Sunday, February 23, 2014

Speaker for the Dead, chapter eight, in which we genre shift to thriller-horror

I wondered, weeks ago, why chapter three was named for Libo instead of Novinha, and now we have the answer: Card was saving her name for this chapter.  Chapter three, of course, was the chapter in which Novinha ruined science, came up with like four terrible plans to protect her boyfriend, and then called Ender to save the day.  Presumably now, twenty-two years later, she'll have a much better showing, right?  (Just kidding; ya'll know how he do.)

(Content: domestic abuse, and if anyone can think of how the hell to summarise Ender's deal in this chapter, please make a suggestion, because it's terrifying.  Fun content: scientists who dare to follow the scientific method, those bastards.)

Speaker for the Dead: p. 123--133
Chapter Eight: Dona Ivanova

The notes this week are from Libo again, and again an excerpt from evidence used in some future trial, and also hilarious, because it turns out that the xenologers have been intentionally giving the Little Ones new knowledge since Pipo was still alive.  I almost want to call this a retcon, except I can't off-hand think of any 'Oh no we revealed things' moments that chronologically came after the acrobat incident.  Anyway, Libo is explaining to his daughter how much lying she'll have to do in her reporting as well, to avoid revealing the Prime-Directive-breaking to the other scientists:
When you watch them struggle with a question, knowing that you have the information that could easily resolve their dilemma; when you see them come very near the truth and then for lack of your information retreat from their correct conclusions and return to error--you would not be human if it didn't cause you great anguish.
(Remember, species is decided by vote.)  The one thing I like about this is how much withholding information from other scientists is cast as the exact mirror of withholding it from the Little Ones, which is the least-condescending thing that the book has yet done for them.  I mean, given Card's characterisation of Other Scientists, it's still no compliment, but it's a step up from "What's the deal with all of the not-raping?"
And for every framling scientist who is longing for the truth, there are ten petty-minded descabeçados [headless ones] who despise knowledge, who never think of an original hypothesis, whose only labor is to prey on the writings of the true scientists in order to catch tiny errors or contradictions or lapses in method.
Like, fuck peer-reviewers, am I right?  'Rigour', pah.  'Reproducible results', double-pfeh!  Science isn't about constantly re-checking and re-testing and investigating apparent contradictions in order to smelt through masses of data in order to identify the common and reliable truths of the processes of the universe!  Science is about writing things down.

And let's not forget that these xenologers on other worlds have zero ability to actually test any of their hypotheses; if they study Little Ones, literally the only thing they can do all day is re-read the reports of the xenologers of Lusitania and try to link facts together in new ways.  Once they've come up with an "original hypothesis", the only way they can test it is by checking whether it matches all existing data, and asking the Lusitanians to find a way to test it more directly.  They're all detectives who are never allowed to leave their desks, and Libo is criticising them for noticing contradictions.

Given that Card is not and has never been a scientist, and given how logic-free some of his writing has proven to be, it's hard not to read this more as an attack on critics of art (as compared to those great creators, the authors) than on insufficiently-creative scientists.

But maybe the best part is what information Pipo and Libo started sharing:
That means you can't even mention a piggy whose name is derived from cultural contamination: "Cups" would tell them that we have taught them rudimentary pottery-making.  "Calendar" and "Reaper" are obvious.  And God himself couldn't save us if they learned Arrow's name.
Yup.  That's how that's gone down.  Pipo and Libo, xenologer academics, have taught the Little Ones pottery, archery, farming, and time-keeping.  And they think it's a much better and safer idea to keep these things quiet rather than indicate that the Little Ones might have invented any of these things themselves.  In a society built mostly of secrets and places humans aren't allowed to go, they figured never mentioning that they had given the Little Ones calendars was easier than saying "Oh, and they must be trusting us more because today I overheard one of them talking about a holy day coming up and they've revealed they do in fact have a calendar after all!"

But more to the point: WHY.  The Little Ones are low-tech, but they also have no need to be otherwise.  They have no predators and they don't hunt large animals, so they have no use for archery except war--did Pipo and Libo learn/teach how to make bows so they could defend themselves better against the other tribes?  (What if the close-contact murder is actually vital to the genetic exchange in their wars?  It would be awful but also kind of perfect if they gave the Little Ones bows and arrows for combat and the entire species died out in ten years because they were killing in a non-reproductive manner.  Card would have to be on board with that; we know how he feels about non-reproductive genetic exchange.)

