Scott Lee's Reviews > Earth Unaware

Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card
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Oct 12, 2012

really liked it
Read from October 12 to 19, 2012

I thought this book was fantastic. I haven't absolutely loved everything Card has put out the past few years, some things just seem...tired, I guess. Fun to read, but lacking the impact of some of his earlier work. Including Ender in Exile, which I found okay-to-good with some scattered great moments instead of great-all-the-way-through. I thought this novel was fantastic. Listening to a brilliant performance by Stefan Rudnicki et al didn't hurt either of course. Unlike a few of the people who've posted here I did truly love this book.

This is the first volume in a series recounting the first formic war, and so begins about a generation before Ender's Game. Presumably by series end we will have linked up with the Ender's Game timeline (or near enough to to count). The novel concentrates primarily on events in Kuiper belt among a family of "free miners" who are searching for valuable metals in the asteroids on the edge of the solar system, and a few ships nearby. It is here on the far edge of the solar system that the approaching alien ship is discovered and the first decisions are made about whether, how and when to report what just what has been found.

A plot line that remains disconnected through this first volume provides a thin window into what's happening on earth, showing us an officer in MOPS an international ultra-elite police/military force. It also provides the single concrete human connection to Ender's Game by introducing (although quickly abandoning) Mazer Rackham. This was the one bizarre moment for me, and I assume that Mazer must return as the eventual role he plays in the the history leading to Ender's Game demands it. This plotline cannot be said to converge with the stories primary line based on El Cavador and the larger coporate ship commanded by Lem Jukes, so much as to pivot in the direction of an intersection as the book draws to a close.

The most compelling character in the novel for me (for all that I cannot stand him) is Lem Jukes. Jukes is one of Card's fascinatingly human character studies and demonstrates with frightening realism how good we, as human beings, can be at justifying ourselves in nearly any action we take. As Lem moves himself further and further from basic moral decency his reasoning shows with disturbing clarity a flawed but stable logic that makes the process familiar and repulsive. Lem comes to embody all that ambition and pride can do to cause humanity to sabotage itself, and yet I didn't find him a caricature.

The novel was exciting and if the moral/ethical challenges that form the core of Card's best work are relegated to individual character lines rather than becoming the heart of the book as effectively as they do in the very best of Card's writings, the plot and characters are strong enough to carry the book along anyway.
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