Sunday, February 9, 2014

Speaker for the Dead, chapter six, part two, in which subtitles are misused

(Content: actually this one is pretty okay? Fun content: xkcd and aliens and phrasing and fruit.)

This is not a fascinating chunk of book.  This is Orson Scott Card making sure everyone knows he has a rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese and it's super-authentic.  I will do what I can for you.

Speaker for the Dead: p. 97--107

Ender settles into his room in one of the original colony's plastic shacks and stows the Hive Queen under his bed, wrapped in towels.  After all, he's just a detective in town to investigate three suspicious deaths and the religious leaders of the planet have been telling everyone not to trust him or anything he says, so I can't imagine why he'd want to take any kind of security precautions.  It occurs to me that, in addition to everyone assuming he Little Ones collectively murdered Pipo (and now Libo), rather than it being the work of a lone pequenino-Jack-the-Ripper, no one seems to think for even a moment that Pipo might have been killed by a human who knew that if Pipo died in the forest everyone would assume it was aliens.

Was there a police investigation of his death?  Does Lusitania even have police?  Is it a crimeless utopia?  Come on, we have to have something to show for the last three thousand years of existence.

The Hive Queen remains 100% totes certain that Lusitania will be her new home, although she hasn't actually told Ender why.  She's barely talking to Ender at all, and she launches into a somewhat poetic run-on sentence explaining that it's so hard to talk to humans but the philotic mind she's found on Lusitania--one of many, she says--is so much easier to connect with, and so with apologies she withdraws:
<...Forgive us, dear friend, forgive us if we leave the hard work of talking to your mind and go back to him and talk to him because he doesn't make us search so hard to make words and pictures that are clear enough for your analytical mind because we feel him like sunshine, like the warmth of sunshine on his face on our face and the feel of cool water deep in our abdomen and movement as gentle and thorough as soft wind which we haven't felt for three thousand years forgive us we'll be with him...>
Huh, that's exactly how my first girlfriend broke up with me.  It's okay, Ender.  The spontaneously manifest consciousness of the internet still loves you.

I can't blame the Hive Queen for closing off "until you wake us until you take us out to dwell here", because the only thing worse than sharing thoughts with Ender for ten years would be sharing thoughts with Ender for three thousand time-dilated years.  Boy could take a decade just thinking about how hard it is being the only person in the room who actually thinks of everyone else in the room as real people.

Ender is left thinking about how he's going to have to deal with the church and the xenologers and twenty-two years of buyer's remorse from the xenobiologist who summoned him, and his longer-term discomfort with the idea that, if the Hive Queen does settle here, he will have to do the same.  He recognises that he's avoided really connecting with anyone but Valentine in about twenty-five years, and the thought of being a permanent citizen is daunting.
"I can hear your heartrate falling and your breathing getting heavy.  In a moment you'll either be asleep, dead, or lacrimose." 
"I'm much more complex than that," said Ender cheerfully. "Anticipated self-pity is what I'm feeling, about pains that haven't even arrived." 
"Very good, Ender.  Get an early start.  That way you can wallow so much longer."
Wow, even Card has realised how excessive this is.  Do we have hope of a change?  Ah, but no, the whole point of that exchange is that awareness of something doesn't translate at all into resistance to it.  Petra even says as much in Shadow of the Hegemon, when she talks about an incredibly clichéd play that nevertheless moved her to tears as she dissected its tropes.  (That's not a link to TVtropes.  That's a link to the actual definition of 'trope', which is the only one I actually use, because I am a colossal hipster and I own nine bowties.)

Ender asks Jane for a map of the colony and she says they don't have one because everyone knows where everything is, which is just fantastic.  No cops, no city planning, population of like 5000 people constantly growing but with an absolute limit on the space they're allowed to remain within, and no one keeps a map. Awesome. They do, however, keep a map of the sewer system, from which Jane extrapolates the buildings.  She projects this into Ender's room, because his shack is totally sweet and has a holographic terminal "sixteen times larger than most terminals, with a resolution four times greater".  I hope that becomes plot relevant, or else Card just randomly decided that Ender deserved a widescreen space TV.

