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Speaker for the Dead (1986)

by Orson Scott Card

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ender's Game: Extended (11), Enderverse (11)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,463174302 (3.97)239
Ender Wiggin, the young military genius, discovers that a second alien war is inevitable and that he must dismiss his fears to make peace with humanity's strange new brothers.
  1. 21
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also about first contact with an alien civilization that humans cannot understand.
  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.
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» See also 239 mentions

English (166)  Hungarian (2)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
So great to revisit one of my absolute favorite novels of all time!

Back when I first read this, Andrew Wiggin immediately jumped into my heart to become my ultimate role-model, my hero, and the idealized version of myself. Ender's Game had him go through some horrific things and really set the stage for the man he was later to become, but it is the full-grown man that really pulls on my heartstrings.

No. He wasn't truly at fault for wiping out the Formics. That can be laid at other's feet.

But he absolutely pulled the trigger. And the end of Ender's Game showed us the beginning of his redemption. Where redemption takes the form of Understanding. And then telling All the Truth, the good and the bad. Exposing it to the world for good or ill. I LOVE how this turned into a very powerful force for good.

Better yet, I love how turning it upon this special world of Lusitania transforms everyone's lives this dramatically. Or how it affects four intelligent species. Or how it paves the way for real redemption.

I'm not all that fond of Christian motif stories because they're generally all ham-fisted and overdone. Like, A LOT. But this one does NOT go that way. It's humanist. It's understanding that all of us have good and bad within us, and that accepting (and really understanding) each other is can be the most life-affirming thing that any of us can do.

The story of Speaker for the Dead is powerful on all levels of worldbuilding, strange aliens, mystery, love, and sheer cussed awesomeness. The threat of another Xenocide times three is shocking enough on its own, but when combined with all the events from Ender's Game, Speaker basically turns me into a quivering ball of emotional jelly. And worse, the characters, and I mean ALL the characters, from Pequenios to Navi's family to Andrew himself, just draws such a warm feeling from me that I can't even stand it.

It's more messed up than Ender's Game. More wonderful. Deeper, adult, complex, painful, and glorious.

I can't particularly think of ANY novel that deep down affects me more on a personal level. I'm thinking along the lines of putting this in one of my top ten best novels of all time. :)

So gorgeous. So important. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Speaker for the Dead is a story of compassion for the “other.”
Assumptions are burdensome, but are constant in our minds. Resetting your thoughts by saying, “I may think I do, but I don’t actually know. I should ask for clarity” is a way to combat assumptions.
Each segment of society is going to live by its own set of internal rules. The key to the greater good is learning to navigate and respect the other’s rules, while also adhering to your own.
Before you can understand, you must hear. Before you can hear, you must listen. Before you can listen, you must learn to pause. ( )
  HippieLunatic | May 31, 2020 |
I am not sure what happened. Last time I read this book I loved it and thought it would always be a favorite. But this time around, I couldn’t get past the weird pacing, poor characterizations, the unearned deification of Ender, and the absolute nonsense of most of the plot twists on Lusitania. Special recognition goes to the monstrous underutilization of Jane, an inconceivably powerful and essentially omnipotent being, reduced to being Ender’s secretary slash girlfriend. ( )
  lightkensei | May 17, 2020 |
pretty damn good ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
Today is the day for me rating books a 3.5.

I reread this over the weekend, in search of comfort reading. And that is basically what it was: a familiar story, nothing that made me think too hard, a plot that propelled me to the finish line in fairly short order and without a whole lot of mental effort on my part. And for doing the job of entertaining me over the weekend, it gets a 3.5.

But--despite the author's rather wordy and self-flattering forward--this is not High Art.

1. The author's very public homophobia influences his storylines: there are no gay characters. All the men are Manly and all the women are Feminine, unless they are damaged, and then they SHOULD be feminine and will be restored to their proper softness/motherliness by the end of the book.

2. Every single child character in his novels is some kind of prodigy. This simply is not credible. Ender himself is a prodigy, as we all learned in Ender's Game; and in this book, all of the other characters are prodigies, too, somehow able to amass enough knowledge and skill in the fields of xenobiology & xenoanthropology, respectively, to pass the admittance exams while still teenagers. I'm thinking that in 3000 years the amount of specialized knowledge in those fields would be so extensive as to make that essentially impossible, no matter how smart the kid is.

3. Ender is just not a credible character in this book. His insights are pedestrian in the extreme. In order for him to shine as a genius, Card must paint all of the other characters as exceptionally blind and stupid. Somehow no one in the entire city even thinks for a second that Novinha is unfaithful to her husband, even though ALL SIX of her children are from a man not her husband, who is actually physically sterile, and known to be so. Come on. No one guessed? No one hinted? No one gossiped? This husband of hers who was cuckolded for decades, actually adored his wife and only beat her because he loved her--oh ok. Well that makes it all right then.

No one sees that the littlest boy is grieving the man he thinks is his father--because why? It's pretty glaringly obvious. Why is Ender the only one who sees it? Why is he the only one who offers discipline or structure?

Why do all of the xeno- experts think that the aliens must reproduce the same way people do? Wouldn't that be one of the earliest and most basic things covered in the exams they all passed when they were 13? For that matter, why--except for Card's homophobia and sexism--is male/female a pattern carried through all of his alien races? In order for Ender to be a genius who solves this world's problems in 30 minutes (not an exaggeration) everyone else on the planet must be painted as an absolute idiot, even though they are simultaneously all prodigies. This makes no sense.

The way it looks to me is this:

Card needs to make Ender a genius, but one's character cannot exceed one's own intellect. Ender is limited to the insights that Card himself is capable of. Therefore, in order for Ender to be a super-genius, the entire city must be stupid.

It's dangerous for an author to make a character a genius. If the author isn't capable of the genius they need their character to display, it just won't be convincing. ( )
1 vote andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Card, Orson Scottprimary 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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Dedication
For Gregg Keizer who already knew how
First words
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.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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