Speaker for the Dead: Wikis


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Speaker for the Dead  
Speaker dead cover.jpg
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Orson Scott Card
Country United States
Language English
Series Ender's Game series
Genre(s) Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date 1986
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 415 pp
ISBN 0-312-93738-5
OCLC Number 13201341
Preceded by Ender in Exile
Followed by Xenocide

Speaker for the Dead (1986) is a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card and an indirect sequel to the novel Ender's Game. This book takes place around the year 5270, some 3,000 years after the events in Ender's Game. However, due to relativistic space travel Ender himself (who now goes by his real name Andrew Wiggin or by his title "Speaker for the Dead") is only about 35 years old.

This is the first book to talk about Starways Congress, a high standpoint Legislation for the human colonies. It is the first to fully mention the Hundred Worlds, 100 planets which humans colonized which are tightly intertwined by the xenocided Buggers' old Ansible technology. It also showed Ender's sister's terms for life forms, such as Varelse (this is Swedish for 'being', or 'living creature').

Like Ender's Game, the book won the Nebula Award in 1986,[1] and the Hugo Award in 1987,[2] making Card the first author to win both these awards in two consecutive years. Speaker for the Dead was published in a slightly revised edition in 1991. It was followed by Xenocide and Children of the Mind.


Plot summary



On Novinha's request for a Speaker, Andrew Wiggin leaves for Lusitania, a colony turned into a virtual prison, with its expansion severely limited and its whole existence devoted to the work of xenologers who study the Pequeninos, the first sentient beings found since the destruction of Formics. Lusitania itself is remarkably lacking in biodiversity, featuring thousands of unfilled ecological niches. The other outstanding feature of Lusitania is the Descolada, a native virus which almost wipes out the colony, until husband-and-wife biologists Gusta and Cida succeed in developing counters. Unfortunately, they didn't find the cure soon enough to save themselves, leaving orphaned daughter Novinha to strike out for herself...[3]


At the age of thirteen, Novinha, a cold and distant girl, successfully petitions to be made the official biologist of the colony (roughly the equivalent of a master's degree); from then on, she contributes to the work of father-and-son xenologers (alien anthropology) Pipo and Libo, and for a short time there is family and camaraderie. One day, however, she makes a discovery about the descolada—that it's in every native lifeform—and Pipo rushes out to talk to the piggies about the discovery without telling her or Libo why it's important. They can't figure it out on their own, and never learn—a few hours later, Pipo is found vivisected in the grass; his corpse does not even have the benefit of a tree (The symbol of honor placed among all dead piggies). Novinha erases all the lab work, but cannot delete the information itself due to regulations; Libo demands to see it, but even their love for each other will not make her let him see it—it appears to be a secret the piggies will kill to keep. Now Novinha is determined to ensure they never marry, the way they always planned to: for if they do, Libo will have access to those locked files and, Novinha fears, will share the same fate as his father. In anguish, Novinha calls for a Speaker for the Dead, hoping beyond hope that perhaps the original Speaker may arrive, to make sense of Pipo's death—and maybe of her life.

Ender/Andrew Wiggin

Andrew Wiggin doesn't dare let himself be known as Ender anymore; the name is practically an expletive. Ender decides to leave his sister Valentine behind (she is married and pregnant) after traveling with her for many years. He leaves as soon as possible. He arrives on Lusitania after twenty-two years in transit (only around two weeks to him) to discover that Novinha has canceled her call, or rather tried to, as a call for a speaker cannot legally be canceled after the speaker has begun the journey. However, two others have called, making Ender's trip not entirely in vain: they are Novinha's eldest son Miro, calling for someone to speak the death of Libo, who was killed the same way his father was; and Novinha's eldest daughter Ela, calling for someone to speak the death of Novinha's husband Marcos Ribeira, who died not six weeks ago from a terminal disease. Besides attempting to unravel the question of why Novinha married Marcão when she really loved Libo (Marcão was sterile, and a quick genetic scan on Jane's part reveals that Novinha's children are all, in fact, Libo's), Ender also takes responsibility for attempting to heal the Ribeira family, and manages to adopt (or perhaps is adopted by) most of the children within their first meeting. He also takes a strong interest in the pequeninos, and eventually (in direct violation of Starways Congress law) meets with them in person. The Hive Queen has also managed to make contact with the pequeninos philotically, and has told them a number of things—including the fact that "Andrew Wiggin" is not only the original Speaker for the Dead, but the original Xenocide as well, which romantically involved Zenadors (a shortened form of the word xenologists) Miro and Ouanda do not believe. The Hive Queen very emphatically wants to be revived and freed on Lusitania. Finally, in an effort to help Ender, Jane deliberately reveals to Starways Congress that Miro and Ouanda, continuing the legacy of Ouanda's dead father Libo, have been deliberately introducing new technology into the piggy lifestyle. Both Zenadors are called away to the nearest world for trial (a journey that would take twenty-two years), the colony's charter is revoked, and all humans are ordered to evacuate posthaste, leaving no sign of ever having been there.