The colony cuts off at the fence, where there's an electromagnetic field to keep anyone from crossing over.  It causes incredible pain if you touch it, but Jane doesn't say it actually creates force, so I'm wondering if someone sufficiently determined couldn't just leap through and bear the hurt for a second.  Agony fields make terrible walls.  Ender talks about whether the humans are trapped within or the Little Ones are trapped out there, separated from the rest of the universe.  Jane wins:
"It's the most charming thing about humans.  You are all so sure that the lesser animals are bleeding with envy because they didn't have the good fortune to be born homo sapiens."
But unfortunately there's no further exchange on this subject and I am left wondering again how Card can write things like that and then go on to write things like everything else he writes.

Jane explains that the only settlement the humans have contact with is about a kilometre inside the nearest forest (where all the males live inside a log house), and satellites (they do exist!) have confirmed that just about every forest on the planet contains its maximum sustainable population of Little Ones.  On request, she zooms in to show Ender the space where Pipo and Libo died, which now has three trees nearby--the ones that grew out of Rooter and two more Little Ones found dead in the same manner since then.  The leading hypothesis is that trees are named for the dead and humans aren't part of the tree religion, therefore we don't get trees named for us.  I figure there's zero chance the trees aren't made of people; my only question is whether the Little Ones are larval trees or if they get trees planted in them to absorb their minds at time of death.
"Except that I've found that rituals and myths don't come from nowhere.  There's usually some reason for it that's tied to the survival of the community."
Oh, good, Ender knows the fundamental principle of every skeptical detective who doesn't yet know that they're going to discover some mundane ritual secretly has actual supernatural (or superscientific) significance.
"Andrew Wiggin, anthropologist?" 
"The proper study of mankind is man." 
"Go study some men, then, Ender."
PHRASING; BOOM!  (Don't forget Jane is the internet--she is partly composed of all that Ender/Alai fanfic that Ender obviously wrote as a teenager and posted anonymously to AO3 where it formed a lesser-known religion, Speaker for the Queer, which centres on very empathetic people helping others understand the truth about their orientation and identity after someone tells them that heterocis is the only normal.)

Tragically, it turns out that what Jane actually means is that she thinks he should go meet the Ribeiras (Novinha's family).  The computer network has been coded to deny Ender information on where anyone lives, but Jane being Jane, she's already hacked that--they live in a relatively isolated house behind the observatory hill, because apparently there's an observatory hill.  Ender says he'll need to find a guide anyway, to avoid giving away that their computer security is as dust and ash to him.  He and Jane have a weird conversation about how she's got all the power and she wants to make sure he does what's in her best interests.  I can't figure out what brought that on, given that her only "vested interest" here is that Ender doesn't screw up his redeemer-of-the-alien-monsters shtick.  Ender asks for a promise:
"When you decide to hide something from me, will you at least tell me that you aren't going to tell me?" 
"This is getting way too deep for little old me." She was a caricature of an overfeminine woman.
Earlier she encouraged Ender to cheer himself up by getting more exercise, while projecting herself in the form of a Little One in the middle of a chorus line of "leggy women".  I don't know what the fuck Jane's deal is supposed to be, but so far she's mostly composed of plot convenience and stereotypes of Wrong Femininity (the use of sexuality and deception for personal benefit) and I have the feeling I'm not supposed to like her nearly as much as I do.  The final book in Timothy Zahn's Conquerors Trilogy has a brilliant AI as one of the viewpoint characters, and I feel like that kind of story (sneaking around inside data networks the way spies sneak through air ducts) could be awesome with Jane in the lead.

