Sunday, December 15, 2013

Speaker for the Dead, chapter one, part two, in which species is decided by vote

We left mid-scene last time, so not much to introduce here.  Since I no longer have a movie-related deadline to set the pace of posts, and this is the first chapter, I'm going back to smaller chunks of book and greater detail each week.  Let's draw this sucker out, eh?

(Content: religious coercion, parent/guardian negligence, identity policing.  Fun content: taking a level in science, oven-fresh science.)

Speaker for the Dead: p. 8--19

We return to Dona Cristã and Pipo considering what's wrong with the orphan girl Novinha, and I am not sure about these generalisations--Pipo thinks that "There was no teacher who genuinely liked her, because she refused to reciprocate, to respond", and all I can think is that this colony world is painfully unequipped with teachers qualified to teach, for example, autistic children.  I suppose that's quite possible, even three thousand years into the future, but they have an instantaneous galactic internet and no one has maybe looked into taking a course on care for children with social/emotional disabilities, because I guess Novinha's situation is obviously impossibly unique and there are no known techniques to aid such a case?  Teachers knowing what they're doing or caring about emotionally-isolated children?  SILLINESS.

Mind you, the rest of the people in the town of Milagre are also pretty realistically terrible.  The Pope beatified Novinha's parents, and so random people keep asking her if she's ever seen any miracles related to her parents, which could justify their sainthood.  Her response was evidently a smackdown:
"She said, more or less, that if her parents were actually listening to prayers and had any influence in heaven to get them granted, then why wouldn't they have answered her prayer, for them to return from the grave?  That would be a useful miracle, she said, and there are precedents.  If Os Venerados actually had the power to grant miracles, then it must mean they did not love her enough to answer her prayer.  She preferred to believe that her parents still loved her, and simply did not have the power to act. [....] She told the Bishop that if the Pope declared her parents to be venerable, it would be the same as the Church saying that her parents hated her. The petition for canonization of her parents was proof that Lusitania despised her; if it was granted, it would be proof that the Church itself was despicable."
Not flawless logic, but damn good effort for a ten-year-old, and rather more plausible for its flaws.  The petition was sent anyway, of course, "for the good of the community", and everyone is just super awkward about Novinha.  I really hope she's going to be a misotheist, because I don't think I could handle Card writing an 'I'm-an-atheist-because-I'm-angry-at-God' character.

Dona Cristã explains that, with Novinha's emotional distance, no one really asks about her for her own sake except Pipo, thus why she's there to speak to him now.  Libo protests that Novinha does in fact have one friend, Marçao, because he was once accused of some unidentified misdeed and Novinha testified to who the real perpetrators were--Dona Cristã thinks this had less to do with liking Marçao and more Novinha's desire for justice, but Marçao apparently likes her anyway.  Libo, when asked for his opinion, thinks honestly for a moment, which impresses his dad because Pipo knows he isn't just thinking up the answer that he expects they will praise or protest the most, unlike most kids, because other people's kids are losers, I guess?  Libo says he "understood that she didn't want to be liked", and then leaves with a smirk of discretion even as Cristã is asking him to leave and be discreet, et cetera et cetera children are more mature than adults.

Novinha has applied to be a xenobiologist--not for training or apprenticeship, but to start immediately, based on the independent study she's apparently been conducting this whole time.  They note that at 13 she's not even the youngest ever; two thousand years earlier there was one who passed the test as a pre-teen.  And apparently in the whole colony there are zero other xenobiologists, so they're lacking in new plant life to improve their crops and yields.  How big is this colony?  As pointed out in last week's comments, colonisation was supposedly to help with Baía's overpopulation, but it seems like they only sent a few thousand people at best, and the incredibly important role of 'alien life scientist' has been vacant for several years now after they lost their first two.  (The plague killed about 500, which seems to have been a noteworthy chunk but not enough to wipe them out, so... I'm thinking in the 3000 range?)  Dona Cristã wants Pipo to supervise the testing:
"But believe me, my dear friend, touching her heart is like bathing in ice." 
"I imagine.  I imagine it feels like bathing in ice to the person touching her.  But how does it feel to her?  Cold as she is, it must surely burn like fire." 
"Such a poet," said Dona Cristã.  There was no irony in her voice; she meant it.  "Do the piggies understand what we've sent our very best as our ambassador?" 
"I try to tell them, but they're skeptical."
Reasonable.  Is this entire cast once again going to be made up entirely of people who are The Best At Everything?  Pipo notes that if Novinha fails, she will "have very bad problems" and if she passes he jokes that Libo will want to test for zenador and if his son passes that test then he might as well go home and die, which is apparently some kind of joke, but... this is intriguingly archaic.  Three thousand years into the future and scientific disciplines are 'the family business' and you only ever bother having one at a time because I guess there isn't enough demand for science to need two?  Like, sure, people need science, but then you just go down the street and pick up a fresh science from the sciencery and they already make enough for everyone to get all the science they need hot out of the oven so any additional science would just go to waste?

