Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

Earth Afire(Description nicked from B&

“Victor Delgado beat the alien ship to Earth, but just barely. Not soon enough to convince skeptical governments that there was a threat. They didn’t believe that until space stations and ships and colonies went up in sudden flame.

And when that happened, only Mazer Rackham and the Mobile Operations Police could move fast enough to meet the threat.”

Most fans of science fiction and fantasy have read Ender’s Game, and now a new generation of readers is being drawn to it as a result of the movie.  The original novel is a classic for a good reason, but I have to admit to a fannish glee at seeing these prequels.  Many of you probably read the first book at a young age and therefore identified with Ender, but now Card and Johnston are bringing the battle to Earth, where all ages, classes and nationalities are fighting to save our planet.  It’s such a wonderful picture of how we as humans can pull together at need.

Of course, not everyone in the story feels the same.  There are always those who think of their own interests ahead of the good of all, and sad to say, they’re not overreacting.  China is the site of the first Formic landing, but the national leaders refuse to allow Russia to help, for fear that Russian troops won’t leave once they get there.  It’s a situation that should be all too familiar if you watch the news; sometimes it seems that the entire world functions on a theory of enlightened paranoia.

The real enemy is the Formic force, and the authors do a wonderful job of making them terrifying in their disregard for humanity.  I was put in mind of the scene in The Avengers when Loki describes how humans are just ants and the stronger beings are the boot that stomps on us, because you see what appears to be that exact mindset from the Formics.  I found their actions disturbing not because of their enmity towards us, but because of how they completely ignore us and yet still endanger us.

With the landing of the Formics on Earth, there’s quite a bit of action on tap, moreso than the first novel.  There are also more opportunities to actually see the aliens up close, something that we didn’t get much of in Earth Unaware.  And it’s not just the military that pits their strength against the Formics—regular people do what they can to try and combat the menace.  They don’t always have a lot of success, but it’s heartening to see them try.

I find myself enjoying this series as much as the original one.  Getting the backstory of the Formic attack on Earth, and getting Mazer Rackham’s history, is something will appeal to those who loved Ender’s Game and want to know more about how the world got to the point where it has the Battle School and the final invasion fleet.  Earth Afire is a book that no fan of science fiction should miss.

Series: The First Formic War
ISBN: 9780765329059
Publisher: Tor
Page Count: 400
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Author Website–Orson Scott Card
Author Website–Aaron Johnston
Read an excerpt