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Xenocide (Ender, Book 3) by Orson Scott Card
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Xenocide (Ender, Book 3) (original 1991; edition 1992)

by Orson Scott Card

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Member:laurenpressley
Title:Xenocide (Ender, Book 3)
Authors:Orson Scott Card
Info:Tor Books (1992), Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
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Xenocide by Orson Scott Card (1991)

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Originally published at Fantasy Literature.

Xenocide is the third book in Orson Scott Card’s award-winning ENDER WIGGEN saga. In the first book, Ender’s Game, the child Ender Wiggen was trained to wipe out the alien “buggers” who were planning to destroy the earth. The second novel, Speaker for the Dead, takes place years later when Ender visits the planet Lusitania where Xenologists are studying two non-human species: the pequininos, who have an unusual life cycle, and the descolada virus, which is fatal for humans but necessary to the pequininos. In addition, Ender has brought the buggers’ hive queen to Lusitania so she can rebuild her species. When the human Starways Congress finds out what’s happening on Lustinania, it sends its fleets to blow up the planet. Speaker for the Dead ends with Ender’s sister Valentine, who writes propaganda under the name Demosthenes, traveling to Lusitania to support her brother. Both Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Ender’s Game is being made into a movie for release in spring 2013.

As Xenocide opens, Valentine is arriving on Lusitania after traveling for many years to get there. So far, her propaganda hasn’t worked and the fleet is still on its way to destroy the planet. So Jane, a Neuromanceresque artificial intelligence who lives in the connected computers all over the universe, cuts off the fleet’s communications so they can’t get the final “destroy” command from Congress. When Congress can’t figure out what happened to its fleet, a young Chinese girl on the planet Path is asked to use her superior intellect to solve the mystery.

Meanwhile, on Lusitania, Ender’s family is desperately trying to find a way to recode the descolada virus’s DNA so it will do what it needs to do for the pequininos without killing humans. If they can prove that it’s no longer harmful to humans — and get in contact with the fleet before it acts — they can stop the destruction of the planet. If they can’t, not only will the humans on Lusitania be killed, but two species, the pequininos and the buggers, will be completely wiped out. And make that three if you want to count the descolada as a species — the more they study it, the more they think it may be sentient. There’s a lot to get done before the fleet arrives…

Like its predecessors, Xenocide is an intense, emotional, and thought-provoking novel. Most of the text doesn’t actually deal with the action that the plot implies (e.g., the nearing of the fleet, the tests on the virus’s DNA, etc.) but it mostly revolves around all of the ethical and psychological issues that arise, and there are a lot of them. I can’t tell you about some of the most interesting ones because it would give away plot twists, but in generalities I can say that Xenocide had me thinking about the genetics of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the relationship between compulsive behavior and religiosity, the nature of fatherhood, God, the big bang, the possibility of traveling faster than the speed of light, time-travel paradoxes, guilt and forgiveness, sentience, language, artificial intelligence, loyalty, and death.

The subject matter in Xenocide is pretty heavy, but Card accompanies this with lots of psychological drama, too. Almost every conversation is emotionally intense. The characters are constantly challenging each other’s beliefs, psychoanalyzing each other, and attributing motives to each other. They often go back and forth — analyzing, interpreting, questioning, denying. I found this to be emotionally draining and it increased the page count beyond what I thought was necessary. In fact, Card explains in his author’s note that eventually Xenocide got too long and the story had to be continued in the next novel, Children of the Mind. From what I’ve heard (not having read it yet), Children of the Mind rehashes much of the plot of Xenocide. I would have preferred for most of the overwrought dialogue to be written out of Xenocide so the story could be told in one volume as originally planned.

But that’s my only real complaint about Xenocide. I think some readers will find the ending too bizarre, but I’m feeling mostly generous toward the novel. Other than the overdose of drama, Xenocide is a well-crafted and thought-provoking story. It works beautifully with its award-winning predecessors and, though it’s more than 20 years old, its science and technology feel surprisingly current. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Another reread of the Ender series and again, just as good as I'd remembered it. ( )
  KarenHerndon | Sep 17, 2013 |
TOO LONG. I grudgingly give this book a 3, based only on my affection for the characters and the creativity of the story. Most of the book suffers from overkill in one sense or another, which leads to its main problem of length. It´s impossible to deny that Card is brilliant, but I can think of no writers other than Dickens (barely) and presumably Tolstoy (although I have yet to read him) who can justifiably write 600 or more pages of novel. Yes I'm aware I'm including Dostoyevsky in this statement (sorry Karamazov-lovers). Card could have brought this one in at under 500 and lost nothing while gaining much due to brevity.

Problems (where to start?):

Much of the length problem was due to tedious treatment of 3 of the main characters. Miro -- look, I get that he doesn´t like being paralyzed and that he´s wallowing in self-pity. You can cut at least 10 pages of his wallowing and I will still understand it. His transformation at the end will still be impactful.

Si Wang-Mu -- the introduction of Path and the gradual revelation of OCD was masterful. What I needed much less of was the hammering home of their inner turmoil over the gods. There´s a specific 5 page passage starting on 430 that as far as I can tell is used solely for Wang-Mu to ponder the nature of godhood. If you´re going to spend 5 pages on her, at least use it to develop the mind-boggling and completely inexplicable split-second decision she makes at the end to run off with New Peter.