The next day, Novinha goes to confront Pipo and she is made of angry and smart.  She says she'll jump through all his pointless hoops as long as he lines them up fast enough rather than putting her off, and cites the Starways Code as giving her the right to challenge the test at any time.
Novinha saw the intense look in his eyes.  She didn't know Pipo, so she thought it was the look she had seen in so many eyes, the desire to dominate, to rule her, the desire to cut through her determination and break her independence, the desire to make her submit.
Well... it kind of is?  Pipo ended the last scene by thinking that he was going to test her for "the unmeasurable qualities of a scientist" that he sees in his son, and intends to stop her from taking the test if he isn't satisfied.  So yeah.  He's decided that he's in charge here regardless of galactic law.  Also, an old man judging the qualitative scientific aptitude of a young girl against his son; does this not set off huge sexism alarm bells?  He might not be doing it purely out of ego, but Novinha is otherwise quite right to be suspicious.

She snaps at him that the planet needs a xenobiologist and Pipo is going to make them wait just so he can feel in control longer, and she's startled that he doesn't snap back.  He makes it clear that he doesn't believe she's doing this out of altruism.
"Your own words called you a liar.  You spoke of how much they, the people of Lusitania, need you.  But you live among us.  You've lived among us all your life.  Ready to sacrifice for us, and yet you don't feel yourself to be part of this community."
I do not remotely follow how that proves that she's not doing it out of altruism, but Pipo is running with it, telling Novinha that she has withdrawn from the colony in every way she can, from the student community, from the church community, et cetera, and then he hits one of my buttons:
"[...] You are so completely detached that as far as possible you don't tough the life of this colony, you don't touch the life of the human race at any point."
And the reason I hate this is that Novinha is human and therefore her experiences are part of the life of 'the human race' even if she never met another human in her whole life.  This is the same format of thinking that allows people to marginalise and devalue the identities of any minority: to speak of, for example, 'Christians rejecting queers' itself rejects the existence of queer Christians (generally by asserting that they're not really Christians, as proven by how they're not oppressing themselves enough); to speak of how Canadians are racist towards First Nations people ignores the fact that First Nations are Canadian and legitimises the idea that the only Real Canadians are white people.  It simplifies the world, which can be useful and attractive, but it does it the wrong way.

Anyway.  Novinha is shocked that Pipo understands her isolation, and so has no defences against it; she continues to protest his stonewalling as he finally gets around to arguing that if she hates everyone, she can't want to be a xenobiologist out of altruism, therefore she must have some other motivation and some other community.  It is apparently objectively true that everyone must have a community or die.  Novinha snarks that she's obviously insane.
"Not insane.  Driven by a sense of purpose that is frightening.  If you take this test you'll pass it.  But before I let you take it I have to know: Who will you become when you pass?  What do you believe in, what are you part of, what do you care about, what do you love?"
Novinha says she loves nothing and no one understands anything, lectures him through tears that he's doing his job the wrong way because anthropology was meant for humans and xenology is doomed to fail without understanding the Little Ones through their genes and evolution.  Pipo thinks she needs to be more emotional, because as Ender's Game taught us pain always causes good things, so he prods her about her isolation, and she goes from cold crying to fury:
"You'll never understand them! But I will! [....] You're a good Catholic."
Novinha is a teenager who has read a cool book and therefore understands the truth about the entire world better than everyone else on her whole planet, and suddenly I think that this is the most realistic character Card has ever written in his life.  She read The Hive Queen and the Hegemon and imagined what it must have demanded of the anonymous author to understand those aliens, and I just want everyone to keep in mind that as far as the galaxy is concerned, HQ&H is nothing more than an Alternative Character Interpretation fanfic with zero real-world evidence.  The fact that it's taken more seriously than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is itself a premise that desperately needs justification.
"I don't know about Jesus, I listen to bishop Peregrino and I don't think there's any power in their priesthood to turn wafers into flesh or forgive a milligram of guilt.  But the Speaker for the Dead brought the hive queen back to life." 
"Then where is she?" 
"In here! In me!" [....] 
"So you chose not to be part of the bands of children who group together for the sole purpose of excluding others, and people look at you and say, poor girl, she's so isolated, but you know a secret, you know who you really are.  You are the one human being who is capable of understanding the alien mind, because you are the alien mind; you know what it is to be unhuman because there's never been any human group that gave you credentials as a bona fide homo sapiens."
This is... like, the worst possible way of saying something that's actually pretty cool.  Here, let me try:  'I think you have talents for special kinds of empathy because you won't start from the same conditioning and biases the rest of us do, and your self-knowledge makes you powerful.  By the way, kids with circles of friends suck because it's really just about declaring other people not to be your friends, and personal identity is decided by group vote.'  Oh, whoops, I made the same mistakes Card did.  I guess that's trickier than it looks.