The Little Ones also don't have any reason to farm that we know of, so why reaping?  Agricultural revolutions completely reshape societies if they take effect at all.  And wouldn't the satellites notice if the Little Ones started farming and were able to support a much larger population?  We don't even understand their current nutritional needs and yet they adopted farming and yet they haven't done anything with it in twenty years?

This book is an amazing exercise guide for critical thinking skills.

Novinha is finishing up in her lab at the end of the day, stalling before going home, chastising herself for not being a better parent, never seeing her youngest children except when they're asleep in bed.  She thinks she should be happy Marcão is gone, thinks that "all our reasons expired four years" ago, and wonders why she never thought of leaving him, even if they couldn't get divorced.  She's still aching from the final time he beat her, three weeks ago.
The pain in her hip flared even as she thought of it.  She nodded in satisfaction.  It's no more than I deserve, and I'll be sorry when it heals.
So, Novinha is obviously horrifically emotionally and mentally damaged, in ways that are pretty normal for abuse survivors: she's internalised the idea that she deserved to be hurt (she keeps using the phrase "no worse than I deserve"), even though she hated him.  I wait to see whether she gets corrected or if Card determines that she really did 'deserve' to be hurt for her sins.  As she approaches her home (having bid a rather poetic good-bye to her plants), she sees all the lights are on and grows immediately suspicious.

Olhado is uploading/downloading memories when she arrives, and she thinks a bit about the ones she wishes she could delete and could replace, and how it's her fault, her curse, that Olhado lost his eyes instead of being "the best, the healthiest, the wholest of my children", which I hope will be explained because: what?  Olhado tells her that the Speaker has arrived, and she panics as Ela shows up with cafezinhos in the kitchen.  Olhado and Ela try to tell their mother that Ender is italicised-"good", unlike what the bishop claimed, but she takes silent pride in being unshakable, and reflects on how it's not her fault Libo is dead, since she kept her secret all those years.  She sits, and Ender, still a ninja, reaches in and is already pouring before she notices him.
"Desculpa-me,"she whispered. Forgive me. "Trouxe o senhor tantos quilômetros--" 
"We don't measure starflight in kilometers, Dona Ivanova. We measure it in years." His words were an accusation, but his voice spoke of wistfulness, even forgiveness, even consolation. I could be seduced by that voice. That voice is a liar.
Look, y'all, I'm doing my best, but I cannot speak and I can barely imagine how to turn those two sentences into an accusation while expressing wistfulness but allowing for forgiveness and offering consolation.  Like, two, maybe, and I would sound like a twit to anyone except maybe someone very emotionally damaged who was just happy I wasn't brimming with evil.

Novinha apologises for having called him away twenty-two years, and Ender just says he hasn't noticed it yet, then he springs the passive-aggression on the abuse victim he's supposedly come to help:
"For me it was only a week ago that I left my sister.  She was the only kin of mine left alive.  Her daughter wasn't born yet, and now she's probably through with college, married, perhaps with children of her own.  I'll never know her.  But I know your children, Dona Ivanova." [....] 
"In only a few hours you think you know them?" 
"Better than you do, Dona Ivanova."
Everyone gasps, though Novinha privately thinks he might be right, but more importantly how does Ender judge this?  He knows literally nothing about Dona Ivanova; he invented a bond with little Novinha and then arrived here and learned nothing about the family before coming to see them.  He has literally no evidence on which to judge how well she understands her children.  He then turns to walk out, and Novinha snaps at him to come back, but he proceeds to her bedroom, where Miro and Quim are arguing.  Novinha is startled to see Miro smiling, but it vanishes when he sees her, which stings more.  She tries to ignore it and tell Ender again to leave, saying he has no death to speak, saying that as a foolish girl she imagined the original Speaker would come and console her.
"Dona Ivanova," he said, "how could you read the Hive Queen and the Hegemon and imagine that its author could bring comfort?" 
It was Miro who answered [....] "the original Speaker for the Dead wrote the tale of the hive queen with deep compassion." 
The Speaker smiled sadly. "But he wasn't writing to the buggers, was he?  He was writing to humankind, who still celebrated the destruction of the buggers as a great victory. He wrote cruelly, to turn their pride to regret, their joy to grief."
Just a note: first the mayor wasn't shocked Ender could be two thousand years old, and now Novinha suggests that the Speaker might have lived three thousand years, and yet literally no one except Plikt (who needed four years to entertain the notion) actually considers how far into ancient times people might have come forward in this galaxy.  Speaking of scientists who lack creative thought and curiosity.

