Speaker for the Dead picks up three thousand years after the events of Ender’s Game and thanks to relativistic travel, Ender is only 35. Unlike its action-filled predecessor, it sets up as a suspenseful mystery, with Ender searching for the cause of several deaths– while racing to prevent more. The mystery of the piggies is a mystery that’s part technology, part religion, and part crazy biology, of a type we’ve never seen before.

No one bothered to ask how the piggy got over the fence. They were too busy realizing what he meant by planting Miro.

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Speaker for the Dead is unique not just because it is a sequel that won the Hugo and Nebula awards, nor because its predecessor, Ender’s Game, also won both awards. It is unique but because it in some ways inspired Ender’s Game.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Well, let’s see. It’s got space travel. And aliens. And the far-off future. And it won the Hugo Award. And it won the Nebula Award. And it’s the sequel to one of our favorite sci-fi books of all time, Ender’s Game.  So really, we had no choice. After reading Ender’s Game we just had to see what Card would come up with for an encore.

Ender continues to show why he is such a genius in sleuthing that rivals any we’ve read from Sherlock Holmes or Poirot or the Hardy Boys. (actually, nevermind that last one. But the point is, what geek wouldn’t identify with a hero that’s that smart?)

Rating (5 stars)

Unlike Ender’s Game, which was full of battles and action scenes, Speaker for the Dead has very little in the way of action scenes but is no less gripping.

Ender’s Game was originally a short story that Orson Scott Card originally wrote in 1977. Eight years later, he came up with the idea for Speaker for the Dead, and even wrote an outline of the book. However, in order to make the story work, he first had to re-write Ender’s Game as a full-length novel.

Despite this, Speaker for the Dead would seem to work well as a stand-alone novel – Card explains the basic premise early on, and most of the story is completely new from Ender’s Game.

If there is one downside to Speaker for the Dead, it’s that it ends on a clear cliffhanger, setting up for a sequel. After Ender’s Game, it seemed like almost all of the story lines were tied up and completed. Speaker for the Dead very blatantly leads you into Xenocide – but unlike when Speaker for the Dead was first published, you won’t have to wait four years for to come out. Like me, you can pick up your copy now – whatever Card wrote, we know it’s good.