Pipo agrees that she can take the test, and while by law she must never go out to meet the Little Ones, he will give her all his notes and let her study in his lab, in exchange for her also sharing whatever she learns from her genetic research.  They immediately start bonding, especially when Pipo reveals he had the test ready for her to start at any moment, as long as he approved of her aspirations.  The narrative informs us that Novinha is being "poisonous" when she accuses him of setting himself up as "the judge of dreams", even though that is 100% accurate.  Pipo quotes 1 Corinthians 13:13, because why not, and remarks that Novinha has in turn set herself up as judge of love.
"I lost a daughter in the Descolada.  Maria.  She would have been only a few years older than you." 
"And I remind you of her?" 
"I was thinking that she would have been nothing at all like you."
Well, that, at least is the best way that exchange can go if it must go anywhere, although Pipo strongly indicates that he hopes they will grow close as family over time.  She starts the test.

Next week: SCIENCE!  Maybe?  Or some kind of horrible incident?  Maybe a horrible scientific incident?

28 comments:

  1. One thing I like about the opening to this book is that no one ever suggests that Novinha's isolation, lack of social skills, etc., could possibly be due to the fact that she has apparently been left to live completely by herself, with no adult guardian present, since the age of five. Seriously, is no one taking care of this girl? And they sit around wondering why she rejects the community?

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  2. Yeah, she first asserts that she has no legal guardian, then Pipo corrects her and says the mayor has been her legal guardian since she was five, which seems like something she'd acknowledge if the mayor were acting as her actual new parent. Where the hell has she been living?

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  3. "Three thousand years into the future and scientific disciplines are 'the family business' and you only ever bother having one at a time because I guess there isn't enough demand for science to need two?"



    If the colony is implausibly tiny -- and all evidence points to 3000-odd people, indeed -- then it is thoroughly unsurprising that they are so short of specialists that if someone decides to do what Daddy did he'll be the *only* specialist in that area in the colony.


    Which is, on planet Earth, an excellent way to lose all your technology really quite fast (look what happened to, IIRC, the Tasmanians: went from canoes to *nothing*, even losing fire). But maybe their galactic Internet helps? (It would have to. Charlie Stross has estimated that on the order of a hundred million people would be needed to maintain present levels of technology. No SF has colony fleets of a hundred million at a time... though that would explain Single-Culture Planets -- the entire population of bankrupt states like Portugal, or annoying breakaway regions like the Basque region or Texas or whatever just got loaded onto a huge ship and sent off to some planet en masse... but no, this series has nothing like that.)


    3000-person colonies are, of course, completely implausible as a way to reduce population. Let's ship a ship out with 3000 people on board! Before a quarter of an hour has passed, long before everyone has even boarded let alone before the ship has broken orbit, the population growth curve has made up the loss again... but Card needed a small colony for the story to work, so a small colony we get.

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  4. Has anyone else noticed how all the characters in the first two books talk the same way? All the children have the same way of talking to adults, all the adults have the same way of talking to each other and to children. He really seems incapable of imagining people with different personalities beyond the two or three types he uses over and over; the idea that different people would have different ways of expressing themselves seems to be completely beyond him.

