Xenocide (Ender's Saga, #3) - Orson Scott Card It's been years since I first read this--back when this was the most recent Ender novel. Since then I learned more than I ever wanted to know about Orson Scott Card's beliefs. That has affected my reread. I found with Ender's Game I was struck here and there with things I could see displaying his worldview, but the propulsive action of the story made me zip past and enjoy anyway. With the second book, Speaker for the Dead I was reading a lot of his philosophy into the novel and feeling it tainted with experience. Yet, with Xenocide I found it didn't matter anymore to me what Card believes. I love this book. I love his writing. Strange really, because my memory of my reaction the first time around was that Ender's Game was the strongest of the three. It certainly was the strongest in my memory--I remembered a lot of the incidents of the first book, and none of the next two, yet after a reread I found this as strong in its way as the first book. I love philosophical books, ones that make you think, yet by and large I hate polemic, feeling as if a book has an agenda. It can be a very hard line to toe in fiction--having something to say without feeling like the writer is preaching to the reader. Card does this beautiful job of creating thinking creatures that truly feel alien and are great foils for humans, and in creating characters and societies so integrated with the plot, it all feels so organic. Xenocide deals with some sophisticated concepts in physics, metaphysics, and theology but the dialogue never feels infodumpy or like a speech to me or the events like allegory, because it comes straight out the heart of the plot and characters, and their efforts to survive. Speaker of the Dead dealt with Lusitania, home of the only other known sentient species, the technologically primitive "piggies" where Ender has now resurrected a previously extinct sentient species known as the "buggers" with whom mankind had been at war. The Starways Congress is sending a weapon that will wipe out both sentient species--and stopping them means exposing yet another intelligence to destruction, Jane, who started as a computer program and seems to live in the spaces of a faster than light internet. The primary opponent of Lusitania, in service of Congress, is the plant "Path." Path is ethnically Chinese and devoted to Taoism and its people reveres the Gang of Four. The path is described as: "First the gods. Second the ancestors. Third the People. Fourth the rulers. Last the self." Without elaborating, I can tell you that's inimical to my own beliefs, so it amazed me how Card got me to feel sympathy for the culture, then twisting and reversing a lot of my expectations, both about the society and the characters--and certainly Han Qing-jao is one of the most tragic figures I've read in science fiction. One negative note on a technicality--my trade paperback 1991 edition was filled with typos, though it didn't keep me from enjoying the novel. I've found that since I first read this, there is a fourth novel, which is fitting when I consider how much is left unresolved at the end of this book--Children of the Mind. I'll certainly be looking it up. *SPOILERS AHEAD* Incidentally, I'm wondering if "Peter" is really as evil as Ender thinks at the end of this novel--especially given the hint of the sequel's title. After all, he was created out of what Ender wanted, even if subconsciously. Maybe he created Peter, because after all he knew there was a role only Peter could play in the work that still needed to be done--as Peter said, there was some shaking up in human government that needed doing, and Peter has the qualities to do it--maybe even qualities Ender doesn't admit to. Also, I have to add that I do end up rather despising Novinha--she raises all my hackles as someone raised Catholic against all in the religion I see wrong and inimical to human happiness. And that if Ender can't divorce her, I wish he could go on another time dilation trip and escape her that way--but of course unless he brought the rest of his family with him, that in itself would carry a terrible price. But maybe Novinha, like Peter, will get a chance to redeem herself in the next and last book. Of course, I suspect Card's ideas of "good" and "redemption" might be very far away from mine. And finally, am I the only one who thought of LDS (Mormon) views of the soul being played out in the "philotes" of the story?