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.
THEY FREAK OUT ABOUT ACCIDENTALLY SAYING 'ACROBAT' BUT THEY LET THE LITTLE ONES SEE THEIR STELLAR OBSERVATORY AND THEIR SPACE SHUTTLES.
EVERYONE ON THIS PLANET IS FIRED.
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.