Xenocide (1996) – Orson Scott Card


Two stars

Read Jun 04 2015 – Jul 11 2015

Book 4 of The Ender Quintet

The war for survival of the planet Lusitania will be fought in the hearts of a child named Gloriously Bright.

On Lusitania, Ender found a world where humans and pequininos and the Hive Queen could all live together; where three very different intelligent species could find common ground at last. Or so he thought.

Lusitania also harbors the descolada, a virus that kills all humans it infects, but which the pequininos require in order to become adults. The Starways Congress so fears the effects of the descolada, should it escape from Lusitania, that they have ordered the destruction of the entire planet, and all who live there. The Fleet is on its way, and a second xenocide seems inevitable.

Xenocide was… weird. It was a serious letdown after the wonderful storytelling in Ender’s Game, and the insightful mystery that was Speaker for the Dead. The previous books, and most of Xenocide, felt quite firmly grounded in science, and then it got a whole lot more philosophical. And with that it got a whole lot more weird.

The story starts off where the previous one finished: a fleet, sent by Starways Congress, is on its way to completely annihilate Lusitania, and the entire known pequinino and Fornix populations (and the smattering of humans) along with it. Lusitania harbours the Descolada virus – a rapidly mutating and destructive virus that is in the DNA of every inhabitant, necessary for pequininos to become adults. Valentine Wiggin, Ender’s sister, travels to Lusitania to help him and his family, the Ribeiras.

Meanwhile, the world of Path appears to be an extension of ancient China. Some of the inhabitants are “god-spoken” and raised above the others – the gods speak to them through elaborate, intense gestures such as tracing lines in wood grain, excessive handwashing, and the like. Sound familiar? Well, in the end it turns out that the people of Path are genetically modified to be more intelligent, and with a modified OCD-gene as a precautionary measure.

While I appreciate the clever writing and the intricacies and the ethics of the impending xenocides, it dragged on endlessly. Plus young-Valentine and young-Peter: what on earth is that about?

To wrap up: I see the brilliance of it, but it was shrouded in so much crap that it really doesn’t feel worth it.

The Ender Quintet
Ender’s Game (1985)
Ender in Exile (2008)
Speaker for the Dead (1986)
Xenocide (1991)
Children of the Mind (1996)


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