Xenocide Analysis

Xenocide (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Hugo and Nebula-award winner Orson Scott Card demonstrates again, with this sequel to ENDER’S GAME (1985) and SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD (1986), that he belongs in the company of such older masters of science fiction as Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and Ursula K. Le Guin. SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD ends when the planet Lusitania breaks with the Congress that governs the colonized worlds by establishing intrusive, friendly contact with a sentient species native to the planet. Though this species is radically different biologically from humans, they are prove capable of communication and of working with humans.

Early in XENOCIDE it becomes clear that the Congress has decided to destroy the planet because everyone who lives there is infected with a virus that modifies itself so quickly that it will eventually overwhelm all the chemical defenses the human colonists can devise. Lusitania in rebellion threatens all humanity with destruction. If the planet is destroyed, another sentient species, temporarily resident, will also be destroyed, and as Andrew Wiggins (Ender) works to prevent this, his friend Jane, the only existing member of yet another sentient species, is threatened with death. The plot turns on whether Andrew, the members of his emotionally scarred family, and the leaders of the other species can manage to work together to prevent this triple xenocide.

In telling this story, Card unfolds a fascinating universe, providing intellectual as well as emotional adventure. What makes Card so engaging, though, is his power of sympathetically portraying key characters on varying sides of the story’s issues. One comes to care deeply for the mistaken characters and to feel the inescapable dilemmas of those who seem to make the best choices. Though the novels in this series are rightly labeled science fiction, they offer all the best qualities of mainstream fiction.