Monday, February 6, 2012
Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
Card has, for many years, been one of those authors whose novels I'm unable to put down until finished, once I start. This novel, part of the endless Ender's Game saga, wasn't quite that enthralling, but it managed to wrap up one dangling plot thread from the tale of his old sidekick in Battle School, Bean (Julian Delphiki). Bean was a genetically engineered human, designed by a scientist to have extremely high intelligence, but an unfortunate side effect of the process was that it turned off the genetic switch regulating growth, and Bean is destined to continue growing, becoming a giant whose body will not survive past his mid twenties.
In an earlier book, Bean and Petra (also from Battle School) fell in love, married, and had children. Three of the children, Andrew, Carlotta and Cincinattus, were afflicted with Anton's syndrome, and Bean takes the children away from Earth with him on a starship, hoping to take advantage of the time dilation effect to allow researchers to work on a cure. They are well into the voyage at the beginning of this tale.
They discover an Earth-like planet in a distant solar system, at the same time as a ship of the Hive Queens goes into orbit around it. Everyone believes that all of the Hive Queens (save the one in its cocoon that Ender, Speaker for the Dead, is still dragging around the galaxy with him) are dead, and the Formic threat destroyed. Bean and the children decide to attempt contacting the aliens, and there's some interesting stuff about what they discover on board, as to the fate of the Formics.
Not his best work, but amusing, and it wraps up a sub plot nicely.