196 of 218 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2012
Just sort of seems like OSC phoned this one in, here and there you get some good writing but mostly it struck me as cheap. Some of the sections mention network security were just stupid, "...they have the best firewalls, but we hacked them in seconds while in free fall during a parachute jump using a eye blinking interface." wtf? The depictions of scientists and engineers were so far off the mark as to make me put the book down and shake my head (I am an engineer). We are not two dimensional and can deal with more than black&white problems also many of us can interact with people professionally and even effectively manage them. In many places OSC tries to insert some Newtonian physics but this universally fails and reveals that he really does not have a clue, speed and acceleration are different things. I could go on but you get the point.
I know this review does not really matter and anyone who has read the other books will read this one too as you should, just keep your expectations low. Or maybe read this one in graphic novel form.
205 of 238 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2012
I am so very disappointed... I can't believe Card even read this book, let alone wrote it.
The story is moderately interesting, and the characters are enough to keep you going. However the book displays complete ignorance of the most basic points about physics, gravity, and space flight. (spoilers ahead)
What the heck does it mean to come to a "full stop" in space?
How does it matter how fast you're going when you dock, as long as you're matching velocity?
How can you travel from the Kuiper belt to the Moon in 8 months? At the stated velocity (100,000 mph) it's a 5 year trip. Don't you have Google?
So many many others..
By the way, if you're the mindless appendage of a multi-body organism, why do you snarl in hatred? Do our fingers have expressions? And oh yes, how does a human know that expression is hate?
I am a huge fan of Card's work, but come on, this time nobody even tried. It's OK to stretch the boundaries of science when you write science fiction, but you need to at least consider the actual facts too.
Lastly, Card's work is lyrical and a beautiful read, full of social commentary. This is just a rather poorly written space opera, not much different than the "Bug Eyed Monster" genre of the 1940's. I can't believe Card wrote this; I suspect Mr. Johnson spent most of the time at the keyboard. But Card should have exerted a little editorial control. His name's on the book, and that should be a promise to the reader. Promise not kept!
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2012
Ender's Game is still one of my top 5 books of all time. While I didn't like the followup novels as much, I could still appreciate how well they were written, even if they didn't appeal as much to my reading tastes. Earth Unaware, however, is complete drivel. I have no idea what Card was thinking when he released this, but I should have recognized the warning sign when I saw that it was co-authored. It's not even really a novel, but rather a series of short stories that loosely tie together with a couple of utterly pointless cameo appearances by characters which will play a role later in the Formic wars.
Sadly, it all starts to make sense when you read the Afterward in the book -- this was never originally intended to be a novel. It was backstory that Card created for Ender's Game. Back in 2009 Marvel Comics made several successful runs of comics based on Ender's Game and the Ender universe. This travesty of a novel is the result of Marvel wanting to do a new series with new characters, but still set in the Ender universe. It was created specifically to flesh out the story so Marvel can create a comic book series.
77 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
Earth Unaware really reads like a stripped down action book which has more to do with its comic book roots than with its relation the larger Ender Universe, with its rich and complex layers of worlds and characters, of cultural and philosophical insight.
The book lacks the depth of the rest of the Ender's series and the parallel Shadow series. The world of the asteroid mining culture is fairly well developed, but could benefit by more depth. The culture of earth hardly makes an appearance at all. The story falls short of creating the backstory world the gave rise to Ender and his life. There is actually one character in this story who appears in the Ender's Game series, but he is given a very peripheral treatment. One key element of technology is also introduced. The formics are here, of course, but we learn nothing new.
The parenthetical subtitle, "First Formic War," creates an expectation that is never fulfilled. That's all I'll say about the ending. This was a squandered opportunity to provide us with a deep, rich view of the world where Andrew Wiggin grew up. Where are the insightful commentaries on human nature and society? None of the characters have the complexity of the Wiggins Family or Bean.
The overall structure of the book is difficult to follow. Each of the first three chapters is about a totally different set of characters in different worlds, and the book bounces among them with little natural transition. Of course this is a technique that Card uses in his longer books, but here in this shorter story I found it jarring. Two threads are connected about 2/3 of the way through the book, and the other thread finally comes into juxtaposition , but never fully connects. Maybe it is the collaborative nature of the writing that gives this narrative an irregular, disjointed feeling.
