Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Meetings in the Enderverse

First Meetings contains four novellas related to the "Ender" saga. The first two are stories about Ender's parents, the third is the original "Ender's Game", while the finale describes Ender a few centuries after Ender's Game.

I liked the Ender's Game novella much better than the original Ender's game. This is somewhat surprising, since the short story leaves out all my favorite parts of the novel. However, the short version is fast paced, and doesn't have the excessive violence of the novel.

Ender's home and family life and his relationship with the "buggers" are completely absent in the short version. Thus, without reading the long version, it would be difficult to place the 4 stories here together.

The first two stories about Ender's parents do flow together nicely. In the first one, we meet Ender's father as a precocious five year old. In the next one, "Teacher's Pest", his father and mother meet as a anti-establishment geniuses at college. This contains some interesting ideas on population control. In the story, limiting family size is seen as a way of encouraging instability in governments, even though it is outwardly proclaimed as a way to preserve resources. Ender's parents also realize their meeting may be a part of a government plan - but they don't care.

The final story deals with Ender and his sister Valentine as Ender becomes a "Speaker for the Dead" and meets Jane. This story alludes to many of the events in the full Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead.

The pacing of the short novellas seems just right. Card seems to be perfectly in his element here, getting his point across without getting bogged down with detail. While these stories could stand alone, they really require knowledge of the other novels in Ender's Game series to be fully appreciated.

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