I do like this exchange as far as it can be taken as a commentary on scripture, and the changing meanings of old writing, the way people might look at something today and see a story completely different from the way it might have struck its original audience.  Again, a very weird thing to hear from the keyboard of Orson Scott Card, given that he's the worst kind of fundamentalist and bigot.

Novinha mentions the Speaker's target, Ender, a person who ruined everything he touched, and Ender snaps for a moment, "his voice whipped out like a grass-saw, ragged and cruel", to say that everyone touches something kindly and to say a person destroyed everything they touched is "a lie that can't truthfully be said of any human being who ever lived", and I am abruptly and uncomfortably aware that Marcos is going to get a post-mortem redemption arc.

Ender says that while Novinha called him first, others have called speakers since then, so it's not all on her conscience, and she wonders who else could know enough about speakers to have done so.  She's shocked to learn someone called a speaker for Marcos, that anyone would miss him, and Miro speaks up:
"Grego would, for one. The Speaker showed us what we should have known--that the boy is grieving for his father and thinks we all hate him--" 
"Cheap psychology," she snapped. "We have therapists of our own, and they aren't worth much either."
Wait, they do have therapists?  No.  Not buying it.  The last time we saw anyone with anything approaching therapeutic qualifications they were Valentine's school guidance counsellor.  The planet should have therapists, among many other things, but I just don't believe for a moment that Card's universe contains therapists.  At some point, someone would go to one.

Miro and Ela start laughing about Grego soaking Ender's pants, and Novinha has a montage of flashbacks, the joy of Miro and Ela as small children, Marcos' slow growing hatred, the way everything was ruined by the time Quim was born and he never got a happy childhood.  Marcos' rage grew "because he knew none of it belonged to him", foreshadow, clunk.  Novinha's response to this flash of cheer is of course to retreat to rage that anyone would interrupt the quiet gloom she's created, and try to throw Ender out again, though she knows the law protects his quest for TRUUUUUUTHHHHH.
"If I told nothing but what everyone already knows--that he hated his children and beat his wife and raged drunkenly from bar to bar until the constables sent him home--then I would not cause pain, would I?  I'd cause a great deal of satisfaction, because everyone would be reassured that their view of him was correct all along.  He was scum, and so it was all right that they treated him like scum. [....] No one's life is nothing.  Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins."
There's some back and forth about whether Novinha is really hating Marcos or herself, how recently Ender studied her younger self, how Pipo loved her, et cetera, but I'd rather focus on the above.  There is this cultural notion we have with empathising with the worst people.  Empathising with good people is obvious and admirable, but empathising with villains is the mark of A Great Heart.  You may notice that in that dichotomy, no one ever gets around to empathising with the middle ground.  The neutrals, the people who are just trying to get on with their day, they're not part of the consideration.  You have to be a hero or a monster before anyone cares about anyone caring.

So let me provide an advance alternative interpretation--I'm guessing it's alternative, I'm guessing this isn't what Ender is going to say, although if I'm wrong about that I will be 1) impressed and 2) irritated that my blog hasn't won the Nebula and Hugo awards.

Marcos' truth is the story of no one stopping him.  Marcos is an abuser and apparently everyone knows and no one has ever done a thing to intervene.  They know that he beats Novinha, but the police don't stop him, they know that Grego is practically feral but they don't help him, they don't try to draw Novinha--daughter of Os Venerados, sole master of shaping and reshaping life for their alien world, bringer of potato vodka--out of her abusive home and into a shelter, or haul Marcos out of his house and into a jail cell.  They do have cops, apparently, cops who will kick him out of the bars but not stop him from nearly murdering his wife.  And for two decades they have watched him grow more terrible and violent and watched him damage his family and they have done nothing, because it was easier to pretend everything was okay.  It's the same gross neglect that they inflicted on Novinha until she became xenobiologists, but extended four times as long and harming five or six children instead of one.  How's that for a truth that would make the people of Milagre uncomfortable and shake their assurances that they did the right thing by gossiping about how awful Marcos was?