The writing itself, while better than a lot of what is being published today as science fiction, lacks the flair, the imagery, the depth of Card's usual prose. How about this trite little sentence fragment? "Laughs so big and long that tears came out of his eyes." (Lacks tense agreement, too). Or a tired metaphor? "Coming home with eight was like Christmas come early." But, maybe it's not fair to pick out things here and there. Let's just say that "fresh and imaginative" is not how I would describe the writing style. There are also several typographical and grammatical errors that got by the copy editors and proofreaders. Tsk-tsk.
When my daughter suggested Ender's Game to me earlier this year, I was captivated and read the entire series of four books and the parallel Shadow series of four books plus the extras. I pre-ordered this one for my Kindle and anticipated its arrival for months. Maybe I was expecting too much, but this book is not up to the standards that Card has set. It was a bit of a let down.
This is a three star rating, and one of those stars is for Orson Scott Card's name. He is a master writer who has influenced me deeply.
Will there be a prequel sequel? The possibility is there. Let's hope its more than a comic book without pictures.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2012
I had a little trouble throughout the novel with the assumption by spaceship drivers that a space walk would be dangerous "at high speed". Speed is irrelevant in space (with the exception of space dust and rock particles) - what matters is accelleration. You wouldn't want to do a space walk while a ship was accellerating or decellerating or executing a change in course - but moving at a constant high speed relative to the the planetary coordinate system should be OK.
It didn't "ruin" the story, but the point was made so many times by different characters that it grew into a problem by the end of the novel.
Note: When I learned in reading the Afterword that the novel was extrapolated from a comic book series - the "loose" physics became more understandable. Somehow mistakes in how the universe works are easier to swallow in a pulp magazine comic than in a regular novel.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2013
I was thrilled to find Orson Scott Card had finally written about the beginning of the Formic wars - the prequel to the Ender's Game saga, so as soon as I saw this on Amazon, I snapped it up. I should have paid attention to the co-author. I had read the other book he'd done with Card (Invasive Procedures) and was, shall we say, less than impressed.
Let me first state that this was better than that other book. Which is faint praise.
What follows contains spoilers, so if you haven't read this book and want to, stop here and know it's not very good.
Okay, my moral duty is taken care of. This book is literally 450 pages (in paperback) and is merely the introduction to the story we came to read. It ends, basically, where the real story starts.
It is packed with so much that doesn't move the story forward that it's mind-boggling. There is an entire sub plot (I use "plot" very loosely) about a commando team that rejected Mazer Rackham, the hero of the first Formic wars according to all the other Ender books. In fact, they spend an entire chapter early in the book setting up that rejection. After that, the only other mention of this hero of the wars was one sentence in one of the final chapters that, "I should have taken that Rackham guy. We could use him."
An entire book about that would have made sense. A quarter of a book about the team that doesn't use him (and is filled with supermen, perfect human beings, by the way, who can do anything, are completely interchangeable, a cohesive whole as a group even though they've never met, etc., etc., etc.) who add exactly zero to the story is quite another. Let's follow Mazer and see what happens after the rejection that made him who he became. Let's follow him as a child so we could see why this crack commando leader considered him in the first place. That would be classic Card. Let's not follow training missions that are designed to prove how perfect these perfect men are.
The book focuses mostly on a space mining family way out in the Kuiper Belt - the group that first detects the threat coming toward Earth and first encounters and battles them. Again, this family is important, really, only for that one reason - they were the first to notice the threat. The entire thrust of the book (well, thrust is a bit of a stretch) is to get word of the threat back to Earth.
Again, there are "perfect" people in this family. They have the best coders, the best engineers, the best star gazers in the universe. MacGyver would be proud.
The remaining story line (well, there are others that crop up to intrude for a chapter or two) follows the Corporate mining ship, helmed by the son of the owner of the biggest corporation ever. His internal dialog made me want to slap him (and the writer) almost every time he was there. And again, none of it moves the story forward. At all. Not even a little bit. They set up this amazing invention (if you discount the science behind it) then... DON'T USE IT! Instead, they do a "moon walk" on the alien ship to plant little bombs!
