On the planet Harmony, humans were guided by the Oversoul, a computer programmed to keep people from reverting to the ways that ruined Earth years before. Yet the Oversoul has been losing power. To save humanity, it guides a small group of people to return to Earth aboard a spaceship that was hidden on Harmony.
Nafai, youngest son of Wetchik, is the leader of the group. Elemak, the eldest son, hates Nafai and resents his leadership. Most of the travelers are scheduled to sleep through the entire ten-year-voyage, but Elemak makes plans to awaken mid-trip in order to take over leadership. In the meantime, the Oversoul instructs Nafai to awaken some of the children and teach them during the trip, so that there will be more adults on Nafai’s side by the time the group reaches Earth and the rest are awakened.
In the middle of the struggle is Zdorab, one of the few chosen for the journey who is not part of Wetchik’s family. Zdorab is enlisted by Elemek to program the ship’s computer to set an alarm to awaken Elemek and his followers mid-journey. Yet Zdorab is also loyal to Nafai.
At the end of the journey, Earth has some surprises. Two sentient species have evolved since the humans left . . . and those species have been waiting for the humans to return home.
EARTHFALL is just what is expected of a book by Orson Scott Card—it is well written, with human characters like people readers know, and aliens they can believe are real.