But yeah, I can't wait to hear Ender explain that Marcos' had a secret kindness that redeems him.

Novinha tries again to throw Ender out of the house and yells at him in Portuguese, and we get another grammar lesson about how rude she was with her pronoun forms, and yet Ender's response in the same overly-familiar Portuguese tones was instead kind and intimate: "Thou art fertile ground, and I will plant a garden in thee".  Wait, what?  He walked into her house, got all her children on his side, told her that she's too cruel to herself and to the memory of her abusive husband, and then told her he would plant a garden in her fertile ground?!  That is the creepiest fucking thing I have read in months.

Oh, and then Quara wakes up crying and Novinha hears Ender go into her room and soothe her with a Nordic lullaby.  Forget it.  This is just a straight-up horror flick now.  Next morning he's going to be wearing Marcos' skin like a snuggie.

Novinha falls asleep, and when she wakes again in the night she hears her children gathered in the living room, Miro and Ela and Quim and Olhado, laughing together, and she dreams that Libo is among them, alive, her true husband, foreshadow, clunk.  She fears that Ender will, in repairing her family, learn her secrets and reveal them and Miro will die like Libo did, because apparently she's in denial that keeping her secret didn't protect him.  I'm not clear if Ender ever actually left the house or if he just moved in.  Regardless, that's the merciful end of this chapter.  Next week: science investigation, Ender is a jackwagon, and in a shocking twist teenage xenologers make bad decisions.


  1. Marcos' truth is the story of no one stopping him.

    That's a large part of Marcos's story, yes, but it's the villagers' truth. Maybe that'll get spoken if one of them dies.

    Probably not, though.

  2. *shudder* And this is supposed to be the best book in the series? This abominable piece of abuse apologia?

  3. Didn't Ender leave before Valentine's baby was born because it would have been Just Too Hard to leave after it was born? And yet here he's using that fact to beat Novinha over the head with.
    To be fair about the therapists, she does say they're not worth much. Maybe the most important difference between Card's universe and our universe is just how crappy the therapists are.

  4. I'm still waiting to see evidence of his great compassion, his empathy. He sure doesn't show any for Novinha in this chapter.

  5. Yes, much precious knowledge was lost in the great Psychologist's War of 5419.

  6. Ender's empathy is much too great to be wasted on puny individual organisms. It must be carefully hoarded in case he ever runs into anything big enough to use it on.

  7. Admittedly, I'm not reading the book, just the reviews, but "The Villagers" do indeed seem to be a character, entire of themselves. The narrative revolved around Pipo, Libo, and Novinha's work and perspectives and the mystery of the Little Ones, and the villagers just seem to be there because Card didn't think a small outpost of sciencey-types was plausible? He doesn't seem to have anything for them to *do*. They get saved by Novinha's parents, they ignore her, they ignore her familial troubles and domestic abuse, they ignore or disdain her kids and Ender. I mean, why are they even *in* this novel, other than to fail at doing *anything*. They're like a Greek Chorus without the Choral Interludes.

  8. Read Card's LOST BOYS for clues about Card's view of therapists. If the therapist character in LOST BOYS is any indication, a session might go something like this:

    Grego: "Ever since Jesus took Papa away, everyone talks bad about him. I guess that means they hate me too, since I loved him."

    Therapist: "Jesus isn't real! Your anger and your violent behavior stem from the insistence of authority figures that you believe in God when you are too smart to do so. I mean, obviously."

  9. Hey, if the cops or "the villagers" tried to act, that would be like the government intervening. We know that's wrong. Only the church can save damaged kids by giving them a proper Daddy figure, to know what's best for them and take control of them.

  10. I don't think the two can be separated. Ender is arguing that there is no such thing as a purely evil being. (I would be curious to see what he'd make of Achilles from the Shadow series.) Marcos can't be excised from his community any more than he can be from his family, and as an economist I can't help but think in terms of opportunity cost, which is to say: we know what Marcos did, and what he was not allowed to do, but what else might he have done if he hadn't been allowed to be his worst? If it's true that he had some mote of kindness in him that Ender thinks is such a big deal, how can they not ask what he might have been if that mote had been prized and nurtured and his malice had been curtailed? Every interaction involves more than one person, and I don't see any compelling reason yet why the speaker should only care about those in which the dead man was the actor instead of acted-upon. If Ender's job is to illuminate the intent behind the actions, then we have to ask what other actions could have expressed that intent. I know Card loves talking about people in isolation, but that isolation is always created by other people, which means it's not really 'isolation' at all, but a few powerful people making sure they're the only ones who can reach the 'isolated' person. (Ender's whole war, the whole intent-defines-the-meaning-of-actions thing, is about this meddling-isolation thing. Ender's Game is about what Ender did because people were pushing and controlling him; the Ribeira house is about what Marcos did because no one stepped in.)

