind of boring. But it was still kind of cool with all the aliens and sci fi stuff. I probably do not want to read the third book if it is like this.
  adams.b1 | Jan 9, 2014 |
I started reading this book when I was a kid, after I finished Ender's game, but it didn't appeal to me. I'm glad I decided to give it a second chance, because this time around, I thought it was really good. The tone and atmosphere of the book are very different, I find. Ender is an adult, and is in a completely different situation now. He is no longer being controlled and no longer in school.
Speaker for the dead deals with tolerance, truth and cultural (racial) differences. The characters are well developed. You can understand how they came to make the decisions that they do (which is important, because that is part of what the book is about). This not only goes for the human characters, but also for the piggies. Perhaps especially for the piggies. I very much like the way the biological mysteries are presented, and how the answers make everything clear. Partly I think there is some simplification going on: everybody has clear reasons for what they do, whereas in real life, I think things tend to be a bit more muddled. On the other hand, this is part of what Ender does as a speaker. He takes the muddle of everything and structures it so people can understand. Quite possibly, not even the person he speaks for would have known enough to be able to tell their own story: it is difficult to be impartial about yourself, and we are probably the most muddled about things that come close. But if the speaking is good, than that person would have resonated with the clarity Ender gives things. That clarity also permeates the book. Even though the subjects can be emotional, they are presented in a rational way. This makes it possible to lay the book aside, but doesn't take away from its allure. As a matter of fact, I happened to finish the book at 3 am in the morning (on a friday night, fortunately). If it had been a weekday, I could have put the book away, but since it wasn't, I didn't want to. ( )
  zjakkelien | Dec 1, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orson Scott Cardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Birney, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DiFate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemoine, DanielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudnicki, StefanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuyter, M.K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Since we are not yet fully comfortable with the idea that people from the next village are as human as ourselves, it is presumptuous in the extreme to suppose we could ever look at sociable, tool-making creatures who arose from other evolutionary paths and see not beasts but brothers, not rivals but fellow pilgrims journeying to the shrine of intelligence.
Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.
No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.
Order and disorder, they each have their beauty.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812532570, Mass Market Paperback)

Ender Wiggin, the hero and scapegoat of mass alien destruction in Ender's Game, receives a chance at redemption in this novel. Ender, who proclaimed as a mistake his success in wiping out an alien race, wins the opportunity to cope better with a second race, discovered by Portuguese colonists on the planet Lusitania. Orson Scott Card infuses this long, ambitious tale with intellect by casting his characters in social, religious and cultural contexts. Like its predecessor, this book won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:32 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker of the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War. Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening, again, humans die. And it is only the speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery, and the truth. -Back cover.… (more)

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