open
Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

Children of the Mind
Purchase this book from Amazon.com Purchase this book from Amazon.co.uk Purchase this book for Kindle

Added By: Administrator
Last Updated:

Children of the Mind

Synopsis | Excerpt | Reviews | Images

Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor, 1996
Series: The Ender Wiggin Saga: Book 4
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Colonization
Human Development
Space Exploration
If you liked Children of the Mind you might like these books.
Awards:  
Lists:  
Links:
Avg Member Rating:
(287 reads / 119 ratings)


Synopsis

With Children of the Mind, Card returns to the story of Ender Wiggin: hero of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Enders Game, the original Speaker for the Dead, and the hated Xenocide who murdered an entire planet. Now his adopted world, Lusitania, is threatened by the same planet-destroying weapon that he himself used so many thousands of years before.

Enders oldest friend, Jane, the computer intelligence that has evolved with him over 3000 years, is about to be killed by the Starways Congress, which has finally discovered her existence and fears her control of the galaxy-wide interlocked network of computers and ansibles.Jane can save the three sentient races of Lusitaniathe Pequeninos, the Hive Queens daughters, and the human colony. She has learned how to move ships outside the universe, and then instantly back to a different world, abolishing the light-speed limit. But it takes all the processing power available to her, and the Starways Congress is shutting down the Net world by world.


Excerpt

1

"I'M NOT MYSELF"

"Mother. Father. Did I do it right?"

The last words of Han Qing-jao, from

The God Whispers of Han Qing-jao

Si Wang-mu stepped forward. The young man named Peter took her hand and led her into the starship. The door closed behind them.

Wang-mu sat down on one of the swiveling chairs inside the small metal-walled room. She looked around, expecting to see something strange and new. Except for the metal walls, it could have been any office on the world of Path. Clean, but not fastidiously so. Furnished, in a utilitarian way. She had seen holos of ships in flight: the smoothly streamlined fighters and shuttles that dipped into and out of the atmosphere; the vast rounded structures of the starships that accelerated as near to the speed of light as matter could get. On the one hand, the sharp power of a needle; on the other, the massive power of a sledgehammer. But here in this room, no power at all. Just a room.

Where was the pilot? There must be a pilot, for the young man who sat across the room from her, murmuring to his computer, could hardly be controlling a starship capable of the feat of traveling faster than light.

And yet that must have been precisely what he was doing, for there were no other doors that might lead to other rooms. The star-ship had looked small from the outside; this room obviously used all the space that it contained. There in the corner were the batteries that stored energy from the solar collectors on the top of the ship. In that chest, which seemed to be insulated like a refrigerator, there might be food and drink. So much for life support. Where was the romance in starflight now, if this was all it took? A mere room.

With nothing else to watch, she watched the young man at the computer terminal. Peter Wiggin, he said his name was. The name of the ancient Hegemon, the one who first united all the human race under his control, back when people lived on only one world, all the nations and races and religions and philosophies crushed together elbow to elbow, with nowhere to go but into each other's lands, for the sky was a ceiling then, and space was a vast chasm that could not be bridged. Peter Wiggin, the man who ruled the human race. This was not him, of course, and he had admitted as much. Andrew Wiggin sent him; Wang-mu remembered, from things that Master Han had told her, that Andrew Wiggin had somehow made him. Did this make the great Speaker of the Dead Peter's father? Or was he somehow Ender's brother, not just named for but actually embodying the Hegemon who had died three thousand years before?

Peter stopped murmuring, leaned back in his chair, and sighed. He rubbed his eyes, then stretched and groaned. It was a very indelicate thing to do in company. The sort of thing one might expect from a coarse fieldworker.

He seemed to sense her disapproval. Or perhaps he had forgotten her and now suddenly remembered that he had company. Without straightening himself in his chair, he turned his head and looked at her.

"Sorry," he said. "I forgot I was not alone."

Wang-mu longed to speak boldly to him, despite a lifetime retreating from bold speech. After all, he had spoken to her with offensive boldness, when his starship appeared like a fresh-sprouted mushroom on the lawn by the river and he emerged with a single vial of a disease that would cure her home world, Path, of its genetic illness. He had looked her in the eye not fifteen minutes ago and said, "Come with me and you'll be part of changing history. Making history." And despite her fear, she had said yes.

Had said yes, and now sat in a swivel chair watching him behave crudely, stretching like a tiger in front of her. Was that his beast-of-the-heart, the tiger? Wang-mu had read the Hegemon. She could believe that there was a tiger in that great and terrible man. But this one? This boy? Older than Wang-mu, but she was not too young to know immaturity when she saw it. He was going to change the course of history! Clean out the corruption in the Congress. Stop the Lusitania Fleet. Make all colony planets equal members of the Hundred Worlds. This boy who stretched like a jungle cat.