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  5. Presumably, Starways Congress originally planned a much larger colony – but it had to be limited to a single town after the discovery of intelligent inhabitants. (I don’t believe we ever get a population figure, but three thousand sounds like the right ballpark.)

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  6. No SF has colony fleets of a hundred million at a time... though that would explain Single-Culture Planets -- the entire population of bankrupt states like Portugal, or annoying breakaway regions like the Basque region or Texas or whatever just got loaded onto a huge ship and sent off to some planet en masse... but no, this series has nothing like that.)

    Plenty of 'em do. The thing about the city-sized spaceships that inevitably show up is that they can carry a city's worth of people and infrastructure, or more. And if you aren't particularly concerned about comfort - either because you have fast ships, some sort of stasis system, or you just don't care, you can get crazy densities. At 'modern airplane' densities, a 1000 by 300 by 300 meter ship can carry 150 million people. At 'slave ship' densities, it can carry *billions*.

    3000-person colonies are, of course, completely implausible as a way to reduce population.
    Not to mention they're too small to be genetically stable...

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  7. If her parents were so admired to the point of being literally canonized, I would think her well-being would be a major priority of the colony, and the line of potential foster parents would go around the block at least once.

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  8. That's the impression I got when I read it, too, only it doesn't make sense. It takes decades of realtime to get a ship there -- you don't start out by sending a small colony and then send a huge one unless you *already suspect* that something is wrong that might kill off the first lot of inhabitants.


    Did Starways Congress know about the descolada? :)


    (Well, OK, I guess you might have been testing for something wrong, but it seems more effective to send a small survey mission, then the full colony five or ten years behind. If the survey fails you can always turn the full colony around. Only this *is* the full colony, this *postdates* the briefly-mentioned survey, so that doesn't work either.)

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  9. It makes even less sense because there are so few human beings on Lusitania — you would think that children would still be valuable commodities if only in terms of their usefulness when it comes to doing odd jobs. Card spends book after book pounding away at how important large families are in an environment like this but here he has a kid rattling around loose for years because nobody's willing to take her in.

    Hunh?

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  10. She read The Hive Queen and the Hegemon and imagined what it must have demanded of the anonymous author to understand those aliens, and I just want everyone to keep in mind that as far as the galaxy is concerned,HQ&H is nothing more than an Alternative Character Interpretation fanfic with zero real-world evidence. The fact that it's taken more seriously than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is itself a premise that desperately needs justification.


    It's far more plausible than Ender, in the previous novel, convincing his publisher to publish that book under the equivalent of a Creative Commons license. "It'll be fine, just give it a really nice cover or something and they'll buy it from you instead of anyone else." Uh huh. It's also more plausible that nobody ever leaks who the anonymous author is the second sales for The Hive Queen start to flag.


    That said ... I can see The Hive Queen and the Hegemon striking a chord for people like Novinha -- any alienated teenager, really. They'd embrace it for its emotional truth. On the other hand, I don't see humanity coming together as one and going, "Yep, this is who the Bug-- uh, the Formics really were, and this is what really, literally happened, and Ender sucks now."

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  11. Yeah, the idea that this book would be THE universal religious text for humans never felt right to me, and the more I think about how humanity's expansion was pretty much given a huge boost with the destruction of the Formics, the less likely it seems to me that people later would be filled with such guilt and remorse, such a sense that what Ender did was a terrible thing. There would always have been alternate views of the "Bugger Wars" and the destruction of the Hive Queen's planet, and I don't see any real reason why this one particular vision would have won the war of ideas.



    I'm jumping ahead a little, because I have read this book in its entirety, but I'm thinking the whole notion that everybody now believes in the goodness of the Formics and the horribleness of Ender is part and parcel of Card's ongoing efforts to make Ender into the lone, unappreciated genius who has to suffer to save the universe.

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  12. Ender's Game would seem to have lied to us, having claimed that HQ&H is 'the only scripture that matters' and the only religion in space, whereas Pipo has now informed us that it's on the index of books Catholics are forbidden to read and Catholicism is still alive and well, as are presumably thousands of other religions.

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  13. I think that the book as THE religious text is more of Card kissing the ass of Ender Wiggins, Greatest Wonder Boy in the History of the Universe. After being stupendously brilliant in every other way, he writes the greatest religious text in the universe, too! And he does it all without any training!

