Xenocide: Ender, Book Three

Xenocide: Ender, Book Three

Continuing in a more philosophical vein, the third installment in the Ender Saga opens on the world of Path in the home of Han Fei-tzu as his beloved wife prepares the die. Path, it seems, is a world built on the ancient Chinese caste system, where peasants are ruled by the godspoken: those who are believed to be so holy that the Gods force them to show obedience through long trials of compulsive behavior. With the passing of his wife, Han Fei-tzu makes a promise to raise their daughter, Qing-jao, in her mother’s beliefs, even though his own heart is not so sure.

Qing-jao proves to be everything her parents had hoped for: intelligent, clever and godspoken. Her devotional happens to be tracing the grains of wood on the floor. When Starways Congress asks her father to research issues involving Lusitania, it becomes her opportunity to prove herself and please her father. With the help of her new maid, Si Wang-mu, Qing-jao begins to unravel much of the ideological problems presented by destroying a planet that may be home to perhaps the only other sentient race in the universe since the destruction of the Formic’s (Bugger’s) home world. Truly the question becomes is the obvious risk of the descolada, the virus that rewrites an individual’s entire genetic code to suit itself and destroys its host if they cannot adapt fast enough, worth the risk if it spreads? Starways Congress, backed by Qing-jao’s findings, is more than willing to sacrifice Lusitania for the sake of humanity.

They also know that the people on that planet are being aided by a highly advanced computer program that seems to be intercepting its communications and, as such, are rapidly shutting down the ansible communications network, which will in essence spell the death of Jane, the sentient computer program that has befriended Ender and Miro. Time is running out for everyone and Jane decides to involve Han Fei-tzu and his family in finding a solution to the impossible problem: how do they disable the descolada so it is no longer a threat, thus removing the impetus for the annihilation of Lusitania? There is also the problem of the godspoken of Path. Are their devotionals truly gifts from their gods or genetic alterations performed for a more sinister reason?

Meanwhile, Ender and his family are desperately working to alter the descolada without destroying the properties that allow life on Lusitania to continue and to find someplace for Jane’s soul, or aiua, to reside should all ansible communication be cut off. Human and pequinino alike are working together for a solution that will save both species...and the Hive Queen as well. But some of their outlying pequinino neighbors are being inflamed by a murderous father tree bent on wiping out all other life and spreading the descolada throughout the universe.

Looming over the entire work is the idea of what makes someone human. Can the destruction of the planet of Lusitania be excused because the pequininos do not physically resemble humanity? Or is there something deeper, besides appearance, that would make all sentient, like-minded creatures brothers under the skin? For those who love the character of Ender/Andrew Wiggin, this novel actually focuses less on him and more on the efforts of his family and the residents of Path as they all try to find solutions to their problems. Far more philosophical than the original book in the series, Ender’s Game, this novel and its continuation, Children of the Mind, discuss deeper issues that would make excellent conversation.

Recommended by Jamequa Summerall, Librarian

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