Annette's Reviews > The Memory of Earth

The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card
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's review
Jan 20, 09

bookshelves: sci-fi
Read in December, 2008

This is the first of an older series of Card's I'd somehow never picked up. Based on ease of acquisition - either from the library or the used bookstores - I assumed that it wasn't very popular among his fans, and may not be very good.
I was pleasantly surprised. It's a perfectly decent, solid start to what looks like it'll be an interesting series.
Many of the classic Card elements are present: dangerously intelligent children, wildly dysfunctional family and sibling relationships, incredible moral dilemmas, and a nice sci-fi backing to the plot to tie it all together. As usual, the writing and characterization is way above par.
The key to the "Harmony" world, which was settled 40 million years ago, is the presence of the "Oversoul," an orbiting computer with a network of satellites and the ability to communicate telepathically - to one extent or another - with all of the humans on the planet (who were apparently slightly genetically engineered for receptivity to this communication.) The purpose of the Oversoul is not to keep everyone happy and content, "Matrix" or "Worthington Saga" style, but to keep the more dangerous incarnations of human technology from ever developing so that violence will be limited to pre-industrial levels. In other words, they have indoor plumbing and computers and genetics and mag-lev "wheel chairs," but no cars, airplanes, or even wagons. Also no bullets, gunpowder, or large-scale offensive weaponry - or even a planet-wide communications network. It makes for a very odd mix.
But as the story opens the computer is breaking down - having outlived its makers' wildest dreams of a functional lifespan - and is starting to lose control. Technology is breaking out. Humanity is still basically evil, and everything could come crashing down in a very short period of time. The Oversoul decides the only thing it can do is try and collect a remnant of its loyal (or at least manipulable) followers and head back to Earth for a service call.
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