First Meetings in Ender's Universe by Card, Orson S., 2004

First Meetings in Ender

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I have not read much of Card's Enderverse yet, save the first book, one about Bean and another about Peter. So it was a little bit odd for me to buy on impulse this paperback. But I'm very very glad I did. First Meetings in Ender's Universe is a book of YA novellas that detail the early histories of some of the first book's characters, including Graff. The is also a post Ender's Game novella that appeared in Silverberg's Far Horizons, a great anthology of original stories in well established universes including a Hyperion (Simmons) story, a Hanish (LeGuin) story, a Helva (Ship who Sang, McCaffrey) story, a Forever War (Haldemann) story, an Uplift (Brin), Heechee (Pohl), Roma Eterna (Silverberg), Sleepless (Kress), and a Way (Bear) story. Included also in this (second) edition was the original Ender's Game novella from 1977 as well.

Since this is a YA adventure bookgood and evil are easily identifiable. In the first story where Ender's Father is recruited by Capt. Graff himself. The Wieczorek family is the poor downtrodden family of 11 in unaligned Poland and and the International Fleet is pure evil full who wants to exploit their prodigal son, John Paul (Ender's father as a youth). The story though, is pretty interesting, and Card does not shy away from controversial ideas. Basically Poland, a catholic nation, has only recently buckled under to international pressure to adopt the strict population control laws of the Hegemony which mandate no more than two children. As a man with a family of nine children John Paul's father cannot legally be employed, and his children cannot legally be educated. John Paul scores through the roof on the exam being given for Battle School, and he tries to use that to better his family's situation. He barters a deal where he is allowed to decide if he wants to go to Battle School in exchange for his parents employment and his sibling's education. Graff agrees to the deal after he realizes that John Paul is never going to willingly help him, under the assumption that he can manipulate John Paul into marrying the right woman to produce the Kwiza....I mean the Alexander type general he needs.

The second story is how Graff engineers the relationship between Ender's parents, but more than that its a discussion between John Paul and his future wife of the durability and logic behind the population control laws, and it adds to the political strife between the Warsaw Pact and the Hegemony. I particularly liked it because it discussed Darwinism through the eyes of a political theorist, and did a pretty good job of the social engineering side of things too.

The piece edited by Silverberg tells the story of the beginning of Ender's career as a Speaker for the Dead. The end of the story is almost like a funeral dirge in its metering and pace. Its a beautiful story of the fate of a remorseless financial criminal that examines why he does what he does, and how one of his victims can step up to the plate and not only forgive, but ease the pain of the innocent family he left behind.

I'd only recommend this book for Ender completists, or for parents of teens who they are trying to steer towards SF. Four out of five stars.

Copyright � 2007, Gregory Tidwell

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 3 star(s)

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