Earth Unaware is the first in a prequel series to Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic, Ender’s Game. The award winning Ender’s Game has been made into a movie and it will be shown in theaters in November.
Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors. He lives in North Carolina (where I grew up), he is a Latter-day Saint (like me), and he graduated from Brigham Young University (like me). Plus, he writes excellent Science Fiction. For others excited about the movie I would recommend reading Earth Unaware and Earth Afire in order, unlike what I did (I read them in opposite order.)
Abbreviated Plot Summary
Earth Unaware begins in an unusual way. It begins with teenager who is part of an asteroid mining clan in the outer belt of asteroids in our Solar System essentially having a crush on his second cousin. It seemed like an odd plot to start with. Card made it interesting and plausable, but it just seemed like an unusual way to start a book. I believe relationships between second cousins are legal currently, but apparently in the culture of the isolated families it is extremely discouraged. So, the girl who is part of this relationship is put onto another clans ship at the age of 16 to avoid any possible inappropriate behavior.
Earth Unaware continues by telling how this mining vessel sees an enormous alien ship approaching the solar system that soon proves to be a potential threat to humanity. Another story line that Earth Unaware switches to, other than the mining family, is that of a giant corporate CEO who is testing a new mining technology. He feels forced to make some difficult ethical decisions to earn his father’s respect, and he is forced to decide how much he is willing to sacrifice to try to stop the alien ships advance.
Another story line is that of an elite group of soldiers. Mazer Rackham makes a cameo in this story line. These soldiers have proven themselves to be the best of the best on Earth, but it is unclear if they are prepared for an alien threat. Much of Earth Unaware tells of how individuals and groups respond to the potential threat to humanity. The characters have to confront some difficult dilemmas and questions? Do they save themselves? Do they sacrifice themselves in a potentially fruitless effort to stop the alien advance? Do they refuse to believe limited facts about the approaching alien vessel just because similar claims have all been false before?
One of the reasons I like science fiction is because it provides interesting thought experiments. One such questions is what if in the near future you were the first person to witness a hostile alien ship entering the solar system? What would you do? What if social norms, bureaucracy, and personal sacrifices stood in the way of you helping out billions of strangers? Orson Scott Card provides an interesting story as to what might be the critical story lines in just such a situation.
I really enjoyed the book. I usually can’t get enough of intelligent science fiction. I can’t stand the mindless horror science fiction where science or nature goes wrong and threatens everyone. If that is what you’re expecting from a science fiction book, and if you like a little action in your reading, then I think you would be pleasantly surprised by Earth Unaware.
And, if you’d like to hear a brief preview of the book, here is a clip from the audio book from Earth Unaware, provided by Macmillian Audio. Just press play!