Over time, the Ender novels have become a series of diminishing returns. Orson Scott Card breathed a bit of new life into the series by going back to its roots and examining the saga from Bean’s point of view, but after five books I find myself once again suffering series fatigue.
The latest installment Shadows In Flight isn’t necessarily a terrible book. It’s just a pale shadow (pun fully intended) of the first novels in this series. Bean and three of his children have launched themselves into the universe, trying to get away from Earth and to cure the condition that condemns them to a rapid lifespan. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious ship resulting in a first contact situation.
I know that Card isn’t a huge fan of Star Trek but there were multiple instances reading this latest book that I felt like this story would work better in the Trek universe than it does in the Ender universe. Again, part of that could be my deep abiding hope that Captain Kirk might somehow beam over and start to liven things up a bit because large chunks of this book are endless philosophical debate between characters who, quite frankly, fail to grab my attention or be memorable in any significant way.
The good thing I can say about Flight is it’s mercifully shorter than most of other installments of the series. It felt more like an interesting idea for a novella expanded out to just barely a short novel length.
With each of the last several Shadow novels, I’ve come to the final page and felt like Card has run out of interesting ideas for this universe and declared that it’s less than likely I’d read the next installment, assuming there is one. So, here I am, once again at the same point, swearing off the books and vowing to not read any more. But I know deep down the completest in me won’t allow a sixth installment to go unread simply because of the fond memories I have of the early installments of the Ender saga. So maybe it’s time for Mr. Card to do us all a favor and let this series rest.