Ender finally heads out to the praça, where kids are playing football.  Most of them are just showing off, but a boy and girl are duelling, standing three metres apart and kicking as hard as they can at each other without flinching.  Ender asks people to show him to the Ribeira house and the kids steadily drift away until only the duelling duo are left, plus the little girl who fetches the ball for them, and another boy with electronic eyes.
Only one eye was used for sight, but it took four separate visual scans and then separated the signals to feed simulated binocular vision to the brain.
I'm like 70% sure that doesn't make sense.
The other eye contained the power supply, the computer control, and the external interface.  When he wanted to, he could record short sequences of vision in a limited photo memory, probably less than a trillion bits.
By my math, that's about 100 gigs, so... several hours of moderate-quality video, no?  I have the 90-minute Sherlock premiere on my computer in 720p HD and it's 1.6 gigs.  This is why Star Trek TNG started referring to data in 'isoquads', because it sounds big and technical but no one will ever be like 'I can fit that on a sticky note'.

The girl kicks a crotch-shot at the boy, who winces in pain, but she says he twisted to deflect, and he insists he did not.
"Reveja!  Reveja!"  They had been speaking Star, but the girl now switched into Portuguese. 
The boy with metal eyes showed no expression, but raised a hand to silence them.  "Mudou," he said with finality.  He moved, Ender translated. 
"Sabia!"  I knew it!
And it goes on like this.  Half the dialogue over the next few pages is made up of short phrases of Portuguese and then the narrative giving us the English translation.  And then when they notice Ender:
"Porque está olhando-nos?" asked the boy.  Why are you looking at us? 
Ender answered with a question. "Você é árbitro?" You're the artiber here? The word could mean "umpire," but it could also mean "magistrate."
Aside from me loving the idea that Ender is actually terrible at Portuguese and sounds ridiculous to them (yes, my copy says 'artiber' instead of 'arbiter', which I choose to take as a translation of his incomprehensible accent), I'm just boggled that we've paused the soap opera murder investigation in space for a Portuguese vocabulary lesson.  And then gratuitous Space Vocabulary when Ender calls himself a stranger:
"Stranger?  You mean utlanning, framling, or raman?" 
"No, I think I mean infidel."
I know it's important for Ender to be all dangerous and sassy to get Olhado to like him, but that question made no sense.  Lusitania has no utlannings; everyone's from the same village.  Humans by definition can't be raman to another human.  The only possible answer was framling, and the only possible reason to ask that question was to remind everyone that Card invented some words.

Ender wins over Olhado, who finally reveals that people call him Olhado, but his real name is Lauro Suleimão Ribeira, and the littlest girl is Quara.  Jane adds his bio in Ender's ear: he's 12, the fourth child, lost his eyes "in a laser accident", those are seriously her exact words, what the hell does anyone use lasers for on this world, and notes that the first significant thing she has managed to uncover about the family is that they are apparently willing to defy the bishop.  Ender silently notes that Olhado enjoyed deceiving Ender and enjoyed revealing the surprise even more--he hopes that Jane doesn't follow that example, and I'm back to wondering if maybe it wouldn't be easier to make Jane seem sinister by actually having her do something morally suspect, rather than just constantly giving her the side-eye until it seems natural.

Outside the village, Miro (Novinha's eldest son, the xenologer apprentice, you remember him) is on a hillside in the shade of some trees, looking down into the village.  ...Wait.  Wait what.  There's a fence and an Agony Field and laws saying not to let the Little Ones see any human technology and no one but the xenologer is allowed to leave the perimeter and there's a hill where you can just secretly look down over the fence and see most of Milagre WHAT.

There's also a Little One there with him.  More translation, this time fractionally more interesting:
"Miro," whispered Leaf-eater.  "Are you a tree?" 
It was a translation from the pequeninos' idiom.  Sometimes they meditated, holding themselves motionless for hours.  They called this "being a tree." [....] 
"Is it going to rain?" asked Miro.  To a piggy this meant: are you interrupting me for my own sake, or for yours? 
"It rained fire today," said Leaf-eater. "Out in the prairie."
They can see the shuttles.  THEY CAN SEE THE SHUTTLES.



