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
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.
Scott Card's web page
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