And about that. It is clearly established that nuclear strikes didn't disable the early Formic ships. How are little explosives going to breach their hull?
All of this could have been used as exposition. I could even forgive it being a third of the book, leading in to Earth actually being caught unaware and having to scramble. To have an entire 450 page novel be exposition for the next one is inexcusable.
In all of Card's other series, The Alvin Maker series, Homecoming, etc., each novel told a compelling and complete story. Yes, he lead you to some cliffhangers so you'd want to continue reading, but each has a story. This is just the introduction to the story.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
I have really enjoyed Card's Ender books, but having read science fiction for over 50 years I could hardly get through these last two books due to the massive ignorance on the part of Card and his editors in putting out books that are so technically and scientifically wrong that anyone with even a modicum of understanding of Newtonian physics finds incredibly offensive. I did enjoy the rest of the story, but had to completely jettison my critical acumen in order to get past these horrific mistakes.
As long as the author writes about things beyond the critique of existing science, he has been both enjoyable and plausible. But for someone to write for an educated audience about something that he obviously knows nothing about and is completely wrong becomes really pathetic.
We can only hope that someone with get through to the author or editors and get them to fix these problems before next book comes out and adds insult to injury.
Rewriting the first two novels would also be a really good idea so that future readers are not subjected to such disappointing errors.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2014
I would only recommend this book if you absolutely have to read everything in the Ender universe. It's hardly a stellar example and, even though it's a prequel, I wouldn't suggest this series as anybody's first taste of Ender.
I'll give you a particularly nerdy complaint: The author doesn't understand the difference between acceleration and velocity. There are so many examples of this misunderstanding that it completely ruined my enjoyment of an otherwise completely mediocre story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2014
Skip this series. It is sad when a classic like Enders Game becomes a pure cash grab. Obviously Card let his ghost writer do the work, but with all the excellent writers out there, how do you find a co-writer this untallented? Awful dialogue, cliché situations, and since all the science is wrong, you cannot rank this as science fiction without being overly kind. SPOILER: The fundamental question of Enders Game was that the Formics actions did not justfy the genocide that Ender used to end the war. But, this prequel establishes that the Formics attacked Earth in an unprovoked gencidal act that intended to kill all life on the Earth and allow the Formics to teraform the planet. So, given this prequel, it makes no sense that humans would have had any qualms over the eventual genocide of the Formics. Did Card even read this series? Skip it so it doesn't ruin the Ender Series for you.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
I got a copy of the book to review from the publisher a couple days after it came out and I was not paid to write this review. It took me a couple days to start it, once I got a few chapters in, I found it hard to put down.
Telling the tale of three different groups, Earth Unaware is split between the Delgado clan aboard the El Cavador, the Juke Limited science crew on the Makarhu, and the MOPs led by Captain Wit O'Toole back on Earth. Each storyline features very well fleshed out characters and it's very well written to interlace the stories of the two mining ships.
However, the story feels incomplete when it comes to Captain Wit. I expected his storyline to intersect with Victor's at the end, but when it ultimately didn't, it made Wit's whole part in the book seem rather pointless. Readers will undoubtedly find the brief appearance and subsequent disappearance of Mazer Rackham quite frustrating. It's pretty clear that everything written about Wit and the MOPs is only there for backstory. In the end, this is why I gave it four stars instead of five because Wit's chapters take up a decent chunk of the novel.
That aside though, the rest of the book is wonderfully written, well paced, and exciting to read. While Ender's Game tended to shield Ender (and therefore the reader) from death until the very end, this book is much more blunt and honest, since Victor is a free miner and so much more mature than is to be expected from a typical teenager. With this tone set for the book, Card and Johnston don't hold back when it comes to character death.
Overall, it's definitely worth picking up and I look forward to their next book.
UPDATE: Had my husband read it and he hated it. He said the science part of the book was truly awful and downright wrong. Just thought I'd add that in for people who read science fiction for the science. (since I tend to read more for adventure and characters)