The Speaking

Ender holds a public speaking for Marcão, Novinha's late husband. However, Ender cannot but help reveal secrets from the lives of Libo, Pipo, and even Novinha herself as their lives were all so delicately bound together by guilt, deception, and love. The Speaker explains how Novinha blames herself for Pipo's death, and underwent a life of suffering and deception—marrying Marcão so that to prevent Libo from accessing the information which killed Pipo, but secretly trysting with Libo—because their love for each other never truly died. The meaning of Pipo's and Libo's murders come out as well: the trees are the "third stage" in the life of the piggies. Trees grown from piggies killed normally become brothertrees, but the ritually dissected ones are done so in order to make them fathertrees—sentient, living trees that are, unlike animal pequeninos, capable of reproduction (the descolada is proved to be instrumental in these transformations). Finally, the Speaker for the Dead is able to work out a treaty with the piggies, so that humans and pequeninos might live in peace. Unfortunately, it is not without cost: Miro, distraught to learn that Ouanda, his girlfriend in secret, is actually his sister, attempts to cross the fence, which separates the humans from the piggies, and suffers significant neurological damage. With no other way to save him, the colony declares itself in rebellion, Jane shuts off outside ansible contact, Miro is rescued, and Ender enters the forest to negotiate the aforementioned treaty. He signs it "Ender Wiggin," and for the first time in his life, someone (Novinha) is prepared to receive the Xenocide with compassion instead of revulsion.

Valentine and her family plan to come to Lusitania to help out in the rebellion, aided by Jane; Miro, with his crippled body, is sent into space to meet them; the Hive Queen is released, ready to begin the continuation of her species; and Ender marries Novinha.

Meaning of the term "Speaker for the Dead"

In this novel's precursor, Ender in Exile, the last surviving member of the 'the Buggers' contacts the lead character (Ender Wiggin), who had unwittingly wiped out the rest of the species. Ender tells the story of the Buggers as it is related to him, and publishes it as The Hive Queen under the pseudonym "Speaker for the Dead." The audience of The Hive Queen is not aware of the identity of the author (or that the work is factual and not speculative). However, Hegemon Peter Wiggin (Ender's brother) recognized the writing and requested that Ender also act as 'his' "Speaker". Ender complies with the request by writing a second book titled The Hegemon, giving a parallel, but uniquely human, perspective to the ideas and lessons of "The Hive Queen".

The two books become classics and inspire the rise of a movement of Speakers for the Dead. The movement is not a religion, although Speakers are treated with the respect accorded to a priest or cleric. Any citizen has the legal right to summon a Speaker (or a priest of any faith, which Speakers are legally considered) to mark the death of a family member. Speakers research the dead person's life and give a speech that attempts to speak for them, describing the person's life as he or she tried to live it. This speech is not given in order to persuade the audience to condemn or forgive the deceased, but rather a way to understand the person as a whole, including any flaws or misdeeds.

The novel begins 3,081 years after the events of the first book, by which time the works of The Hive Queen and The Hegemon have caused the human race to let go of its hatred of the Buggers and instead revile Ender as "The Xenocide", who exterminated an entire species. Ender himself, now using his real name of Andrew Wiggin, is still alive due to relativistic space travel, and still acting as a Speaker for the Dead. No one connects "Andrew Wiggin" with "Ender Wiggin", nor do they connect him (as "Andrew" or "Ender") with the original Speaker for the Dead.

Relation to Ender's Game

Whereas the previous novel was hard science fiction with armies and space warfare, Speaker for the Dead is philosophical in nature, although it still advances a xenology for the planetary setting unique in Science Fiction. Its story finds Andrew in a human colony on the colony planet Lusitania, believed to be the only remaining planet in Card's universe with an intelligent alien race after the xenocide of the "Buggers" in Ender's Game. The novel deals with the difficult relationship between the humans and the "piggies" (or "pequeninos", since the action is set in a Catholic Portuguese research installation) and with Andrew's attempts to bring peace to a brilliant but troubled family whose history is intertwined with that of the pequeninos.

