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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » First Formic War Series

   
Author Topic: First Formic War Series
jkcook
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First two are great, when is the third being released?
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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Heh, the latest one only came out yesterday and you're already asking when the next one is?
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millernumber1
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Next summer! [Smile] And if you want to know the story in comic book form, the Formic Wars series is out in trade paperback! Or maybe trade hardcover - not sure, I collected it in floppies.
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Mr. Y
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You downloaded the digital version and stored it on floppy disks?
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Orincoro
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Is that still even possible?
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millernumber1
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Hee. No, that's what the individual issues are called. [Smile]
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Orincoro
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That's needlessly confusing.
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DustinDopps
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Just bear in mind that the comic book story doesn't exactly match up with the novels. They were written first, and the novels are a kind of "re-imagining" of the comic story.

(The books are a lot better, IMO.)

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jkcook
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Next summer??? Way too long. It only takes a day to read. Why a whole year to write??? Torture. Pure torture.
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Jeff C.
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In terms of style, do these books "feel" like the rest of the Ender series? I only ask because I'm worried about how much influence the other writer had in the writing. OSC has always had a certain voice to his work that I fear may be missing here.
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millernumber1
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Well, I don't think it takes a year to write - but there's also planning, and marketing, and editing, and the idea of keeping momentum for a longer period than it takes for people to just read the second book.

The books really do feel like the Ender series - I was really surprised at how well Johnston and Card's voices meshed.

Orincoro - it was not intended to be needlessly confusing (Floppies on wiki).

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
In terms of style, do these books "feel" like the rest of the Ender series? I only ask because I'm worried about how much influence the other writer had in the writing. OSC has always had a certain voice to his work that I fear may be missing here.

I would describe the style as "tedious," in the way that Xenocide or Children of the Mind were tedious.

You have the OSC signature, necessary, absolutely required child abuse and suffering, but be prepared for simpler elements of the stories to be expressed using a great deal of talking and scene setting and repetition, and very little progress to the plot. Also, the stakes are very unclear (or not particularly important) and so the tension in these scenes is very low: you get the Ender's Game child abuse without the thing that made that affecting.

Also all characters are incalculably ingenious, special, and different. And most appear to be children or at least young for what they accomplish. This is, as a I said, a necessity in this series.

But actually, you can be fairly sure that OSC did not pen much or any of these books at all. It is not apparent if he did- it reads like fan fiction very carefully tailored to his style, using images and elements that OSC is known for. For example: the bulk of Earth Unaware is cribbed from Ender in Exile (of all books), as well as elements of the Red Mars series. This most recent book, so far, reads like a homogenized version of Xenocide, Ender's Game, and those awful short stories like A Young Man with Prospects- only not written as well.

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millernumber1
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I respectfully disagree with...um...pretty much all your conclusions, but am curious about how you describe Earth Unaware as "cribbed" from Ender in Exile. I don't really see similarities in structure, hero, or climax - are you thinking more in tone/style/themes?
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DustinDopps
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I also disagree quite strongly with Orincoro's assessment.

Although there is a scene at the beginning with children being bullies, I haven't run into any child abuse yet in the first third of the new novel. Nor do I remember any from "Earth Unaware."

I agree that the main characters are all "special" or super-duper at their work, but that's the whole point isn't it? Card could write a million books about the billions of other people on earth. But a book about how the Formics were stopped necessarily includes exceptional people who were instrumental in the war. The same is true of our history: we remember the exceptional people and study what they did. We forget the average ones. So what?

But perhaps my biggest disagreement is with Orincoro's depiction of the Action vs. Talking in the book. One of the things I like most about Card's writing is his focus on the inner self and big moral dilemmas. I *expect* the story to focus on humans interacting and talking to each other. I *fear* a book that relies on physical descriptions and scene-setting. And whatever Johnston added, it meshes just fine. These new books feel like they belong in the series, which is the highest praise I could give them.

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Thesifer
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I have to disagree with the "Tedious" assessment of the Formic War series. I thought the first book read well, and flowed well.
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steven
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I gave up on every new property in the Enderverse after the second Bean book.

Hopefully, the movie(s) won't disappoint. At this point, though, OSC is milking the Enderverse for all it's worth, and that isn't ideal. I'd rather see him write some more Mithermages or Pathfinder books, or maybe another Lovelock.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by DustinDopps:
I also disagree quite strongly with Orincoro's assessment.

Although there is a scene at the beginning with children being bullies, I haven't run into any child abuse yet in the first third of the new novel. Nor do I remember any from "Earth Unaware."

So aside from one of the main characters being introduced in a scene very much like the beginning of Ender's Game, in which a child is chased, choked and beaten, there is no child abuse. If you put it that way, I guess I agree.

quote:
I agree that the main characters are all "special" or super-duper at their work, but that's the whole point isn't it? Card could write a million books about the billions of other people on earth.
Specialness is a staple of all fiction, and particularly YA fiction. But OSC increasingly relies, to a fault, on his characters being A) geniuses beyond measure, and b) misunderstood by adults. This is an important trope for him, of course, but as it becomes a near absolute requirement, the fact of their genius becomes less and less interesting, as do the ways in which that supposed genius is displayed. To an extent, OSC has to start making the rest of the world dumber, just so that children can keep looking smart.

