Children of the Mind

Orson Scott Card

Tor Books. $23.95
(paper $6.99)

The planet Lusitania is home to three intelligent species, including humans; it is about to be destroyed in order to contain a virus that is already under control. Jane is a vast computer intelligence who is about to be shut out of the galaxy-wide computer network where she lives. While Jane tries to evacuate Lusitania's population to other inhabitable planets, she is also guiding a more direct attempt (via roundabout appeals) to save herself and the planet. Because not all of the people of Lusitania, like the great Hive Queen or the rooted father- and mothertrees, are able to leave; and because Jane, like any intelligent, sentient being, fears dying.

Children of the Mind is the fourth and final book of Orson Scott Card's popular "Ender's Saga," which began with Ender's Game. The book reads quickly and easily, despite the philosophical and sociological discussions Card inserts. Balancing these sophomoric digressions is Card's quirky, bantering humor: when Jane asks if longing and "stupid giddy happiness" are symptoms of love, another character responds, "That's influenza." As for concluding the series, Children of the Mind has a very open ending -- communication with a fourth newly discovered intelligent species is just beginning -- and it seems questionable whether Card will resist the temptation to write additional "Ender-once-removed" stories.

At best, Children of the Mind would be a slightly better than average novel by an average science fiction writer. But Card is not just an average science fiction writer; he is very good, as his earlier Hugo and Nebula Award winning Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead show. As a sequel to these brilliant novels, Children of the Mind is mediocre in comparison.


A shorter version of this review originally appeared in the January 12, 1997 edition of The Roanoke Times.


Visit Orson Scott Card's web page

Ender's Saga:

Ender's Game. Tor, 1985
Speaker for the Dead. Tor, 1986
Xenocide. Tor, 1991
Children of the Mind. Tor, 1996
Ender's Shadow. Tor, August 1999


This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris
Information last updated July 27, 2000

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