This is topic Earth Afire in forum Discussions About Orson Scott Card at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by mulrich (Member # 12863) on :
Will be released June 4, 2013 846
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Yay! I loved the first one and the comics! Have definitely preordered!
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Posted by Kelly1101 (Member # 12562) on :
Whoa really? YAY.
Posted by (Member # 12993) on :
I enjoyed earth unaware and found it was the first OSC book I've read that didn't have at least one scene with a naked boy in it. Either OSC has managed to stop has fantasies getting onto his word processor or his editors have got him to calm down a bit. That said, the usual references to urinating and defecating are still there, some things don't change.......
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :

Seems like an odd thing to focus on.

Glad you enjoyed it, though.

Anyone have any comments on the fact that if they make a movie of the series, "Mazer" will have to be renamed or go unnamed? Hilariously sad...
Posted by tertiaryadjunct (Member # 12989) on :
Obviously some people are going to like anything from OSC (particularly in this forum I suppose) but is there some consensus that Earth Unaware is good? It's seemed to me that Card is just milking the Enderverse at this point, and I haven't read anything since the disappointing (to me) Ender in Exile (with a teenage Ender spending much of the book heroically not having sex! A theme repeated and made worse in The Gate Thief, where [SPOILER] the moment Danny North is seduced/fooled into giving in to temptation he is possessed by the devil!).

But if Earth Unaware is worthwhile I'll give it a shot.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
1) Erm...have you seen a lot of the discussion around here? For an OSC forum on his own webpage, there is very healthy (sometimes a bit over-robust) culture of critical analysis of his works.

2) I do tend to be a lot more positive on OSC's work than a lot of people here - I really love every single one of the Ender and Shadow books, even the ones most people think are just "milking" as you say. However, I think that the Formic Wars materials, both the comics and the first novel, were really imaginative, well plotted, strongly characterized, and ultimately very satisfying.

So, I have no clue about consensus, but I think that after a careful read, that this book is a quite good one, and more than just cashing in on leftover plot points.

I was a bit bothered by Danny's actions and relationships in The Gate Thief, but I think that's another issue.

Plus, I really loved Shadows in Flight, even more than Ender in Exile (which, though I also liked it, did have some strange structural and plot dynamics going on). So I'd definitely recommend that.

But it all depends on what you're looking for in a book, or an Ender book.
Posted by Kelly1101 (Member # 12562) on :
I really did not like Ender in Exile.

I liked Earth Unaware, though, much more than I thought I would.
Posted by bCurt (Member # 5476) on :
I have enjoyed everything in the "Enderverse" so far, including Ender in Exile and Earth Unaware and am looking forward to Earth Afire. I don't think he's milking the Enderverse at all. As long as there is a story to tell, why no tell it?
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Ah, sadness. I have it preordered, and it will arrive tomorrow...but while I'm at the beach. While I'm loving the beach (and plan to use some of the time to work on my reread of all the Ender books, including Earth Unaware, so I'm prepped when I get back), it saddens me I can't start right in on Earth Afire. [Frown] [Smile]
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
I'm halfway through the book and I really enjoy it. It is very well written. I mean, I liked Earth Unaware a lot too. It is very good entertainment to read about


Mazer being the first person to kill a formic and all this kind of our beloved characters life stories, but I guess that's only exciting for the whole Enderverse lovers.

Have you found any inconsistencies? I have one. Gravlens. In Ender's Game there's sth like (not a quote, but I'm sure I'm right): "since the Second Formic Invasion and Mazer's victory we probably learned how to control gravity but it's still kept a secret". And in Earth Afire the main vehicle is a gravity deflecting aircraft. Sure it's still being tested, but seems to operate just fine and it's impossible not to have developed this technology further fir the next 100 years or so. And the First Invasion took place decades before the second one. Considering it's a science fiction book most of all, the science element takes a big hit.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
The timeline of the first and second invasions are being reevaluated with the new series - see also the timing of Eros's discovery.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
What is wrong with it? I thought formics inhabited it just before the second invasion and when it went black and was examined by humans the second war started. What am I missing?
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
In Ender's Game, it's implied that Eros was part of the First Invasion (at least, that's what it looked like when I went back and checked a year ago. I'll be checking again as I reread the books in prep for the movie.)

Anyway, if you tweet or email Aaron Johnston, he'll tell you that he and OSC are writing the best story they can now, and if it contradicts previous events or implied events, the newer version is almost always the result of wanting to improve the story, not just contradiction or carelessness.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
I didn't presume it was caused by carelessness, but contradiction is a contradiction. However, if the whole story is to be reaarranged then cool. Does it mean they're going to make some changes in future editions of EG?

