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Speaker for the Dead

Speaker for the Dead
by Orson Scott Card
Published by Tor Books, 1986
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback, audio CD, audio cassette
Amazon.ca: hardcover, paperback, audio CD, audio cassette
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Recommended by: Greg Slade
[Speaker for the Dead]

Book Rating
Rated 3 (Highly Recommended) by: 6 people
Rated 2 (Recommended) by: 8 people
Rated 1 (Suggested) by: nobody
Rated 0 (Reviewed) by: nobody
Total Votes: 14 people
Average Rating: 2.43 (Recommended)
Score: 2.43 (Recommended)

Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Card's Hugo and Nebula Award-winning book, Ender's Game. Ender Wiggin, the protagonist of the first book, comes into the story, but it's not really his story until near the end. As humanity began to spread out after the war against the Buggers, Portuguese-speaking colonists settled on a planet they named Lusitania. Then, they discovered that Lusitania had sentient natives. In reaction to the xenocide of the Buggers, humanity decreed that the natives of Lusitania must remain undisturbed, so the colony was enclosed within a fence which the colonists were forbidden to cross. Then, the natives began ritually killing the few xenologers who were permitted to study them.

The sequel is equally disturbing, if for different reasons. While Ender's Game is an all-too-plausible exploration of the lengths to which people will go in the name of self-preservation, Speaker for the Dead is an all-too-plausible study of the amount of pain which people are capable of inflicting on one another, whether intentionally or not. The exploration of the possibilities for misunderstanding when truly alien species encounter one another is paralleled by a searing depiction of the kind of destruction possible in a homogenous society where misunderstanding provides no such excuse.

As with the first book, religion plays a minor role in the story. The characters include members of a Roman Catholic monastic order which has some practices which would be considered bizarre, if not outright sinful, by Catholics today, but which Card apparently considers worth trying. (May, 2006)

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