Leaf-eater is desperate to meet the Speaker for the Dead, and begs Miro to bring him as soon as possible: "I root my face in the ground for you, Miro, my limbs are lumber for your house."  Yeah, they are definitely trees.  Miro says he needs to learn if the speaker can be trusted first, and reflects that the Little Ones never seem to understand the idea of 'stranger' or 'malice'.  While this confuses and frustrates him, he doesn't seem to think it has any particular contradiction with their constant inter-forest wars.  God, these scientists are awful.

Miro tries to make a pun by telling Leaf-eater to "vai comer folhas", "go eat leaves", but Leaf-eater is just confused and calls him crude when Miro explains the joke, proving at least that the aliens have an actual sense of humour.  Miro thinks that Leaf-eater always seems hostile, and he'd rather hang out with the one called Human, even though Human is smarter "and Miro had to watch himself more carefully with him".  This also makes no sense to me, since Miro appears to have gone the full interventionist route by telling the Little Ones about interstellar civilisation and Speakers and shuttles.  What's he got to watch?

He spots Olhado carrying Quara home, and then sees they're followed by a strange man, who he realises has to be the speaker, and sprints down to intercept.  Next week: Card goes full soap opera, Ender goes social worker, and everything is terrible.


  1. every forest on the planet contains its maximum sustainable population of Little Ones

    Wait, how do they know that? They don't know what the Little Ones eat / how they get sufficient nourishment; they don't know how they reproduce; they don't understand their interactions with other population groups; how could they possibly determine what the maximum sustainable population is?

    And how did they get those satellites up there in the first place? Have they just been launching satellites since they landed, without any regard for whether the Little Ones see the launch? And I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that nobody ever suggests that it might be illegal or dangerous to let the Hive Queen telepathically (wait, I'm sorry, "philotically") communicate with what I assume are the female tree-Little Ones. I can just imagine how that conversation goes.

    "Hey I noticed you were here and thought I'd say hi. I'm your new neighbor!"
    "Wait, what? Who are you? Where did you come from?"
    "Oh I'm the last of a star-faring species that were wiped out by the humans, and I figured I'd take over your planet to repopulate despite not having anyone to breed with."
    "I guess we don't have to worry about your breeding program then. Wait, 'wiped out'? By humans? Humans are the ugly bald ape-things, right?"
    "Yeah, you've got a bunch of them here! But don't worry, they feel just awful about what they did to my kind. And besides, that was thousands of years ago and they only managed that because of one super-genius wunderkind they had."
    "Oh, so we don't have to worry, 'cause that kid is long dead, right?"
    "Actually, he came here with me!"
    "...will you excuse us for a second?"

  2. It causes incredible pain if you touch it, but Jane doesn't say it actually creates force, so I'm wondering if someone sufficiently determined couldn't just leap through and bear the hurt for a second.We learn later that if you try that, the field causes permanent nerve and brain damage.

  3. if the Hive Queen does settle here, he will have to do the same.

    Wat? Why does he have to settle where she does? It strikes me that the bigger problem is that there will then be three sapient species vying for resources on a planet that is definitely not suited to at least one of them. Time for the humans to move out, guys. Oh, wait, that would be logical. Can't have that.

    They do, however, keep a map of the sewer system, from which Jane extrapolates the buildings.

    Oh for fucking what. What good would a map of the sewer system without the buildings be to the people who live there? Do they just have separate maps of the sewers and electrical lines and whatever else the colony runs on with no interconnection between maps or the buildings? THAT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.

    The computer network has been coded to deny Ender information on where anyone lives

    Because? I mean, what's the point storywise of the colony having programmed their phonebook/city directory to make rude faces at Ender if Jane is just going to instantly hack it anyway? I don't understand this in or out of story.