And about Eros, you're right. That's even bigger than gravlens. I don't know why, but I thought it was the second invasion.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
They are sorta trying to get a revision to Ender's Game up...but that's been in the works since Ender in Exile, five years ago. I'm guessing that means it's pretty low on the priority list - especially since making major alterations to Ender's Game now would be pretty rough with trying to promote the movie and everything.

I would say that the gravlens is pretty much just beta tech, and there was such a huge jump forward the the history books were sparse on the pre-Formics grav tech. Additionally, the IF during Ender's Game is pretty...the opposite of transparent. So I'm guessing that they just clamped down on information about that kind of thing. Sort of "The earth doesn't need to know this stuff."

Additionally, there's kind of a 1984-ish feel to Earth society in Ender's Game that has kind of disappeared from the series after Ender's Shadow. I personally don't miss it, but it does create some tonal and societal inconsistencies. [Smile] were right about Earth Unaware [Wink] It does seem to make more sense that it's the second invasion, which is probably why Johnston and Card changed it.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Thanks for the info on what they're up to, you're very well informed!

There is one intriguing scene: the group of people by the fire eating a Formic. The smell of lobster. Them being agressive. Them vomiting afterwards. Mazer and Bingwen leaving them without a word. Something in that scene I loved a lot, I sure am going to remember it.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
I am really looking forward to reading the book! I got StarCraft II at the same time as Earth Afire, so making opportunities to read both is a bit challenging - but I absolutely will!
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Starcraft II the book? Was Starcraft I any good?
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
No, the videogames. [Smile] But also the comics. I have never played or read StarCraft I, but I'm really liking StarCraft II, the games and comics.

I got through about half of Earth Afire today - it's not quite as fun for me as the first book. There was something really cool and Heinleinesque about the way Card and Johnston created the miner society that's absent from the geopolitical nature of this book (much more like the Shadow series, but without Bean, Petra, and Peter). I do like Mazer's backstory a lot, and the ideas are cool - I'm just not attaching to the characters as much as I did in the first one.

Also, Victor is being such a jerk in this book. I mean, I know he's 17 and been through a lot, but every time he does something stupid I just shake my head. At least Imala and Mazer continue to be awesome. I wish we got more Imala perspective, though.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Just finished it, and Victor got a lot better. It's so odd flipping through the comics and then going to read it in the novel. But good in both forms!

And the Formic eating scene was very powerful - grotesque, horrifying, believable.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
For a moment there I was terrified that he's gonna blow up the Mothership in 5 pages... Such a relief!
Posted by mulrich (Member # 12863) on :
I finally finished the book and have a few thoughts...

Overall, I really liked the book and felt it did a good job progressing the macro-story.


I don't think I'd recommend starting this series to anyone until the final book is released. The books aren't really separate books but part of a single volume with seemingly arbitrary breaks to create separate books. It seems like the authors could have just as well ended the book a chapter sooner or a chapter later.
For example, the authors had no conclusion (even a partial conclusion like for Mazer) for the El Cavador castoffs. This entire story line added nothing to this novel but I assume will play an important role in the final book.

The beginning of the book had a lot of different story lines that were hard to follow (made worse since I last read Earth Unaware a year ago). Bingwin, Mazer, Victor, Lem, El Cavador castoffs, MOPs. Obviously some of these story lines were brought together in the second half of the book but it still made the first half harder to follow.

I read on Aaron Johnston's twitter feed that he and Card are finishing the manuscript for the final book in the next two weeks, which means the book *could* be released in six months, although I wouldn't expect it until this time next year for business reasons.

Overall I felt like the book had good pace and was an enjoyable read (even taking into account the above issues I had). I think this was a stronger novel than Earth Unaware but again, this is not a 3-book series but rather a single book split into three different products. I'm really looking forward to the final release.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Did you notice how Bingwen is becoming a poster boy for future battle school? That kids are so smart?
Posted by mulrich (Member # 12863) on :
Originally posted by Szymon:
Did you notice how Bingwen is becoming a poster boy for future battle school? That kids are so smart?