  11. All excellent points. In the real world, the two cannot be separated.

    I think my sticking point is that, in an Enderverse where intention trumps all, other people's actions only matter when they change the actor's intentions. So if Marcos is abusive because the community was cruel to him when he was growing up, that counts. If Marcos is abusive because the community didn't stop him, so what? If the community had stopped his behavior without changing his attitude, then your speaker-for-hire will still judge him to be an asshole in this regard.

    Stupid, yes, but consistent with the moral framework that Card has established.

    If it's true that he had some mote of kindness in him that Ender thinks is such a big deal, how can they not ask what he might have been if that mote had been prized and nurtured and his malice had been curtailed?

    Total agreement here. I don't even remember if this is addressed, so I'll find out when you do. I am not particularly hopeful. :D

  12. Wait, wasn't there a detail last chapter that Novinka was working on potatoes because the current distilled drinks weren't considered very good? So what exactly was Marcos drinking in all those bars? And bars, plural? In a community of 4,000 people?

  13. I wondered about that myself, but they did mention that the other plants (like the amaranth) can be turned to booze; it's just not very good. So they're telling stories about how magnificent vodka is (I could be wrong, but I'm 80% sure that no one on this planet has ever tasted vodka) in order to distract themselves from the rubbish booze they've got now.

  14. It's been some years since I read Speaker, but as I recollect, Marcos's story turns out to be mostly more abuse apology. I.e., (without spoiling it) once you fully appreciate his personal hardships AND what Novinha did to him, you'll realize that he's a good man pushed past his breaking point.

  15. That's about what I figured. Goggles on, folks; this is gonna suck.

  16. You know, the deeper we get into this, the more Card's concept of "truth" as defined by Super-Speaker Ender is getting me really irritated. First, isn't this the same Ender who sighed about the Calvinist tendencies of student thinkers on his last world? And yet somehow there *is* an objective truth about people which they are too self-absorbed to see, but that he can grasp without ever meeting the person (abuser) in question? And why is *Marcos'* truth so much more important than Novinha's? Poor Marcos, his wife *lied to him*! How else was he supposed to deal with that except by hitting her? I mean, she's a *liar*! The only lies we know Novinha to be guilt of were made to *protect* people she loved, not to hurt them to protect herself from emotional pain. But that "truth" isn't important, because she's a woman, I guess.

  17. Aashyma Never WouldFebruary 24, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Wait, Marcos used to beat Novinha so badly that she's still in pain three weeks later? What, were local authorities waiting for him to kill her before stepping in?

  18. "Whereas Ender literally describes Novinha as dirt, useful only to grow things in."

    I wouldn't take it quite that literally, but it's still patronizing as all hell. How did Novinha respond to this? Probably not by saying, "Wow, that's patronizing as all hell," which is a shame.

  19. Waitwaitwait, Novinha's husband was an abusive alcoholic and her major project of the moment is engineering a plant to grow and distill a *better* booze than they currently have? There is not enough Whatnapple in the world to express my feelings about that. Maybe she was planning to let Marcos drink himself to death with a higher distillation of alcohol than he was used to?

  20. …and now we have another reason why technological progress has been at a standstill in this universe for the last three thousand years. I’m pretty sure that when you prefer to ignore “tiny errors or contradictions or lapses in method,” a lot of your starships end up exploding unexpectedly.

    That does explain a lot.

  21. I think maybe they really want potatoes and it's just those low-class miners who have started obsessing over the potential for vodka, but it's a major WTF regardless.

  22. As to how many bars Lusitania needs, I am not a drinker, but if I had to live on Lusitania I believe I would reconsider that.

  23. Actually, I meant not that Ender was speaking literally, but that I am speaking literally when I claim that Ender said that. In other words, Ender actually did describe her as dirt, but yes, I agree that it was a metaphor. :) I don't think he was threatening to mulch her corpse. Hopefully.

