Monday, December 5, 2016

Reflections: Earth Unaware

I now have read twelve books in the Ender Universe.  And, sadly, I think I'm done reading books in that universe.  The last book I read from Scott Card was Ender in Exile, and I largely left off reading that book with a positive feeling.  I wrote in part: "With so many books and so many authors in the wild to enjoy, I'm not exactly sure why I keep coming back to the Ender well.  Regardless of whether I figure it out or not, I'll be back to take another drink and more than likely enjoy the taste just fine."  Yet, going into Earth Unaware my mood and feeling changed.  I realized that with so many books to read and so many authors to enjoy, it may be time to leave behind characters I have come to love.

The most interesting aspect of Earth Unaware is the new cast of characters.  As I have read about Ender and the characters that surround him, such as his family, I have come to know them in an intimate way, even personal.  Furthermore, with Scott Card's signature psycho-analysis, the reader came to know the characters at a very deep, albeit sometimes trite, way.  Earth Unaware only tries to bridge the current story with the future story by briefly introducing but just as quickly leaving behind the war hero Mazer Rackham.  I was fine with the introduction but also the quick departure from him.  We have learned enough about the characters from the original Ender stories.  It was time for new blood, new motivations, and new conflicts.  The new characters are adequate but mostly forgettable.  Furthermore, the story that surrounds them is also forgettable; therefore, as you can imagine, a forgettable story and forgettable characters makes for a forgettable book.

Prequels often seem like a good idea on paper; yet, they quickly become bad ideas in their execution.  Ender's Game is rightfully considered a classic of science fiction.  Logic would suggest that the story that led to Ender's Game would be just as interesting.  In this case, as in the case with many other prequels, it's just not true.  Sometimes there is great value in mystery.  When it comes to fiction, we don't have to know everything.  In Ender's Game the characters, including Andrew Wiggin, and the reader are given only glimpses into the First Formic War.  Wouldn't it be fascinating to get the detailed story?  Not really.  Storytellers should remember the lesson of the Star Wars prequels.  Do we really want to know how Darth Vader became Darth Vader?  It seems like a no-brainer, but the end result is pretty lousy. 

It's entirely possible I'll end up reading some more books in the Enderverse.  It won't be for some time.  I have no desire to continue the Earth trilogy nor the Shadow series; therefore, I don't really have too many places to go.  Yet, with twelve books in my collection, I would say I put in my time as a faithful fan.  At this point, I think I'm okay with remembering the great stories Scott Card gave me and forgetting the mediocre ones.  Earth Unaware is the latter.

Other Topics of Interest:
Memorable Moments: Ender's Game - Terribly Reality
Reflections: Ender in Exile
Reflections: The Forever War

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