Yes, but genius/super kids are a common theme in Card's works. I would have been fine without the Bingwen story arc, but I'll reserve final judgement until after the next book. I'm hoping that the character doesn't become a typical super kid from Card's other books. I know many of his books are geared towards a younger audience but I would still enjoy a story where the hero can legally rent a car. Although, I'm not really sure who the main character is supposed to be. It seems like Victor was the main character in the first book. Mazer seemed to take more of the lead role in the second but there wasn't really one main character.
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Yeah, sure the kids are smart from the start, being 8 years old and repairing ships or being super smart or whatever. My point is that Bingwen's plot is inevitably going to end up with Bingwen becoming an example for Strategos that the MOPs should be picked not from existing armies but from promising kids. That thought will probably be put forward by Mazer.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Mulrich - great observation on the breaking up of the story. To some extent I would agree with you, although I think there is a "climax" in each of the first two books that kind of lead us to something of a stopping place.

The comics basically give us three or four main characters - Victor, Imala, Mazer, and Lem Jukes. The books are focusing on Victor, Mazer, and Lem as perspective characters, so I think that would be the way it goes. Though I still hold out hope that Imala gets perspective in Earth Awakens.
Posted by mulrich (Member # 12863) on :
I suppose their was a climax in Earth Afire even if it was brief. My complaint is there's only a page or two after the climax, not giving enough time to really discuss the climaxes reverberations. And then they added the chapter after the climatic finish that only served to be a cliffhanger for book 3. I would have appreciated more write-up about the aftermath of the explosion than have the final chapter (although then I would probably be complaining about knowing nothing more of Victor).

Like I said, I liked the book, I just won't recommend it to others until the final volume comes out.
Posted by BuckoVestige (Member # 13003) on :
Hi there Enderverse devotees,

Noobie poster here.

So since Earth Afire has a "... and Aaron Johnson" byline, does that mean that Orson has begun a franchise, like James Patterson and Tom Clancy?

He is getting up there in age (and fragile health?), with all these different story lines going, so I think it's a fair question. Has he addressed that in one of his essays? Or other messages?
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :

I'm not quite sure why he decided to collaborate on this particular storyline, though he's collaborated on several works in the past, so it's not like he's just cashing in on Ender's Game. He has said he regards Johnston as his equal artistically, so I don't think he feels like he's farming work out or anything. I'm also sure Johnston himself would love to chat about it if you email or tweet him!
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
Miller, are you Johnston or something? Or his aide? [Wink]
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
They're paying me later, so just a schill.

No, actually I'm not. Sadly. I just like to tweet with Johnston. [Big Grin]
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
You tweet him to come to this forum, it'd be cool to see him here. I remember OSC used to post sometimes, even talked to him twice.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
Oh, give it a rest, f-s.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Posted by Szymon (Member # 7103) on :
What is that supposed to mean?
Posted by Papa Moose (Member # 1992) on :
Tom responded to a post that has since been deleted, I believe.
Posted by sshields1031 (Member # 13010) on :
Hello, my first post. I have a question about the Formics in the 1st Formic War. I'm trying to understand the motive and thinking of the Hive Queen in the first Formic War. In Enders Game, after Ender defeats the Formics, the Hive Queen mourns that the humans did not forgive them and that they did not realize that the humans were sentient. Yet though humans are not successfully communicating with Formics in Earth Afire, isn't it obvious that by the use of tools and machines that humans are both sentient and intelligent? So aren't the Formics intentionally killing other sentient beings? I thought the whole point of Hive Queen was the the Formics murdering of humans was the unintentional killing of beings not perceived as sentient. It seems to me that the first time they see humans using machines, it should have been obvious to Formics that they aren't alone in the universe, even though they were hundreds of years from being able to figure out how to communicate effectively with humans. I'm sure I'm missing something and am not really trying to advocate here but trying to understand. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Posted by sshields1031 (Member # 13010) on :
(I probably should mention I've read every Enders Game and Enders Shadow book in the last 8 mos or so and ALSO that I *haven't* finished Earth Aware yet. So if this is all explained in the book just tell me to calm down and be patient. [Smile]
Posted by talsmitde (Member # 9780) on :
Welcome to Hatrack! [Wave]

(Minor spoilers for Xenocide & Earth Afire)

My understanding of the Hive Queen knowing other species are sentient is based on being able to speak mind-to-mind (like the Father trees on Lusitania) and humans can't do that. Earth Afire includes (imho) some attempts at mind-to-mind communication when various people have dreams where Formics are standing over them & looking at them.
Posted by sshields1031 (Member # 13010) on :
Thanks Talsmitde! I appreciate your input. I look forward to other insights from you or anyone as well. It doesn't make sense to me that witnessing any other species using technology wouldn't lead any intelligent being to conclude intelligent sentience. It suggests rather more guilt than I had gathered from the the account of Ender's book The Hive Queen. But, again, I welcome someone who can provide a more harmonizing perspective reflecting a POV I'm not considering, a detail I'm missing, or a misunderstanding at some presuppositional level. I feel that I must be missing something because it doesn't seem to be something our authors would have overlooked.
Posted by talsmitde (Member # 9780) on :
You're welcome! Something that's been repeated here quite a bit is that in some ways we know the books better than the authors, because we've read them more recently/repeatedly.