  24. It sounds more like a sexual metaphor than a murder metaphor, which is better, but still gross. :)

  25. Yeah... I read that as "I am going to impregnate you", which is totally the thing an abused woman (or any woman) wants to hear from a strange man who broke into her house, manhandled her children and refuses to leave.

    Ender Wiggin: master of empathy!

  26. She’s angry at him because he was a shitty violent husband, not because he was Satan.
    But did you learn nothing about the Enderverse, from Peter? Everybody either cannot be blamed for their actions at all (because they surely meant well), or actually is Satan. Ender is so special and magical and empathetic because he managed to understand that his personal bugbear wasn't Satan (...after his death), so clearly nobody else could have managed this distinction without his help!

  27. "Science is about writing things down."
    No, no, no. In Card's universe, science is for feeling superior to other people.

  28. Apparently they're also psychic enough to rule out the possibility that the xenologers haven't provided definitions of any of these words, and that the Little Ones just chose them as nicknames because they like the sound, or because they suspect that they might mean something really cool.

  29. Well, the last time I lived in a shitty little town that suffered from deep isolation the bar/person ration was approximately 2 per thousand*. So if our esteemed host's estimate of 3000 people is right, then Lusitania should have 6-7 bars.

    *16,000 people, 30-something bars.

  30. Yeah, it sounded like a flat out rape threat. Do. Not. Want.

  31. I'm enjoying this deconstruction of SFtD as much as I enjoyed the one for EG, but I have to take exception to your comment "Church of Latter-Day Haters".

    The way it was worded suggests that LDS people are all bigoted reactionaries. I'll agree that OSC isn't the poster boy for inclusiveness and toleration, but LDS people run the gamut of the human experience: some good, some bad, most a mixture of the two.

    I'm not LDS myself, but you shouldn't tar a large group with the same brush.

  32. That's fair--my aim was not to attack LDS themselves, but to suggest that "Latter-Day Haters" would be a much more appropriate group for Card to belong to. On a reread, that really doesn't come across at all, and I'll edit accordingly.

  33. I do not see why it would not be easier for the xenologists just to lie about what names the Little Ones have, or perhaps claim they're nicknames the xenologists gave them. Or did they just pick the option most likely to screw up science forever?

  34. I think it'd be more interesting if it turned out that Marcos killed Libo, and maybe Pipo too (he would have been young then, but probably still big and strong enough to overpower a weedy xenologer), and tried to frame the Little Ones for it. The other xenologers and the Little Ones were his main competitors for Novinha's emotional attention, so it would make sense if a jealous and obsessive Marcos decided to target them all.

    (He would have to get past the fence, but there are various ways he could manage that--and as a crazy strong guy who endures chronic pain and numbs himself with alcohol, he might be able to just hop it.)

  35. Ender is so special and magical and empathetic because he managed to understand that his personal bugbear wasn't Satan (...after his death)

    Which becomes even more hilarious in a subsequent book, when Peter is sortakinda resurrected and Ender's like "OK, but this version of Peter is Satan, right? One of them has to be absolute evil, dammit!"

  36. Yeah, I'm probably just underestimating it because 3000 people was about the size of my high school. If lots of people are getting wasted, it's probably "better" to have a bar within a few blocks of anyone's house.

  37. An abused woman who's been introverted and antisocial since childhood, and whose husband just died a couple of months ago, and whose old flame was murdered a few years ago and she's obviously still not over that.

    Novinha doesn't exactly seem prepared to jump back into the dating game, you know? Even if Ender was a trusted and familiar friend, as opposed to a creepy, strongly-disliked, children-manhandling home invader.

  38. They're playing Dwarf Fortress on Lusitania!

  39. If you think of the Speakers for the Dead as some kind of priests/spiritual advisors, isn't it doubly creepy to have someone you called in that capacity to come to you and hit on you? Even if he's doing it in pseudo Biblical language, and even if it isn't meant to sound like a rape threat (which it does), the fact is, you have someone who's ostensibly there as a priest or equivalent, and one of the first things he says is that he's going to impregnate her. One of the first things that's not critical/passive-aggressive, that is. Oh, Ender, what a guy! How many different ways can he be an asshole?

  40. That would be a much more interesting book than this one.

  41. You know, that makes much more sense than the actual book, and at least there's the possibility of everyone dying by lava.

