’ve got a friend in a hospital sixty miles off whom I visit three times a week. This is an extra 300 miles a week in the car, or five hours going putt-putt-putt. There was a serious concern that, following a long day at work, I might fall asleep at 80mph on the lonely swamp-crossing highway, go into the brush, get eaten by alligators and never be seen again.
Listened to music CDs and actually drifted off the road one night. This wasn’t working. Next trip out, I stopped at the local library and fingered through their audio books collection. And that’s how I ended up listening to The Swarm, a prequel to the wildly popular Enders Game.
Ender’s Game involves humanity fighting against the Formics (a race of creatures seemingly controlled by a hive mind). In this history, the first time the Formics showed up they gassed half of China (and this was a scout ship). And now they are coming again, a fleet of them. This book picks up characters hinted at in Enders and carries them through the dire times where Earth is attempting to unify its defense, to figure a way to penetrate the Formic hull armor, and to keep from being extinguished (or, more correctly, terraformed (formicformed?)) And good luck to them.
The story centers around four plotlines, that of a young Chinese boy who grew up in war, a Kuiper Belt miner and his crew out in the black, a military officer who boarded and destroyed the Formic scout ship, and an industrialist trying to come up with a solution about that impregnable armor the enemy uses. Through these characters, we see various aspects of our desperate system at war.
I’ll say this, the story rolled along pretty briskly, the voice acting was top-notch and the miles rolled by. I really enjoyed seeing where Ender’s Battle School came from. My only disappointment came from the fact that I thought I had another disk to listen to (there was the back side of the last sleeve) and suddenly it was the end. And not a full end, not with the Formics massing and insurmountable problems (internal and otherwise) facing our race. Only the next day was I able to check – yes, part one of the trilogy, so that’s literally not all she (or a pair of he’s) wrote. More to come.
But it was a very interesting story of vast space and human frailties. And if my friend can’t get his ass out of the damn hospital, well, in a short while, I’ll have another set of disks to listen to.