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Speaker for the Dead (1994): Shouldn’t Have used a Bullhorn

Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (Tor, 1994)


And no, I still have no idea what that is on the cover of the book.

The “Author’s Definitive Edition”, complete with boring, if informative, preface almost as long as the book.
photo credit: Amazon

I read Ender’s Game roughly a decade ago and liked it a great deal. In his preface to Speaker for the Dead, Card reveals that this was the book he was originally intending to write; Ender’s Game started off as backstory, but his publisher convinced him it needed to be a novel. An excellent idea, because Ender’s Game is orders of magnitude better than Speaker for the Dead, which I finally ended up abandoning at page fifty after three months of trying to get through it. One of the truly amazing things about Ender’s Game is that while it is, for obvious reasons, an overtly political novel, Card never allows the politics of the thing to get in the way of the story. Here, on the other hand, we don’t even get to story before we start on politics. I’m not sure whether Card felt that he needed to go into a long dissertation on the culture of the piggies with only the thinnest veneer of story overtop it because their culture is alien to ours or because he couldn’t find a better way of working it into the book, but either way, the end result is the same—fifty pages of unreadable dreck. For all I know, it really takes off at page fifty-one, but I wasn’t about to expend any more time figuring that out; I have far too many other books on my shelves demanding my attention, and I’d be willing to lay down big money that 99% of them will be better than this. By far the biggest disappointment of the year for me—perhaps the biggest of the decade. (zero)

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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