  42. So, wait, I'm supposed to believe the incompetence of the scientists here is because they are phat kid a conspiracy to convert up that they've been violating the Prime Directive (or whatever passes for that here in the Enderverse). Which would entail making sure that only xenologists go outside, which the fence can help, but that requires the involvement of the civic government of Lusitania, who have been conspicuously absent to this point. It also requires no Katniss Everdeen in the colony, who goes outside for curiosity or supplementary food. The village is painted as people who are so uninterested in each other that they will let someone drink and abuse their family (no, wait, that is plausible), but Lusitania seems designed more like an internment camp, or perhaps, Botany Bay. It doesn't run right that this colony is so... boring.

    Also, the is the curious lack of technology here again. Probes, instruments, robots, all of these things should be in use for the scientists and the villagers. Plenty of ansible-connected entertainment devices, but no technology apparently for doing work. I almost wonder if this is spared to be a bad parody of Space Amish, with as little tech in use in this universe.

  43. Fairly badly, too. I think my 13-year-old runs a much more sensible Dwarf Fortress. Aside from the random mass killings because he thinks they're hilarious, of course.

  44. Aashyma Never WouldFebruary 28, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    "And for every framling scientist who is longing for the truth, there are ten petty-minded descabeçados [headless ones] who despise knowledge, who never think of an original hypothesis, whose only labor is to prey on the writings of the true scientists in order to catch tiny errors or contradictions or lapses in method."

    Oh, tiny errors like say,

    "We don't measure starflight in kilometers, Dona Ivanova. We measure it in years."

  45. Ender can make the Kessel Run in less than eight firkins.

  46. Isn't a firkin a measure of alcohol?

  47. I think the lack of a Katniss-type is explained as fear. The people are scared they'll get murdered and spread out for trees too. There's also that I don't think the people have been able to eat any of the naturally occurring life on the planet. I can see a government feeding those fears and making everyone very aware of the non-edible stuff on the sly to make people uninterested in leaving, the same way governments now feed fears of different race or nationality.

  48. He makes the Kessel Rum in less than eight firkins

  49. Fear to the point that we don't even have day-trippers that pack their lunch, skip outside, and then come back for dinner with the xenologers? The propaganda must be really good. I'm still skeptical, though, that everyone just huddles inside the town walls, afraid of everything outside the walls, especially with ansible things and satellites. If we can come up with drones that can fly high and still provide targeting, surely there is something else the Lusitania colony has that can be used to spy on the Little Ones and the xenologers.

  50. Yep. I don't say it makes sense, just that it's the explanation I remember being there.
    I get a feeling that the colony people are so boring because Card thinks that most people just -are- that boring. Looking at his presentation of people who aren't super genius babies and thinking back to his intro to Game, I'm really getting a feeling that he thinks people are either hyper-competent super-humans or inane, mindless drones (with a special class of almost-competent but not quite good enough without a leader).

  51. Right. And then those almosts are always mysteriously women or people of color, just shy of the Straight White Cismale Savior. I don't think I've seen a competent woman character who isn't second-fiddled.

  52. Spoiler: Qb Raqre naq Abivaun npghnyyl unir nal puvyqera gbtrgure? V qba’g unir n pbcl bs Krabpvqr unaql naq unira’g ernq vg sbe gjragl lrnef be fb, ohg V qba’g erzrzore gurve zneevntr npghnyyl erfhygvat va puvyqera.

  53. Eight firkins is not nearly enough Kessel Rum to make this book acceptable.

  54. If any of this speculation is true then it proves that Ender takes after the Catholic and not the Mormon side of his heritage. He drinks.

  55. "Pottery has to be fired, which a) raises the risk of forest fires, and b) requires at least some slow-burning fuel like wood or manure. That doesn’t seem like it would be super-suitable for a people who have no livestock and consider every tree to be massively precious and sacred."

    Good point, but it sounds like Lusitania is hot and sunny. So if the pequeninos make any pottery, maybe they can sun-fire it. "Yes, but they live in the woods." But, maybe if they have any clearings, they could sun-fire their pottery in those.

  56. Hey, that could work. Although they're apparently making cups, and sun-fired pottery doesn't work that well for holding liquids...but maybe they're just decorative.

  57. I know, RIGHT?!?!?! GRAAAH!