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  14. And if she's been rattling around loose, despite the staggering unlikelihoods we've already discussed, it seems to me she's got a legitimate beef with the colony. Yet here she is, applying her genius to becoming a sorely needed xenobiologist and plugging a dangerous gap in the colony. Maybe she learned the Ender Wiggins rebellion technique from his book. You know, "Rebel and show you hate them by doing exactly what they want."

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  15. According to this, Milagre had 15,000 people at the time of Xenocide, which takes place several decades after Speaker. Of course, the population might have increased in that interval, especially if Lusitania is a colony of strict Catholics who use no contraception. But that raises another problem: if they had such large families, how did they avoid a disastrous population boom, when they were confined to a single location?

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  16. "...and the more I think about how humanity's expansion was pretty much given a huge boost with the destruction of the Formics, the less likely it seems to me that people later would be filled with such guilt and remorse, such a sense that what Ender did was a terrible thing..."

    If I thought OSC had an ironical bone in his body I would think he was doing a riff off this poem, but since I think he's pretty much irony-free, I'm stuck for an explanation.



    The notion that a book dedicated to self-exculpation* which is written by a suffering teenager can (and indeed will!! and indeed must!!) shake the known universe and become its single standard of value fits in with the perspective of a 15-year-old whose world has just been rocked by The Fountainhead. But it doesn't fit in with the perspective of a grown man and again I'm left at a loss.


    However, it does seem to mesh with the small-towny feel of the Lusitania colony, where so many of the colonists are Just The Bestest. ("All the children are above average.") I can testify to the fact that in small towns as in all small communities, it's easier for a person to be The Bestest at something within the parameters of that community than it would be if the same individual were part of a larger group. That's because there's less of a standard of comparison (as the proverb says, it's easier to be a big fish in a small pond). What Card does (IMO) is take that kind of comparative, small-scale facility and turn it into objective, gamechanging brilliance. The one thing is substituted for the other. And then there's the dream many people share of belonging to an exclusive and really superior society, which has provided the juice for pulp fiction galore and probably helped fuel the writing of The Book of Mormon. Galt's Gulchers and seasteaders and extropians and Mormons all seem to have that fantasy in common.

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  17. Re-reading Speaker it occurred to me for the first time how absolutely unlikely Novinha and Libo's extreme youth is.


    They're both thirteen. Libo has officially left school and will be studying with his father as an apprentice: Novinha wants to leave school and take the exams to become the colony's xenobiologist. According to Card, Novinha doesn't just pass the exams: she passes them "with a score a good deal higher than many a graduate student".


    In Scotland, because of the way the exam system was structured and the age at which kids start primary school, it was (and is, for all I know: I haven't checked recently) more than possible for a fifteen-year-old high school student to be able to enter university. It's not lawful in the UK to leave full-time education before your 16th birthday, but technically if you're at uni you're in full-time education....


    Every single university in Scotland has rules that say you have to have passed your 16th birthday before they'll admit you as a student. The exam system had a further extension that made it possible for a high school student to effectively do their first year at uni while they were still at high school. (Scottish universities do a four-year Honours degree.) No matter how bright a teenager that age is, universities don't want them as students: there may be exceptions, but in most cases, they'll do a lot better at university if they enter when they're more-or-less adult than when they're still very much children.


    In a town that's small enough that students - especially prestigious students like the only daughter of Os Venerados, the town's saints - are able to move ahead at their own pace, I can believe that Novinha is already reading university-level xenobiology at 13, and that Libo would want to be part of his father's work and his father would register him apprentice to be allowed through the fence with Pipo. But Libo would still be in school: there'd be no reason for him not to be still taking classes. Still. It sort of works.


    But, that Novinha is already better than a graduate student - that at thirteen, independently, she's already gone through all the work she would have done in three or four years at college: that's just unbelievable. She's supposed to have done it without a mentor, without any help from the school (Dona Crista says that Novinha "claims" to have been studying xenobiology "since she was a little child", meaning that Crista doesn't know).


    Really. Unbelievable, Novinha just wouldn't have time. At what point is she supposed to have started reading xenobiology: six? This isn't like Mozart being an infant prodigy of music, it's not like being a chessmaster or a mathematical genius, understanding scientific concepts and learning not merely the whats but the whys takes time.