Quara -- I did not swallow this character for one instant. Besides the ridiculous lapse in logic that she´s prepared to wipe out 2 species (including her own) so as not to kill 1 species, I´m supposed to believe that she´s defending Descolada just to get back at her family? And this is the first sign of mental instability that she´s shown in 30 years? Ender couldn´t have "healed" her in all that time (Is he a demi-god with supernatural powers of healing as shown in Speaker for the Dead or isn´t he?)? And then in all the arguments they had with her, no one could have raised the point that a dying Piggy raises at the very end: even if Descolada is a sentient being, it is a murderous and tyrannous one, and we have the right to defend ourselves. This woman is simply insane, and I do not believe that she would have been allowed to affect so much of the goings-on if Card were trying to be at all realistic. She was used to create conflict in an already uber-conflictive book, and guess what -- not necessary! That´s almost 30 pages saved right there. Did anyone else catch the part where she was passing Ela´s defense work to the virus itself? Mentioned but never follwed up on.

My other objections are less grave. There´s the dialogue style, just as present in Speaker and to a lesser extent in Ender´s, where every character is constantly psychoanalyzing every other, and everything they say can be decoded to show a deep personal insight. Although it worked without overtly bothering me in the first two books it got to be too much in this one (perhaps due to the length). People don´t actually talk like this, or if they do I´ve never met them. It´s not natural and became intrusive to my reading experience. There was a bizarre narration sequence on page 100 where Card suddenly addresses the reader in the 2nd person -- jarring to say the least. Finally, there was the arrival of young Val and New Peter at the end, which I just thought was unnecessary. There was already PLENTY going on in this novel, why add more complication out of the blue?

This is one of my longest reviews because this book was very frustrating to me. It was frustrating because there were so many really good things about it (mainly plot and the ethical/geo-political dilemmas), but some really bad ones as well. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
The last time I read this book I remember walking away from it with such awe. I loved the ideas that Card presented regarding the lives of the aliens and the philosophical struggles that were encountered.

This time however, I was a little disappointed. I knew what to expect and I knew I loved it, but it just wasn't the same. Maybe it was because of how the science behind the most important plot points were explained but I was disappointed.

Another thing that bothered me was the two random story lines of Ender and the people of Path. It seemed that there were two separate stories period. And as it turns out there were. Card confessed that he had the idea of Path already set to be a different story but then decided to write another Ender book and so used what he had... So that was disappointing.

Anywho, this is still a good book and definitely worth a read. Just don't expect to be fooled by the science and do expect to have your personal philosophical ideals tested. ( )
  Amanda.Richards | Apr 9, 2013 |
I have been reading the Ender and Bean series because I started them long ago and I am a completeist. I finished the Bean series and then I read Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, so I'd be reading in terms of internal chronology. The Bean series I liked just fine as what they are--action sci-fi. The Ender series are something else entirely. I love Ender's Game. I've read it several times and each time I have the same emotional response to it. It's a book I'm happy to say is a favorite. But the sad truth is, the series as a whole suffers from what I have dubbed "Amber Spyglass syndrome". You know, the first book is amazing, and you can't wait to read the rest of the series. And then the second book isn't exactly what you expected, and you're not sure you entirely trust where the author is going, but surely the third book will be great. And then you read the third book and you are totally disappointed and a little bit stabby because good GRIEF, it's nothing but opinions and philosophy with a very thin veneer of story over it and moreover, the characters you've grown to love are just gone. *takes a deep breath* So that's what I see going on with Xenocide. Card has substituted philosophy for story and the result is an odd and unsatisfying book. I appreciate the difficulties Card is facing in terms of trying to write science fiction as a person of faith. But as someone who is also religious, I also really dislike what he does here, just as much as I dislike what Pullman does in Amber Spyglass. It's not even good science fiction--the solution to the problem is some alchemical combination of magic and religion and philosophy. It's a solution to f-t-l travel, and so it takes on a classic sci-fi problem, but in a way that I--not at all a scientist--found both aggravating and suspect. Moreover, I felt distanced from Ender, which I never have before. I never necessarily liked or agreed with all his actions and stances, but I always cared for him. Xenocide's Ender is not the Ender I cared about. The characters even refer to him mostly as Andrew, which doesn't help. So it's frustrating and I now have to decide whether to go on, if I should finish the series or give the whole thing up as a bad job. It's a tough call and I haven't made it yet. But I know that I'm annoyed with the moralizing and philosophy masquerading as story. Book source: public library Book information: 1996, Tor; adult science fiction (YA crossover) ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orson Scott Cardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodgers, NickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sigaud, BernardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Han Fei-tzu sat in lotus position on the bare wooden floor beside his wife's sickbed.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812509250, Mass Market Paperback)

Orson Scott Card's Xenocide is a space opera with verve. In this continuation of Ender Wiggin's story, the Starways Congress has sent a fleet to immolate the rebellious planet of Lusitania, home to the alien race of pequeninos, and home to Ender Wiggin and his family. Concealed on Lusitania is the only remaining Hive Queen, who holds a secret that may save or destroy humanity throughout the galaxy. Familiar characters from the previous novels continue to grapple with religious conflicts and family squabbles while inventing faster-than-light travel and miraculous virus treatments. Throw into the mix an entire planet of mad geniuses and a self-aware computer who wants to be a martyr, and it's hard to guess who will topple the first domino. Due to the densely woven and melodramatic nature of the story, newcomers to Ender's tale will want to start reading this series with the first books, Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. --Brooks Peck

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:31 -0400)

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The Starways Congress decides that the deadly virus on Lusitania must be wiped out and sends a fleet to destroy it. After the fleet disappears, Gloriously Bright, the most brilliant mind in a world of people bred for superintelligence, is selected to solve the mystery.… (more)

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