Review: Earth Unaware

Earth Unaware
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although this is shelved in the adult section, as the pre-cursor to Ender’s Game, a YA book, I put it in that category. The plot revolves around what happened in the beginning – when the first alien ship is noticed as a blip on the radar when a young person manning the Eye – the station that keeps track of possible debris and rock chunks that might damage them. She likes to look beyond the ecliptic, and sees, way out there, past the Kuiper Belt where they are mining, a shape, moving fast. So she alerts the ship’s Captain. The El Cavador, owned and operated by a South American family family, had just docked with another small band of ships, the Italians, and traded goods, and socialized, but now it is time to get back to work mining the asteroid, and sending the ore back to Luna in fast ships that carry the ore, but can accelerate and deccelerate at levels that would kill a person. Victor, the ship’s apprentice, but genius engineer, is summoned to the Captain’s cabin and told that his best friend n the ship is being sent to the Italian ship – they have seen love blossoming between the two, although the kids themselves aren’t aware of it yet, and although they are only second cousins, such love is forbidden, and would lower their status – they are determined to keep the gene line clean out that far, and are obsessed with keeping to the rules. If his friend Janda had stayed, now that they were made aware of their feelings it would be awkward, since everyone would look down on them, and if word got out, cause the ship to be shunned. So they send her off – not to be zogged (married to a new ship’s crew person), but to stay there for two years until she is of marriageable age, and then pick whomever she chooses, or chooses elsewhere. Victor, or Vico as he is known, feels the loss greatly and throws himself into his work, wanting to leave the ship due to the embarrassment he feels, even though nothing had happened, and they themselves were unaware of it. But then Janda’s little sister, Edimar, a talented new apprentice to her father in the Eye, spots the ship, tells Vico, so he can see if it is real before running to the captain. She should go to her father, but is afraid he will laugh it off, and she feels it poses a high level of danger to the ship and others. A plan is devised to try and warn a few other ships in the area, but things go wrong. First there is a mining ship, far out beyond their usual mining grounds of the Asteroid Belt, on a secret mission to test a new device that will allow them to mine rocks faster, and which bumps them from the rock, causing damage to their communications and power, and the presence of a pod that has shot off from the big ship and is entering when they think the Italians are going – they were going to try and rendezvous with them again to warn them. And thus follows the beginnings of the first Formic War. An excellent book, just the right amount of adventure, even with teens populating it, to find favor among adults and teens alike. Solid SF, cool aliens, from a master of it. Waiting for the next installment.

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