The Swarm: The Second Formic War (Volume 1) (The Second Formic War, 1) Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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About the Author
Orson Scott Card is best known for his science fiction novel Ender's Game and its many sequels that expand the Ender Universe into the far future and the near past. Those books are organized into the Ender Quintet, the five books that chronicle the life of Ender Wiggin; the Shadow Series, that follows on the novel Ender's Shadow and are set on Earth; and the Formic Wars series, written with co-author Aaron Johnston, that tells of the terrible first contact between humans and the alien "Buggers." Card has been a working writer since the 1970s. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s, Card's first published fiction appeared in 1977--the short story "Gert Fram" in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelette version of "Ender's Game" in the August issue of Analog. The novel-length version of Ender's Game, published in 1984 and continuously in print since then, became the basis of the 2013 film, starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin. Card was born in Washington state, and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he runs occasional writers' workshops and directs plays. He frequently teaches writing and literature courses at Southern Virginia University.
He is the author many sf and fantasy novels, including the American frontier fantasy series "The Tales of Alvin Maker" (beginning with Seventh Son). There are also stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels like Pastwatch and Hart's Hope. He has collaborated with his daughter Emily Card on a manga series, Laddertop. He has also written contemporary thrillers like Empire and historical novels like the monumental Saints and the religious novels Sarah and Rachel and Leah. Card's recent work includes the Mithermages books (Lost Gate, Gate Thief), contemporary magical fantasy for readers both young and old. Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card. He and Kristine are the parents of five children and several grandchildren.
AARON JOHNSTON is the coauthor of The New York Times bestselling novels Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, and other Ender's Game prequel novels. He was also the co-creator and showrunner for the sci-fi series Extinct, as well as an associate producer on the movie Ender’s Game. He and his wife are the parents of four children.
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765375621
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765375629
- Dimensions : 6.47 x 1.48 x 9.58 inches
- Publisher : Tor Books; 1st Edition (August 2, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #308,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In Ender's Game, belief in the existence of the Hive Queen was something that got Mazer "laughed to silence" by authorities after the Final Battle. In this book, Mazer and Bingwen PROVE that the Hive Queen exists before the Second Formic War even begins, and take videos of one of her "Daughters".
In Ender's Game, the idea that the Hive Queen is the ruling and animating will/intelligence in the Formics is something that Mazer introduces to Ender as a new concept that is not widely understood/accepted by the Fleet or humanity, a hundred years after the Second Formic War. In this book, most everyone already agrees that the Formics have a hive mind, controlled by one intelligent being, even before Bingwen shoots video proving the Hive Queen's existence.
The casual use of the Ansible by various military commanders and the Ansible falling into Pirate hands makes the idea of it being a total secret 100 years later when Ender/Bean learn about it, is pretty out there.
In Ender's Game, the first contact with the Formics is supposed to be when they blacked out Eros, and Eros was supposed to have been the Formic's forward post, won by 1000 marines fighting through tunnels to eradicate the Formics. This is how we supposedly stole their tech. In this book, they do black out a random asteroid, but it isn't Eros, and the 1000 marines who die are no where in sight, nor is any of the tech Mazer talks about.
Finally, the existence of Daughters of the Hive Queen as "battle generals" brings up a huge point -- in Ender's Game our main strategic advantage according to Mazer was that we have "greater available intelligence" that we can bring to bear on each battle, because we have many commanders, while the Formics only have the Queen. Having Daughters of the Hive Queen seems to blow this out of the water.
I know this seems really nit-picky. I did actually enjoy the book on its own, but the contradictions and inconsistencies between the existing Enderverse and this book constantly brought me up short, and took me out of the story.
All the principal players are back:
Victor and Imala get the best storyline as they reconnoiter an asteroid on which an advance Formic ship has landed. They discover the secrets of how Formics build their ships and breed their soldiers during interstellar voyages.
Mazer faces his second court martial, an event alluded to in the original Ender's Game. This plotline seemed a bit pedestrian because series readers already know that a) Mazer will see significant combat in the coming conflict, and b) he has a secret ally in the Strategos who could step in and save him at any moment.
Bingwen joins GravCamp, an early forerunner of Battle School for children. There is a great ethical debate between the harsh commander of the school and Mazer, who believes enlisting children is a moral outrage. Of course, the irony comes because readers already know Mazer will one day become an even more demanding taskmaster of an even younger Ender Wiggin.
The story ties to the larger saga in a number of other ways, too. Readers see the creation of the ansible, the first Battle Room, the genesis of the population laws, and early theories about philotes. Of course, the universe is also unfortunately stuck with some of the bad decisions of the previous books--laserized gamma rays, nanobots smaller than atoms, and a bureaucratic fictional military that is so overwritten as to be a caricature of how large organizations operate in real life.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel despite a somewhat sluggish pace.
However, there is also an irritant that is hard to overlook. In an effort to keep broadening readers' understanding of the universe, the series keeps introducing new continuity flaws. Characters during the Second Formic War now understand more about the nature of Formics than the characters in books set hundreds of years later. For example, Ender does not discover their ability to bioengineer "gold bugs" until the time of Ender in Exile, but given the events of The Swarm, he should have had easy access to this information. Likewise, some of Bean's epiphanies in Shadows in Flight concerning how Formic queens subjugate their drones seem obvious, no longer revolutionary, in light of what is observed in this book, even though this book is a prequel.
The book ended on an interesting note. Bingwen observes the birth and death of a Hive Queen daughter, and how it affects her Formic platoon. It leads the characters to make assumptions about what will happen to the alien fleet if the Hive Queen is assassinated, but series readers will immediately grasp that those assumptions are not quite correct based on how we already know the war will end.
Top reviews from other countries
Nano tech .... it feels out of place in my view (especially since it wasn't in the Ender trilogy)
What happened to the G-laser from the first Formic war?
Maybe it's just me knit picking. I just felt abit let down by the new tech time line, the books didn't feel like they fitted in the time/tech line off the ender'verse
On the whole its a good read, and I will be getting the next book as I really enjoyed all the other books