Ender's Game: Formic Wars: Burning Earth Hardcover – Sep 21 2011
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About the Author
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Aaron Johnston is the coauthor of the novel Invasive Procedures and the comic book series Dragon Age, both with Orson Scott Card. Additional comic credits include Ender in Exile, League War, and Mazer in Prison, all for Marvel. His screenplay adaptations include Sarah: Woman of Genesis, The Multiple Man, Feed the Baby of Love, and others.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is hard to believe that Card had anything to do with the story being told here. Fans of Card know that his stories are always wonderfully woven around three dimensional characters facing a moral dilemma. All of the characters in this graphic novel are embarrassingly shallow and the dialogue is one cliche after another. What's worse, the story actually contradicts much of what we learn about the First Invasion from the original novel. While I am not against an author doing this (OSC has done this before), in 'Formic Wars' it is done only as a device to forcibly drive forward a tasteless plot. The introduction of a character from Ender's Game is likewise done without skill or merit and in my opinion ruins the character Card built. For the sake of my love for the original novel, I will just pretend that it is some totally unrelated character of the same name.
As I said, I am not an avid reader of graphic novels. Perhaps this is how they have to be written. Perhaps it is an excellent graphic novel and I just cannot appreciate the artwork. But for those of you hoping to see Card's usual brilliance in depicting the discovery of the Buggers, I warn you to stay away and settle for pre-ordering "Shadows in Flight" instead.
The artwork by Giancarlo Caracuzzo is adequate. The panels support the text and were usually easy to follow. His depiction of the Buggers was spot-on as to how I imagined them reading the first book twenty years ago. A few of the covers, especially the last one depicting flaming alien ships falling from the skies, are very evocative and memorable. I had some quibbles with the fact that Captain O'Witt's skin color kept changing hues from white to dark, and it was hard to tell the soldiers apart in a few of the fight scenes inside the enemy ship. Also, I felt the art was too cartoonish; I preferred Pasqual Ferry's more three-dimensional and textured artwork in the original Ender's Game adaptation.
The story itself was fast-paced and exciting, especially the hand-to-hand combat scenes in China between human resistance fighters and the Formic aliens. The focus was clearly on the action and not on detailed plotting or character development. In general this has been true of all the comic adaptations in the series, except Speaker for the Dead. The result is much different than the novels, which are much more focused on characters and politics. If this were a standalone man vs. alien tale, I would probably appreciate it as a simple adventure tale.
How does it fit within the overall scope of the Ender saga? Well, not too well.
It seems Card and Johnston decided to ignore the events of the First Invasion, as originally told in EG. I could understand a few continuity errors, but this will probably require a rewrite of several passages in a future edition of EG.
1. In EG, we learned the first battle of the First Invasion occurred on Eros. The Formics had made Eros their forward base of operations, and they blacked it out so we (humans) couldn't see what they were doing. Earth sent a ship to investigate and the Formics killed all the crew. This was how we learned of the Formics and how the first war started.
In EG, Mazer explains that people on Earth watched via delayed video feed as buggers boarded the ship sent to Eros and methodically killed the crew. He tells Ender that the buggers probably thought they were killing the ship's communications by doing this. In fact, of course, they never disrupted communications at all because it never occurred to them humans might not communicate telepathically. Mazer points this out as a major weakness of the Formics, one of the few advantages Ender can exploit.
Ender's entire understanding of the biology of the Formics, the role of the queen and drones, and the way in which faster-than-light communication occurred all stemmed from what Mazer told him about the Battle of Eros and the final battle of the Second Invasion, in which Mazer destroyed a queen. Ender's decision at the end of EG was directly influenced by these events.
But in Formic Wars, this Battle of Eros did not happen at all.
2. In EG, we learned Formics made no effort to block radio or video communication. Since they communicated to each other via telepathy, it never occurred to them that humans would communicate via technology.
In Formic Wars, the alien ship blocked all radio and satellite communication, at least while in flight. This may have been an inadvertent byproduct of the ship's technology itself rather than an intentional strategic decision by the Buggers. Still, it's a pretty big plot hole.
3. In EG, we learned the First Invasion occurred 30 years before the Second Invastion. Mazer Rackham served in the 2nd Invasiion, and is described as "little known, twice court-martialed" before his victory in the 2nd war. Then, he was stationed on Eros for 20 years. Then, he took a relativistic space flight that aged him 8 years, while 50 years passed on Earth. He appears to be around 60 years old at the time of EG.
If you work the timeline backwards, it is not possible for Rackham to have served in the First Invasion. He would have been 2 years old. Plus, it's hard to believe Rackham is an unknown at the time of the Second Invasion, given his huge role in repelling the First Invasion in Formic Wars.
Finaly it's here in the format of a graphic novel that allows us to see, with no ambiguity, not just the visuals of events but also the formics (nee buggers) looked and behaved.
There are a few raw elements here (like people still using what appears to be an ordinary camera in today's technology instead of the mid/distant future setting of this story; etc. etc.). But the overall story more than makes up for them in its other parts. Hence, while it is by no means a perfect product, it still deserves five stars in how it encapsulates and unites the story throughout.
The artwork is also very good (though I most prefer the first Ender's Game graphic novel's artwork best), with details not left behind but shown well throughout. The visuals and likeness of the humans, ships, cities and creatures give you a feel that they are exactly as you would have imagined most of them if described in written form and Ender novels.
As to the story, the pace is fast and covers lots of ground while allowing you to see the viewpoints not just of one or a few protagonists, but different people affected while sticking to the knitting of the people who have a stake in the progression of the story.
I only wish this was in novel form so as to enjoy the story more. Like the Ender's Game and Shadow graphic novels series, they depict the novels very well, but like TV/movie adaptations, a lot of detail simply cannot be crammed into the limited space that it ends up lighter/shallower; and thus, in this case, while the story is good and it appears to be part of some novellas, it's good enough that I truly look forward to actual novels about it being written.