Speaker for the Dead Review

05:52 Mon 26 Oct 2009
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Speaker for the Dead is the second novel in Orson Scott Card’s Ender series. It won the Nebula award in 1986 and the Hugo and Locus awards in 1987. Its predecessor, Ender’s Game, is revered as a science fiction and geek cult classic that still has resonance in geek culture. I liked Ender’s Game when I first read it years ago, and when I re-read it recently (prior to Speaker for the Dead), I enjoyed it and thought it held up quite well.

Ender’s Game is quite a tightly-packed tale, one that carries the reader along with plot and character development that gel well with the gradual revelations about the larger setting. Speaker for the Dead feels much less convincing on a number of levels. It’s not as compact—we’re not following Ender as he grows older, the plot in synch with his development. Furthermore, while Ender’s Game seemed plausible in terms of characterization in its limited environment (I felt the weakest characters were Ender’s siblings, and the others outside of the military), Speaker for the Dead relies quite heavily on Card’s depiction of a broader range of people in far less restricted environments. I don’t think he succeeds with them, and the idea that Ender would be able to perceive them so clearly just rang false for me throughout.

I also felt that the concept that Ender and his friends and family were essentially the most important people in the universe wore thin. Again, that made sense in Ender’s Game, but works far less well in the sequel.

Overall I found it enjoyable, and thought it had some fairly interesting ideas, but it wasn’t a classic the same way Ender’s Game was, and it didn’t really feel like a deserving winner of the award trio.

One Response to “Speaker for the Dead Review”

  1. Niall Says:

    But Ender’s Game is a novel primarily about childish concerns, and Speaker, a novel about adults’.

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