(More minor spoilers for EG, CotM, Shadows in Flight, and Earth Afire below.)

This is a rather fascinating question you've got here. We like to think of tech as one of the big signals of sentience (although there are other animals that use simple tools), but what if the Formics have a different (alien) standard of sentience = being able to speak mind-to-mind? This would explain why they didn't figure out humans weren't just space-traveling, gun-shooting animals until they used the link of the Fantasy Game/Jane to bridge into Ender's mind.

Something else that's kind of disturbing: in Children of the Mind it's suggested that the Hive Queen has a different sense of morality in that she's unable to keep promises. Once she decides something, that's how it's always been and always will be and can't remember a time when she thought differently. This can lead to the HQ giving Ender a rather idealized view of her society when they finally meet & link mind-to-mind. (It also explains why the forced-into-hive nature of some workers & males mentioned in Children of the Mind & Shadows in Flight doesn't quite make into The Hive Queen.)
Posted by sshields1031 (Member # 13010) on :
Hi Talsmitde,

A wonderful response and helpfully insightful. Your bringing in Ender's insight from CotM is just brilliant and shines such a helpful light. At some point, the Formics decided that it was both a bad idea and wrong to eradicate Man in order to take his world. But, clearly, in the Formic War 1 and 2, they had not yet come to that conclusion. I realized I had been two-dimensionalizing the Formics into a fundamentally good race. Just as Earth could not appreciate the nuance that the good man Ender had almost entirely eradicated an entire species, so also I struggled with seeing the Formics as making non-ethical decisions. So grateful for your insight here - highly, highly helpful.

I'm *thoroughly* enjoying Earth Afire much more than Earth Unaware. I think it's because it's a wider canvass and more action-oriented than the first prequel. I am very much looking forward to finishing EA and the next book. I'm also grateful that this online community exists where I can discuss the books.

Again, my sincerest thanks.
Posted by la.SOMA (Member # 10608) on :
Also, the Hive Queen didn't recognize the importance of individual life at that point. Each human was just a disposable worker to her. I think she only mourns when she realizes that humans are each their own unique Hive Queen.

I cant remember which book it's in, but it's mentioned that the Formics were simply doing what they did when there was still war between Hives/Hive Queens.
Posted by sshields1031 (Member # 13010) on :
Selma, great point. Would love to know if you could run around the reference to the hive queens battling each other and the relationship of that to the first formic war.
Posted by talsmitde (Member # 9780) on :
It's in a vision, isn't?

I think from Valentine visiting the Hive Queen in Xenocide, but I'm not totally sure. But yeah, realizing that individuals humans were "all queens" was part of the regret for the Second Invasion.
Posted by Thesifer (Member # 12890) on :
I picked this up finally, once I got a good enough deal on it.
Posted by Bijoux regionaux point fr (Member # 12968) on :
Well, OSC is back to his old habits in Earth Afire. Superkid is back! 8 years old, far smarter than all the adults put together, I guess OSC's formula is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

And we have the usual urinating and defecating scenes common to all his books. An interesting read but I won't be buying any more.
Posted by Bijoux regionaux point fr (Member # 12968) on :
Another thought. OSC makes out he knows more about military strategy than most, and yet in all his books, and especially Earth Afire, we have people so confident of their high IQ that they constantly break orders! What sort of an army would we have if Mazers and OSP ignored all the orders they are given?

I was disappointed to see the typical american storyline "Americans go to foreign country and kick-ass so much better than the incompetent locals". Reminds me of City of Joy, or American Samourai, or Etc etc etc.......
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
Mazer's not American. And while Witt is, his troop is not.
Posted by Bijoux regionaux point fr (Member # 12968) on :
There is some confusion above as to why the hive queen did not realise during the first invasion that humans were sentient beings, surely our technology would prove that. Well it was explained in Ender's game that the Hive queens considered a being important only if it was a queen, the storehouse of the knowledge of the race. The drones could be killed at will as they had no genetic descendence that would be lost nor knowledge. It was speculated that to the formics, killing some humans would equate to saying hello and making their presence known.
Posted by MathTeacherGuy (Member # 13034) on :
Originally posted by Bijoux regionaux point fr:
Another thought. OSC makes out he knows more about military strategy than most, and yet in all his books, and especially Earth Afire, we have people so confident of their high IQ that they constantly break orders! What sort of an army would we have if Mazers and OSP ignored all the orders they are given?

