Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shadows in Flight

I've lost confidence in Orson Scott Card over the years.  It pains me to say it, because I consider him one of my top three favorite authors, but his books haven't interested me as much for quite some time.  I avoided his latest, Shadows in Flight, so as not to be disappointed again.  Luckily, I have a dad who buys more audible credits than me, and gave SiF a listen after running out of new audiobooks for April.  Card, I can happily say, is back to his old form in this continuation of his Bean offshoot of Ender books.

SiF is a short story.  It's around 55,000 words, which is about half of Card's normal novel length.  This hurt the book in the end, since I absolutely wanted more, but the quality of story was up to par.  That sounds so asshole-ish to say.  Who am I to judge Orson Scott Card's quality?  I certainly couldn't do any better, nor could many professionals working today.  I only mean that I enjoyed SiF more than his recent novels, and felt it fit well into the Ender universe of tales.

The story is simple.  Bean is dying, his body growing ever onward to heart failure as his genetic alteration turns him into a giant.  He and his three children--all of which have his same genetic altering--are flying through space at a speed near to light.  Over four-hundred years have passed on Earth since they left, but because of the effects of relativistic travel, they've only seen five years inside their ship.  They find an old Formic ship orbiting a planet, and drop in to see why a supposedly extinct alien race seems about to form a new colony.  Mysteries are uncovered, creepy crab aliens are encountered and gunned down.  SiF was a fun listen.

The last chapter of the book was at the same time my favorite and least-favorite part.  Least-favorite because it ended after that.  I felt there should have been a few more chapters to finish the story.  Despite the sudden end, the last bit really hit me as a new parent, listening to Bean ponder the path his life had taken.  Bean sacrificed much of his own life for that of his three children on the space ship with him.  I think I liked SiF as much as I did because it got me thinking of my own daughter, and about the sacrifices I have made, and am willing to make for her.  I even started tearing up, thanks to Card.  He hasn't made me feel emotion from his books in a very long time.  And going along with my last post, this is a great example of a writer using resonance in his work.  Card gave Bean the perspective of a loving parent, which I have had a dose of since my girl was born.

Shadows in Flight is by no means Card's greatest, but besides Ender's Shadow, I thought it the best of the Ender offshoot series.  If you're a long-time fan of Ender and Bean, you'll enjoy the book.  If you've never read the two series, don't bother starting here.  You'll be lost.  But if you're one of the few, why in hell haven't you read Ender's Game?  It's one of the greatest tales of the last century!

Shadows gets 3 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe one day when I feel like reading a book you suggest this might be a good pick:) Is is horrible that I don't even remember who Bean is?