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Monday, December 13, 2010

Children of the Mind - Orson Scott Card

This is the fourth and last book of the Ender series. Hurray, I've read them all! And although I enjoyed this story a lot, I would probably give it fourth place out of the four. Why?-It was as enjoyable as it was unsatisfying.

A quick premise of the plot: the Starways Congress has decided to destroy Lusitania and all the beings who live on it, human, pequinino, and bugger because the descolada virus could potentially get out and wreak havoc. Good old government. Only Jane, the evolved being who lives in the ansible Net, can save everyone but the Congress is also deliberately shutting down the Net and Jane is losing the ability to move ships outside the known universe and back. Soon she won't be able to help her friends in their mission to find the origins of the descolada virus OR save her life. And while being moved in this way by Jane, Ender's personality/soul/aiua is split into three different beings, himself and his "children of the mind".

Typical of Card's writing, there are multiple interconnected story lines going on, involving a diverse group of people from different species and cultures. While there was a lot of dialogue involving philosophical ideas that I found interesting, not all of it was necessary to get the point across which made it tedious. And there were other characters who interested me, but you don't really get a chance to get all that attached to them. I liked Wang-mu to start off with, but I thought her relationship with Peter was unrealistic and it ruined her for me. My least favorite character was probably Ender's wife, Novinha. Since she was introduced in the story, she's been in dire need of a sharp kick in the butt. Granted, her life was full of tragedies, but in Novinha's case, her personality makes a life long tragedy out of everything. She just seems like such a completely unlikable drama queen, the more so because she's so determined that what she decides is right, that's she's acting out of someone's best interest so the ends justify the means. I have zero patience for this thinking in real and fictional people! You have to wonder what someone like Ender sees in her. She does do the right thing at the end of the story, but she doesn't get there by herself. Valentine has to coach her not to be a selfish cow. Ugh, Novinha.

Card originally planned Xenocide and Children of the Mind to be one cohesive story. And I think he should have gone that route. But despite some lumps, this story is still enjoyable and brings up all kinds of thought provoking ideas, i.e. with the "birth" of the new Peter and Valentine added to the existence of Jane, Card asks the question, do we have to have a physical base to have a soul? And which came first?

Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide are well worth reading if you haven't already and I highly recommend them. And while I'm glad I read Children of the Mind, I can't say I wasn't disappointed overall. The ending was left open enough, you have to wonder if OSC is planning to do something else with these characters. After reading this novel though, I hope he just leaves them where he left them.

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