"I don't have your approval," he said. He sounded annoyed and amused, both at once. But then she might not be good at understanding the inflections of one such as this. Certainly it was hard to read the grimaces of such a round-eyed man. Both his face and his voice contained hidden languages that she could not understand.

"You must understand," he said. "I'm not myself."

Wang-mu spoke the common language well enough at least to understand the idiom. "You are unwell today?" But she knew even as she said it that he had not meant the expression idiomatically at all.

"I'm not myself," he said again. "I'm not really Peter Wiggin."

"I hope not," said Wang-mu. "I read about his funeral in school."

"I do look like him, though, don't I?" He brought up a hologram into the air over his computer terminal. The hologram rotated to look at Wang-mu; Peter sat up and assumed the same pose, facing her.

"There is a resemblance," she said.

"Of course, I'm younger," said Peter. "Because Ender didn't see me again after he left Earth when he was—what, five years old? A little runt, anyway. I was still a boy. That's what he remembered, when he conjured me out of thin air."

"Not air at all," she said. "Out of nothing."

"Not nothing, either," he said. "Conjured me, all the same." He smiled wickedly. "I can call spirits from the vasty deep."

These words meant something to him, but not to her. In the world of Path she had been expected to be a servant and so was educated very little. Later, in the house of Han Fei-tzu, her abilities had been recognized, first by her former mistress, Han Qing-jao, and later by the master himself. From both she had acquired some bits of education, in a haphazard way. What teaching there had been was mostly technical, and the literature she learned was of the Middle Kingdom, or of Path itself. She could have quoted endlessly from the great poet Li Qing-jao, for whom her one-time mistress had been named. But of the poet he was quoting, she knew nothing.

"I can call spirits from the vasty deep," he said again. And then, changing his voice and manner a little, he answered himself. "Why so can I, or so can any man. But will they come when you do call for them?"

"Shakespeare?" she guessed.

He grinned at her. She thought of the way a cat smiles at the creature it is toying with. "That's always the best guess when a European is doing the quoting," he said.

"The quotation is funny," she said. "A man brags that he can summon the dead. But the other man says that the trick is not calling, but rather getting them to come."

He laughed. "What a way you have with humor."

"This quotation means something to you, because Ender called you forth from the dead."

He looked startled. "How did you know?"

She felt a thrill of fear. Was it possible? "I did not know, I was making a joke."

"Well, it's not true. Not literally. He didn't raise the dead. Though he no doubt thinks he could, if the need arose." Peter sighed. "I'm being nasty. The words just come to my mind. I don't mean them. They just come."

"It is possible to have words come to your mind, and still refrain from speaking them aloud."

He rolled his eyes. "I wasn't trained for servility, the way you were."

So this was the attitude of one who came from a world of free people—to sneer at one who had been a servant through no fault of her own. "I was trained to keep unpleasant words to myself as a matter of courtesy," she said. "But perhaps to you, that is just another form of servility."

"As I said, Royal Mother of the West, nastiness comes unbidden to my mouth."

"I am not the Royal Mother," said Wang-mu. "The name was a cruel joke—"

"And only a very nasty person would mock you for it." Peter grinned. "But I'm named for the Hegemon. I thought perhaps bearing ludicrously overwrought names was something we might have in common."

She sat silently, entertaining the possibility that he might have been trying to make friends.

"I came into existence," he said, "only a short while ago. A matter of weeks. I thought you should know that about me."

She didn't understand.

"You know how this starship works?" he said.

Now he was leaping from subject to subject. Testing her. Well, she had had enough of being tested. "Apparently one sits within it and is examined by rude strangers," she said.

He smiled and nodded. "Give as good as you get. Ender told me you were nobody's servant."

"I was the true and faithful servant of Qing-jao. I hope Ender did not lie to you about that."

He brushed away her literalism. "A mind of your own." Again his eyes sized her up; again she felt utterly comprehended by his lingering glance, as she had felt when he first looked at her beside the river. "Wang-mu, I am not speaking metaphorically when I tell you I was only just made. Made, you understand, not born. And the way I was made has much to do with how this starship works. I don't want to bore you by explaining things you already understand, but you must know what—not who—I am in order to understand why I need you with me. So I ask again—do you know how this starship works?...

Copyright © 1996 by Orson Scott Card


Reviews

Children of the Mind

- verkisto
  (7/26/2016)

Images

No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel. Be the first to submit one!