Great point! I think it makes more sense if you take into account how often Orson Scott Card belittles traditional military leadership. In the Shadow series, almost every non-Battle School leader is incompetent. In Earth Afire, the Chinese military leadership demonstrate similarly poor decision-making and no creativity, while other world leaders show no initiative in caving to China's desire to handle the problem internally.

In other words, the standard military doctrine for Orson Scott Card is to follow orders, but only if they are issued by one of the protagonists. Disobey any other orders.

At least this explains the first of Mazer Rackham's two court-martials that were referred to in Ender's Game. I wonder what he did to earn the second one?

Someone asked about Aaron Johnston. I'm pretty sure his first collaboration with Orson Scott Card was the novel Invasive Procedures. He then wrote several of the Marvel comics from the Enderverse, including working with Card on Formic Wars. So it makes sense that he continued that collaboration with the novelization of those comics.

I think I heard somewhere that they plan to do a comic series and novel trilogy about the Second Invasion as well. Can anyone confirm?
Posted by MathTeacherGuy (Member # 13034) on :
Oh, I noticed some questions about Eros. I actually had the exact same question on my most recent reading of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Here are the pertinent passages:

Mazer Rackham, to Ender, in Ender's Game:

"This was the buggers' advance post in the First Invasion. They carved this place out before we even knew they were here...

"In fact, that's how we discovered them. In a period of three days, Eros gradually disappeared from telescopes. We sent a tug to find out why. It found out. The tug transmitted its videos, including the buggers boarding and slaughtering the crew."

Of course, this explanation makes no sense in the context of the extensive asteroid mining happening in the Formic Wars books. Most likely, Eros would belong to Juke Limited or perhaps some government claim preceding the asteroid economy.

Bean's perspective, from Ender's Shadow:

The Buggers made this, probably when they were mounting the second invasion. What was once their forward base was now the center of the International Fleet.

So either Bean guessed wrong about the timing given in Ender's Game or Orson Scott Card changed the timing and Bean guessed right.

It's still possible that the Formics end up creating a base on Eros, but I just can't believe that with so many other asteroids occupied by humans, Eros would not already be taken. Perhaps we'll see a situation where the humans have built facilities on the surface of Eros, which are destroyed by Formics who build tunnels within.

Overall, I get the feeling that the Formic Wars books give humans at more advanced technology at the beginning of the First Invasion than Orson Scott Card intended when he wrote Ender's Game. In particular, interplanetary exploration seems further advanced than Ender's Game or the Shadow books ever indicate.
Posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer (Member # 10416) on :
In Earth Unaware, it is established that the Formics had smaller ships scouting the wake of the mothership (such as the one that attacked when El Cavador was searching a debris field). It's possible that one or more of these ships built the advance post on Eros.

Or maybe they are retconning it to be part of the Second Invasion after all.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
They are retconning it to be part of the second invasion - I asked Johnston about it back when Earth Unware came out, and he says that anything like that that is a major contradiction is almost always a retcon.

Which I think is cool - I like the way the invasions are playing out, and wouldn't give up on that to make the offhand references to Eros's origins match perfectly.
Posted by MathTeacherGuy (Member # 13034) on :
I agree.

Glad to find out that some contradictions should be considered retcons, as some of them really do work better than the original. This is one of them. And I certainly doubt too many people will be hung up on the fact that originally the First Invasion started at Eros; I didn't even remember that detail till I reread Ender's Game immediately after reading Earth Unaware and Earth Afire.
Posted by vineyarddawg (Member # 13007) on :
If you think about it, using Eros as a staging point for the second invasion actually makes more sense. During the first invasion, the Hive Queen didn't anticipate any sentient lifeforms resisting her, so why would you need to establish a forward base for an invasion?

Instead, if your first force was destroyed, it would make more sense to establish the base from which to stage the second invasion. (Of course, she still didn't think humans were sentient, but at the very least she realized there was something out there capable of putting up resistance.)

It is retconning, and is a major contradiction from Ender's Game, but at least it's for a reason that makes sense.
Posted by millernumber1 (Member # 9894) on :
I think that's the spirit Card and Johnston are adopting - let's have the story make sense, rather than try to make everything fit perfectly. And I applaud them for it! (Much as I complain about continuity sometimes myself.)

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