    If both Libo and Novinha were 17 when the story on Lusitania begins (and if Novinha were to pass, but not zoom through) that would still make Novinha scarily intelligent, having accomplished the equivalent of a college degree working on her own: and it would be believable that Libo would have left school and be working on his equivalent of a college degree with Pipo as his mentor. And it would make no real difference to the basic plot: given time dilation caused by spaceflight, what's four years?


    Why was Orson Scott Card so determined Novinha had to be a child when this happened - not a young adult, but a child?

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  18. I assume Libo and Novinha start so young for two reasons--first, to make sure they're not too old when Ender finally arrives, and second, to maintain the theme of child supergeniuses from Ender's Game. The entire Ender cast, of course, is supposed to be a clutch of comprehensively-educated military geniuses by age 13, and there are various asides about Ender entering a class with older students, being dismissed as ridiculous, and then within a month or two having already surpassed the class and been removed for other placement again. Which raises much the same questions, such as 'how did he supposedly learn the entire curriculum by seeing two months' worth of it?'

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  19. Maybe Card didn't feel comfortable writing young adults. His children don't sound at all like children, but maybe he thought he was doing a better job of writing superintelligent children than he could have done with adolescents.

    But your point is a good one. It's not a matter of raw intelligence, it's a matter of how long it would take even a super-genius to absorb all the information Novinha supposedly absorbed by the time she was 13.

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  20. I also do not understand why the Hot Angry Nun giving the colony orders is a Young Woman. Surely the Hot Angry Nun giving orders should be Captain Janeway or the like.

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  21. Novinha's allowed alien plants, bugs, animals, et cetera, she's just not allowed to interact with the Little Ones at all. So she does have a substantial range of biology available to her. How a 13-year-old is supposed to master every kind of plant and animal biology on an entirely new world--this is left as an exercise for the reader.

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  22. I... oh.


    See, here I was thinking that the Little People could help her not die from poison in the first 20 minutes of her job, but I'm not a Famous Author.


    And (as you already pointed out) I really do not understand how "don't interact with the Little People" is supposed to work when you've COLONIZED THEIR PLANET WHUT.

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  23. The human town (Milagre) is apparently walled off completely at ground level and has sufficient security (or Little Ones are sufficiently agreeable) to keep any of them from ever looking inside, so all they can learn about humanity is what the xenologers tell them. No idea how the colony is supposed to feed itself or access sufficient resources (what do they use for power) given that they have to keep everything inside their walled compound, but this is again a case of leaving things vague and hoping no one cares/notices.

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  24. ARGH. That is so much fail! Does OSC say how they are eating and sustaining themselves and getting power and whatnot? That just does not compute to me.


    Like, the more I hear about this, it feels like a fantasy version of the English settlements in the Americas, but with pretending that the English didn't need SUBSTANTIAL help from the native peoples. (Because they totes did need help, and with good reason.)

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  25. It's difficult to believe with Ender, but at least he's presented as having all of the educational facilities of a school that's supposedly meant to help child geniuses learn all they need to know about military strategy, tactics, etc: and that he has been picked as the supergenius child who will have every opportunity opened up to him. (And teachers who have been told a kid is bright are more likely to foster that child's abilities; there have been a couple of very dubiously-ethical experiments that proved you can advance a kid's IQ by telling their teachers that this kid has a very high IQ.)


    But Novinha is supposed to have done all of this entirely on her own without support from the local school and teachers - by the age of 13.


    Also, "not too old" by the time Ender finally arrives is entirely dependent on the relativistic time separating Trondheim and Milagre - and that distance-in-years is entirely up to Orson Scott Card himself.

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  26. Card does try to write young adults later in Speaker and in Xenocide.

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  27. "I imagine. I imagine it feels like bathing in ice to the person
    touching her. But how does it feel to her? Cold as she is, it must
    surely burn like fire."



    I'm also calling totally Twilight on this belief that people stand around EARNESTLY trying to UNDERSTAND other people like this. I feel like I've lived a pretty usual human life, and I've never, ever, not even once, had this conversation with someone about another person.



    "I'll bet it BURNS LIKE FIRE when someone touches her COLD SOUL."



    "Whatever. Did you hear the cafeteria is still out of pizza? We should have brought more tomato seeds, this is fucking ridiculous."

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