Jumping back into the Ender universe is a little like going home. First Meetings in the Ender Universe is the tenth book I have read in the series, and I still remain committed to reading each book Orson Scott Card has to offer from this universe. The series itself has had its ups and downs, some great and some not so much, but I'm invested and interested enough to see the series to its end. First Meetings is a fine addition to the overall series and provides some welcome depth to the universe.
First Meetings has several short stories, all entertaining and unique episodes, and the original Ender's Game novella, which Card eventually turned into his excellent and famous novel of the same name. The novella is the oddest addition to this particular collection. It's out of place, especially considering it spoils the key surprise of the novel. Readers should be discouraged from reading First Meetings first since some of the stories take place before the original Ender's Game. The novella is perfectly readable and actually acted as a great refresher on some of the core conflicts of the novel, but I would have preferred another unique short story in its place.
The short stories involving Ender's father, one of which describes the first introduction between Ender's father and mother, are nice little insights into how the International Fleet had been watching Ender's family even before he was born. Ender's father proves to be an interesting character in his own right, and his mother could have used a short story of her own in this collection. As is obvious from aspects of Ender's Game and the subsequent Shadow series, not to mention the chronicle of Ender and Valentine after Ender's Game, the story of Ender is also a story about his family. First Meetings reinforces that story arc.
Lastly, there is a fun short story about Ender attempting to deal with the implications of paying taxes on investments and holdings which have been growing in size and complexity while he has been traversing the universe at near light-speed. It starts off as an amusing, albeit unnecessary, episode until Card introduces the artificial intelligence Jane. Readers of the Ender Quartet are very much aware of the profound impact Jane has on the Ender universe, and I thoroughly enjoyed her introduction and the genesis of her and Ender's friendship.
First Meetings isn't exactly a must-read, but it was fun. It's for the hard-core fans of the Ender universe. I will say, however, that it did show me how a television show based on Card's characters and stories would work splendidly.
Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: A War of Gifts: An Ender Story
Books to Movies: Ender's Game
Memorable Moments: Ender's Game - Terrible Reality