This opening for the characters in Earth Afire for example: they just recognize that some video is the real article, and the adults don't believe them. Hip Hip Hurray. As dramatic irony, it's flat as a pancake.


quote:
But perhaps my biggest disagreement is with Orincoro's depiction of the Action vs. Talking in the book. One of the things I like most about Card's writing is his focus on the inner self and big moral dilemmas. I *expect* the story to focus on humans interacting and talking to each other. I *fear* a book that relies on physical descriptions and scene-setting. And whatever Johnston added, it meshes just fine. These new books feel like they belong in the series, which is the highest praise I could give them.
On the contrary, this book *appears* to do the same as Card's earlier books by "demonstrating" the how the characters think. It ends up describing the characters anyway, just by having them talk tediously to each other.

The dialogue reminds me of the worst parts of Xenocide (a book that had some good parts), where we are treated to grossly overwrought and repetitive explication of every thought the characters have that is relevant to us understanding the story. And of course, it's all done from one side: the characters, even if there are two or three of them, talk a problem through to an absurdly specific conclusion about what it means, and they are always right.

That's a trick- you may not have noticed it, but your brain did. By giving the characters just enough information and motivation to solve a ludicrously complex puzzle, they are shown to be "smart." Of course, I can't help but notice that the author knew the conclusion when he was writing it. That's cheap.

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DustinDopps
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I don't consider the bullying scene child abuse because it is peer on peer violence. In my mind, child abuse involves a difference in age or power. But I can see how you would disagree.

I do like this statement: "the characters, even if there are two or three of them, talk a problem through to an absurdly specific conclusion about what it means, and they are always right." I see what you mean. I've noticed it in these newer books more than in past ones.

I guess I'm just more willing to suspend my disbelief because I already know how things play out and I know Card and Johnston were writing to fit a pre-determined story from the comics.

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Ronin
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The physics in Earth Unaware really bothered me. The ships have to come to a "full stop" for maintenance and the characters complain that the ship is going "too fast" for them to do a space walk. Space isn't like that, "too fast" relative to what? All they'd need to do is say the "ship is accelerating/decelerating too fast" and it would work.

They also seem to not experience very much "gravity" for a ship that travels so fast. They goto the Kuiper belt in 8 months which (napkin calculation) means they'd have to have an average speed of 12,577,168 m/s, or factor in speeding up and slowing down a top speed of 25 million m/s which would give you an acceleration stronger than the moon's gravity (2.38 m/s acceleration vs 1.6 m/s moon gravity).

This doesn't ruin the book because many of the actions still make sense. The center of the ship has a centrifuge for people to exercise. That makes sense for when they're mining, but not for when they're traveling. And it makes sense that they can't do space walks while the ship is changing speed, but the explanation offered is wrong. "Going really fast" doesn't mean anything because a space walker isn't moving relative to the ship he's on.

The last irritating thing is that no one on earth can see this giant ship coming. Astronomers with today's technology would be able to very easily detect a ship shooting off giant waves of gamma rays in our solar system. we can pick up super novas happening in other galaxies.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Ronin:


The last irritating thing is that no one on earth can see this giant ship coming. Astronomers with today's technology would be able to very easily detect a ship shooting off giant waves of gamma rays in our solar system. we can pick up super novas happening in other galaxies.

That's not especially true. In order to detect the source of Gamma rays, you have to be looking directly at it. In the case of supernovas, they are detected by surveying a sector of the sky, and measuring the difference in total energy output. And because of the enormous distances involved, we actually detect supernovas by visual spectrum light emissions, because higher energy waves are redshifted by distance into that area of the light spectrum (high energy particles appear, from our perspective, to "slow down" over massive distances due to the expanding universe and to the effects of gravity.

So say you had a source of gamma ray emissions in our solar system, the size of say, a city (a really huge spaceship). Well, even an object that size would present a profile that is miniscule against the size of the sky, and gamma rays travel in straight lines from the source: they don't come "in waves" that splash around and raise the total background of gamma emissions much, because gamma rays don't bounce off of other things and reflect back in ways that make them detectable as background noise, the way that light and radio do- the majority of gamma rays shoot through everything they encounter, meaning that the only way to detect a source close to you is to be looking directly at it.

If that source is moving fast, and is small and close to you, then you will not be able to fix its position because you will need two sensors, such as two radio telescopes, to read the same emissions from the object at the same moment, in order to use its parallax to measure how far away it is. Fixing two telescopes on an object that size, at that distance, is not easy. One telescope may, when its receiver points directly at the source, read gamma rays, but that sensor has essentially no way of telling you anything else about the source- which is why we always use multiple telescopes and train them at the same spot in the sky- hard to do if that slice of the sky is very small, and moving very fast. Incoming gamma rays are just a point of data: they don't give you any other information, and detecting them actually moving, that close to Earth, is a feat that modern radio telescopy would not be capable of.

It's counter intuitive, but detecting a source of gamma rays 10 million light years away is much easier than detecting one that is only 10 AU away- owing only to the fact that the source 10 million light years away doesn't have a high relative speed where a telescope is concerned.

Here's a sort-of related real life example: The Wow! signal detected in the 1970s, probably from somewhere relatively close in astronomical terms, was a powerful, narrowband transmission that fit many of the characteristics of an artificial signal from deep space. But despite looking again at the same place in the sky, we have never detected the signal again. It has never been detected because we have no clue about its actual distance from the earth- parallax never being established because it was only detected by one of two sensors in the dish that detected it. We still have no ideas *where* it is- we just know that for an instant its source was in the crosshairs of the telescope.

Imagine throwing a gun high up into the air, and that gun going off and hitting a bullseye on a target a hundred meters away. You would know by looking at the target that there had been a gun, but you wouldn't know where it had gone.

[ June 18, 2013, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Ronin
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