    But so much of this I don't understand. Olhado's eyes raise all kinds of questions - both about the tech of this colony and about how he had a "laser accident" in the first place. People wander in and out of the fence and agony field (you would think that if there was a door, it would be carefully monitored), and it seems that Miro has learned more about the Little Ones than either of his predecessors I just... the lack of sense of the world building and of people's behavior and the throw away bits (laser accident what)... is any part of this supposed to add up to a believable universe with believable people in it?

  4. But unfortunately there's no further exchange on this subject and I am
    left wondering again how Card can write things like that and then go on
    to write things like everything else he writes.

    Meta-Orson struggling to get out?

  5. It seems like this is Card's problem over and over. He takes a typical sci-fi idea, in this case electronic eyes, and then elaborates on them so that he sounds all sciencey and smart, but he has no idea what he's talking about so he just breaks his worldbuilding as he builds it. I don't remember him doing this so much in Ender's Game, but here, he's doing it all over the frikin' place. I mean, he was doing it some with the world building (that whole business with Ender and whasisface requisitioning the pilot and imprisoning him on the secret base that made no sense was the same kind of mistake), but now he's doing it with everything.

  6. Oh good it looks like we're going to get an Entmoot.*

    Maybe the laser accident was a laser pointer mishap? Do not shine directly into eyes! Keep out of reach of children!

    *I know that's not funny I just really wanted to make an Entmoot joke.

  7. I don’t believe Card ever says Novinha was responsible; rather, she blames herself, because one of her personality traits by this time is to consider herself a jinx. She believes by now that just being around her causes bad things to happen to anyone, because of her ingrained self-blame.

  8. "Do not look into laser with remaining eye."

  9. He doesn't make it clear that she's not responsible though. It's more like, you've been blaming yourself for -this- reason, but really you should have been blaming yourself for -that- reason. Her failure as a lover/wife/mother is never in question in the text, it's just the nature of her failure.

  10. I agree. And on top of that, wouldn't it be simpler to just have two functioning eyes and actually have binocular vision? He's making it all pseudo-supersciency when there's no need or point.

  11. Especially when it would probably take more processing power to do the weird "take multiple pictures then fake binocular vision with it" thing than it would to just have camera-eyes. I mean, it's nice that Card considered the question of the processor and power supply and all, but he'd have been better off stopping at "And Olhado has artifical eyes because I am punny hoho."

  12. So, again, despite murders and killings and xenologists making an epic [rooster]-up of the Prime Directive and what they are supposed to be doing...we have a friendship between a xenologist and a Little One?

    Also, bets on how much credit Ender will be assigned (by author or otherwise) for the actions of the Hive Queen and Jane? And how utterly ineffective the silent treatment will actually be, because Ender Wiggin and because the residents of Lusitania are actually interested in not dying?

    Finally, why hasn't the Starways Congress ordered an evacuation of Lusitania and its quarantine? Clearly there's friction between the neighbors, one of which can just leave the planet and find another. Is there some secret unobtanium or phlebotinum here that we haven't been told about yet?

  13. Considering the degree of logic and sense in the setup of the rest of Ender's universe, I'm just going to assume that the laser accident was, in fact, a laser-tag accident.

  14. I'm beginning to think that "xenologist" is code for "person we don't like so much" - "Oh, yeah, it's perfectly all right. Go on. Talk to the Little Ones. Ask them about reproduction a lot, they like that."

  15. I almost feel that there's a pattern here of women/girls being almost as good as Ender but, of course, not quite as good. Petra. Valentine. Novinha. They can never actually lead or come up with the solution; they're his seconds.

  16. Is that the only scene in which they matter? That's fantastic. I read it and thought "Oh, okay, I'm not sure what this achieved that couldn't have been done just as easily with a hidden camcorder, but I guess it's showing us the most obvious use of camera eyes". I was so sure they had to have some future vital importance. I was a credulous fool.

  17. Sorry for the spoiler. But seriously, it's one of the things that bugged me from the second time I read it - there is no reason for Olhado to be blind and have the video eyes, except Card wanted a cool way of giving Ender flashbacks.

