Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

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Another week, another chapter in the Ender saga.

This one carried on where the second one left off, merely thirty years later. Ender and friends have established a community where humans, piggies and buggers are living in relative harmony. Unfortunately, due to events at the end of the previous book, the Congress, who rule the whole of the universe it seems, are mad with a couple of Lusitanian citizens and have ordered them to appear at a trial. Lusitania has made the decision not to comply and a fleet is currently travelling towards them, ready to blast them out of the sky.

In addition, a scientists on Lusitania are battling with a virus, known as the descolada. The virus attacks humans with a gleeful vigour, but the remaining life forms on the planet rely on it for life. As such, the scientists are trying to figure out not just how to kill it, but how to disable it so that all species can be safe. Life, in conclusion, is very hard.

All of the Ender books so far have been quite concerned with ethics but this one is particularly so. I do think it is my least favourite so far, partly for this reason. There is a lot of condemnation of genetic modification and discussion of how to genetically modify in the most ethical way, and this appears in a couple of storylines throughout the book.

There is also a lot of science-y discussion, which I suppose is to be expected in a sci-fi book. However, it got a bit dull and I must say that I skipped most of the explanation about ‘philotes’, in particular. It seemed to be to do with links between people and things and faster than light travel. I didn’t understand it and I trusted that if I didn’t bother, I would follow it anyway which was pretty much right.

It felt a bit like this was a filler book, setting things up for the climax in the final book. I did enjoy it, particularly being introduced to a new set of characters, religious Chinese OCD sufferers on the planet Path, but it’s the weakest so far.

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