Earth Afire: The First Formic War

Having set aside my higher expectations after Earth Unaware, I was anticipating pretty much a simple adventure story this time around. That's pretty much what I got with Earth Afire. Unexpectedly, though, we were introduced to Mazer Rackham in this book, and he was unfortunately less than impressive as a character. In Ender's Game, Card writes a character who is convincingly super-intelligent yet childish. Mazer is supposed to be cut from similar if not quite identical cloth, but he doesn't carry it convincingly.

On the whole I was disappointed with this book more than the first.
The same basic complaint applies to the whole book. Characters who are supposed to be intelligent don't always impress. There are child geniuses who just don't impress as geniuses. The supposedly intelligent characters sometimes speak in platitudes. The Mobile Operations Police (a unit of elite soldiers handwaved into existence with little supervision) displays zero comprehension of a concept as simple as tradeoffs between trained skillsets.

(To pick one example, soldiers are expected to train with improvised spears to defeat soldiers with rifles; while stealth and surprise may allow an occasional win, time spend training for such a lopsided scenario will negatively affect training for actual useful scenarios when soldiers are fighting with the best weapons available to them.)

While there are occasional moments of creative problem solving, the solution to the problem presented in the book is mind-blowingly obvious. It's a sort of Chekov's Gun moment; the instant the author puts the necessary item on the board, I as a reader identified both the problem it was intended to solve and the manner in which it would solve that problem. Worse, it's not even especially interesting as a solution to the problem or a technology in general.

I haven't decided whether to continue to the next book, Earth Awakens.

This entry was published Sun Jun 22 13:46:30 CDT 2014 by Matthew and last updated 2018-06-26 09:54:07.0.

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