  18. Hello, can we "plant" Ender?

  19. Spoiler: Olhado also witnesses the signing of the treaty later on (and the special action which Ender must perform to complete the covenant) because his eyes can record it. Of course, that could also have been done with a camcorder, which wouldn’t even have to be hidden!

  20. laser accident what
    In the future, we won't have ordinary accidents, we'll have laser accidents!
    At least he didn't call say "atomic".

  21. PLANKTON. I will NOT let them study m'fucking PLANKTON.

    and his longer-term discomfort with the idea that, if the Hive Queen does settle here, he will have to do the same.

    Why does he have to do this thing?

    Also: I'm kind of buh at the idea that everyone accepts Valentine's new words because everyone in the universe cares about different words for anthropology. Or whatever.

  22. Basically, Ender will never stop feeling responsible for the formics, so once he lets the queen out, he will stick around for the rest of his life in case they ever have a problem he can solve. Which is, in my estimation, one of the best things he's yet decided to do in life. If he's going to do this thing, sticking with it forever rather than scrubbing his hands and walking off is admirable.

    But, since I gave up on 'charitable' for these books long ago, I would say it's not the best he could do. The most dedicated thing he could do would be to Rackham himself--get on a shuttle, put himself on an appropriate heading, and live his life at relativistic speeds, hopping out every year or so to telepathically check in with the queen and see if she wants help. I don't know if they're capable of doing Park-shifted-orbits (so that he'd always been just a few hours' sublight speed from Lusitania) or if he'd have to jump away and then jump back (say each flight only takes him a few hours, six months each way), so that he can continue to be the legendary guardian of the formics for millennia, not just however many decades his mortal husk will last in his inertial reference frame. He would be a myth to them--the formic queens would teach each new generation the story of Ender Wiggin, the atoner in the stars, who was forced to destroy their old civilisation but now sleeps among the stars, waiting for a day when they might need him again to prevent a second xenocide.

    I'm told that instead he's going to have some kind of weird meta-deal going on with mental projections of his siblings vying for his attention in order to stay alive, in what is definitely a metaphor for the characters vying for Card's attention to give them pagetime. Pretty sure my idea is cooler.

  23. Buh.

    So... you know? I'm NOT an expert on relationships where Party A xenocided every relative of Party B and Party B is hoping to rebirth their entire race. (I think you go to an expert like Captain Awkward for that.)

    But that relationship sounds kind of... dysfunctional for me. I mean, it's probably a redemptive arc, but I don't know that I think it's healthy for Ender. (I don't really like Ender, though, so I guess he can go with god on that.)

    Seems to me like he could best help the Formics by not pissing off every human he meets and maybe building some connections with people so that they don't try to kill the Formics but WHAT DO I KNOW.

  24. Well, the best course of action definitely depends on whether you give Ender's Super-Empathy any credibility at all. My king-under-the-hill thing works only if what the book tells us is definitely true--that basically everyone loves Ender because he's so caring and smart, and he doesn't need to actually interact with people in order to maintain empathy, and he's capable of jetting into a situation that he's never heard of before, becoming an expert, and speaking with absolute truth and conviction on the matter in a couple of weeks.

    If we don't buy into that because it's stupid, then what Ender should really be doing is finding and connecting all the most powerful people who believe in HQ&H and getting them to establish appropriate legal institutions to safeguard the repopulation of the formics, and he should then settle the queen down on an uninhabited planet (he could literally buy one) and leave matters in many more capable hands. That can't work in Card's universe because there are only like six competent humans in the galaxy and most of them are Wiggins.

  25. And how did they get those satellites up there in the first place? Have
    they just been launching satellites since they landed, without any
    regard for whether the Little Ones see the launch?

    I figured they brought the satellites with them when they left Baia, and left them in orbit before going down to the planet's surface. This relies on their having some sort of common sense, admittedly.

