Scott and Johnston explore human ignorance and compassion through a tapestry of galactic warfare in the second volume of the Formic Wars trilogy, collectively a prequel to Ender’s Game. After the independent asteroid mining ship El Cavador is attacked, Victor Delgado escapes and joins State Official Imala in warning mining magnate Ukko Jukes and Earth’s scientists of approaching hostile insectlike aliens called Formics. While diplomats seek a peaceful solution, Rena, a matriarch from El Cavador, gathers her surviving people aboard a scavenger ship, and damnable villain Lem Jukes, Ukko’s son, plans to overtake the Formic ships and defy his father’s iron grip. Against this operatic backdrop, heroic Lt. Mazer Rackham and his special forces stand alone against the deadly insectoids.
Card and Johnston craft cinematically detailed environments for their space miners, thieves, and outcasts, probing the inner mechanics and conflicts of various groups. Social upheavals and political ineptitude are realized through rich characterization and brisk action, marrying the genre staple of alien invasion with conflicts of conscience.
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