Co-author: Aaron Johnston
Several months ago, Ender’s Game premiered on the big screen and it was quite the blockbuster. Written more than a decade ago, Ender’s Game was about a juvenile military officer (Ender Wiggin) and his strategic battle against the invading aliens known as the Formics. Of course, we all know how that ended (please tell me that you saw the movie, mates).
Earth Afire is the prequel to Ender’s Game and it introduces us to the Earth prior to and during its invasion by the Formics. The books opens with a precocious (and apparently wise beyond his years) teenager named Bingwen sharing a video downloaded on the nets (yes, I know they call it the nets, and not the internet). It is video of an actual attack by the Formics that was transmitted from a terraformed planet by a miner named Victor Delgado. Did I mention that he did this at great risk to his life? The problem is that many folks in the Lunar moon colonies (yes, we’re living on the moon and all that other bollocks) and Earth spent most of their time debunking the video calling it hoax leaving poor Victor aghast and losing his marbles. Either that or they were too busy catching up on the latest craziness of the Real Housewives Of the Orion Belt On Saturn and they couldn’t be bothered with some alien that is bent on ANNIHILATING the world. And the sad truth is that this is a workable possibility … alas , a slight detour, won’t you say.
In time the Formics make it to Earth and starts their attack on … China. Yes, I hate to break it to those of us that watched Independence Day or War of The Worlds, but this time the aliens decided to go east on us. And the fate of the world rests in the arms of an interplanetary, motley crew of characters: Mazer Rackham ( a rogue New Zealand SAS officer), Lem Ukko (the machiavellian son of a space mining mogul), Bingwen (an extremely brave and wise teen beyond his years), a defiant astrophysicist and a rogue government worker (and no she is not a postal worker). Interestingly enough, throughout the book as the Formics ravage the terraformed planets and Earth itself, one can only read on in complete and utter dismay as human beings still bicker over trivial and absolute bollocks. Sorry there was no Bill Pullman giving inspirational speeches about Independence Day that would whip the human race into some awesome unifying fighting force. Sorry mates, different sci-fi. And the sad truth is, it is not far from the truth. And we only need to take a nice glance at the wanks in Washington to confirm this harsh reality that is bound to keep most of us up at nights, huddled next to a bedside lamp as we clutch our beloved AR-15 rifle. A bit too dark on that one, wasn’t I?
Card’s Earth Afire is delightfully thought provoking, filled with intrigue around the bends of each page and with such intense action to set your imagination on fire. Sir Ben Kingsley plays the role of Mazer Rackham in Ender’s Game, but after reading Earth Afire most would find a fondness for the character. I promise you this. And yes, you’re gonna love Bingwen.