  26. But, Ana, he doesn't piss off every human he meets. They all love him because he's so superior and genius and perfect. Nobody can out-think him, out-argue him, or even contradict him because anyone who does so is proved wrong, and laughably wrong at that.

    No, I don't really like Ender either. Could you tell?

  27. "If we don't buy into that because it's stupid, then what Ender should really be doing is finding and connecting all the most powerful people who believe in HQ&H and getting them to establish appropriate legal institutions to safeguard the repopulation of the formics, and he should then settle the queen down on an uninhabited planet (he could literally buy one) and leave matters in many more capable hands."

    But that would mean instituting a government, with a constitution (or with some kind of primary set of rules), and with legal institutions (don't you know those are for weaklings?), all set up on the basis of advice tendered by experts. Yaaaaaaaaggggghhhh. Every last one of these things, according to the unstated rules of Enderverse, are justly detested by all decent people, who are unable to contemplate them without shudders of horror. More capable hands? But there are no more capable hands — there are no more capable hands than Ender's, for one thing, and there are no more capable hands than those or a morally stricken individual with a Messiah complex, for another. A man travels swiftest when he travels by himself and anything worth doing can be done by an unaccompanied male (invisible girlfriends do not count).* Thus saith the Unspoken Cardian Law, and Ender is acting in perfect consonance with it. Ender can't turn into King Arthur because King Arthur has a context — he has a history and a biography and an ancestry ("the once and future king") and a circle of accomplices. Ender can't carry a like weight because if any conditions whatever were to placed on him they'd render him impure. King Arthur is the first among equals but Ender is a nonpareil and no expense, literal or figurative, is spared to point up his solitary state.

    * Jane has no physical existence and the Hive Queen barely has a physical existence. Jane exists entirely, and the Hive Queen exists for the most part, at the "philotic" level. I don't think that's an accident.

  28. Ender
    is a nonpareil

    We put those on cupcakes, right? (Now imagining Ender as colorful crunchy nomage.)

  29. That might work if the cupcakes weren't baked all the way through. (Somewhere in this book, IIRC, it's emphasized that Ender's pretty pasty.) But I was only talking about figurative sprinkles.

  30. I like Sprinkle-Ender better than Book-Ender. :)

  31. Well. I can't top that.

  32. Minor spoilers here, but I'll put them in rot13 anyway:
    Yhfvgnavn pna'g or rinphngrq (fhccbfrqyl) orpnhfr bs gur Qrfpbynqn. Gur pbaprea vf gung nalbar jub yrnirf gur cynarg jvyy oevat gur ivehf jvgu gurz, naq vg jbhyq qrfgebl arneyl nyy fcrpvrf ba nal jbeyq rkcbfrq gb vg.

    Juvpu zrnaf nalbar jub ivfvgf Yhfvgnavn vf fghpx gurer sberire. Xvaq bs znxrf lbh jbaqre jul nalbar vf nyybjrq gb geniry gurer ng nyy...Gubhtu V'z abg fher nalbar npghnyyl unf geniryrq gurer orsber Raqre qvq.

  33. That's still not acceptable, and is yet again displaying the curious lack of automaton and automata in the Enderverse. It would be no problem at all to send an autopilot fleet of carriers or an ansible-connected fleet to Lusitania, board them, then turn over control to them so that they can spend the rest of life away from the Little Ones. A big enough carrier, and perhaps a space station, and things can do well for them. No need to antagonize the situation further.

  34. Oh no, it's not a GOOD explanation by any means. Like most of Card's sci-fi ideas, he throws in a few sentences of "explanation" without thinking through any implications, so it doesn't really make sense at all. I mean, even without automated ships or space stations, they clearly have enough advanced genetic manipulation that the virus shouldn't be a problem anyway. :/

  35. Grah Scientists don't work like this! I'm glad someone else is as frustrated by Card's writing as I am because rereading this book over and over and Ender in Exile ruined this series for me and made me go, wait a minute. *spoiler rant complete with a lot of cussing*