The Pequeninos

The Pequeninos (also known as "piggies") are a native species on Lusitania. They are the only sentient alien species discovered since the xenocide of the buggers. Many provisions are taken by the Starways Congress to prevent contaminating the Pequeninos culture with any human technological advances or human culture. At the beginning, not much is known about them other than that they worship the trees and call the trees their fathers. Later on in the book, it is learned that the pequeninos have what is called a "third life", where they are reborn as trees. Only when they are reborn are they able to reproduce. The pequeninos have a special language reserved for speaking to the trees, and the trees can be manipulated to build wooden structures and tools as a favor to the piggies.

Characters in Speaker for the Dead


Nebula Award winner, 1986[1]
Hugo Award winner, 1987[2]
Locus Award winner, 1987[2]
John W. Campbell Memorial Award nominee, 1987[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1986. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d "1987 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1987. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  3. ^ Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card, pp. 5-7

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
Hugo Award for Best Novel
Succeeded by
The Uplift War
by David Brin
Preceded by
Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
Nebula Award for Best Novel
Succeeded by
The Falling Woman
by Pat Murphy


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Speaker for the Dead (1986) is a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card and a sequel to the novel Ender's Game.

  • Sickness and healing are in every heart. Death and deliverance are in every hand.
  • The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and therefore should be treated with great caution.
  • This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we really believe in, and those we never think to question.
    • Andrew Wiggin
  • No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.
  • Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.
  • The best parts of my intellectual life are tangential, in areas outside my expertise. I supposed because within my area of expertise, the regulations they have placed upon me make it impossible to know or understand anything.
  • I understood that she didn’t want to be liked. As if she were a visitor who expected to go back home any day.
  • You are the one human being who is capable of understanding the alien mind, because you are the alien mind; you know what it is to be unhuman because there’s never been any human group that gave you credentials as a bona fide homo sapien.
  • Anthropology is never an exact science; the observer never experiences the same culture as the participant.
  • His eyes were seductive with understanding.
  • Marriage is not a covenant between a man and a woman; even the beasts cleave together and produce their young. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman on one side and their community on the other.
  • Don’t ever try to teach me about good and evil. I've been there; you’ve seen nothing but the map.
  • My, but I miss the days when we never talked to each other for weeks at a time.
  • Ignorance and deception can’t save anybody. Knowing saves them.
  • It wasn’t a matter of confession, penance, and absolution, like the priests offered. It was something else entirely. Telling the story of who she was, and then realizing that she was no longer the same person. That she had made a mistake, and the mistake had changed her, now she had become someone else, someone less afraid, someone more compassionate.
  • I speak to everyone in the language they understand. That isn’t being slick. It’s being clear.
  • There’s so much that we don’t understand. And so much more that you don’t understand. We should tell each other more.
  • If people only react to the way that others treat them, then nobody is responsible for anything. If your sins are not your own to choose, then how can you repent?
  • It’s the dream of every living creature. The desire that is the very root of life itself: to grow until all the space you can see is part of you, under your control. It’s the desire for greatness. There are two ways, though, to fulfill it. One way is to kill anything that is not yourself, to swallow it up or destroy it, until nothing is left to oppose you.
  • I’m not one to despise other people for their sins. I haven’t found one yet, that I didn’t say to myself, I’ve done worse than this.
  • Once you know what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.
  • As long as you keep getting born, it’s ok to die sometimes.
  • "There are worse reasons to die, than to die because you cannot bear to kill." "What about someone who can’t kill, and can’t die, and can’t live, either?" "Don’t deceive yourself. You’ll do all three someday."
  • A question isn't an argument, unless you think you know my answer.
  • He loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow.
  • "You don’t know how much pain it will cause if all the secrets come out." "Take a look at my family. How can the truth cause any more pain than the secrets have already caused?"
  • He was telling the truth, the story you wouldn't think to doubt because it’s taken for granted.
  • I think you can’t possibly know the truth about somebody unless you love them.
  • I knew her so well that I loved her, or maybe I loved her so well that I knew her.
  • He is dangerous, the infidel, the anti-Christ, he walks brazenly into places in my heart that I had kept as holy ground, where no one else was ever permitted to stand.
  • These people came for entertainment, but they're your targets; you will pierce them to the hearts.
  • If you really believed that someone was perfect in heart... So righteous that to live another day could only cause them to be less perfect, then wouldn't it be a good thing for them if they were killed and taken directly into heaven?
  • "Are you ready to reveal yourself to the rest of humanity?"
    "I’ve always been ready. The question is, are they ready to know me?"
  • I carry the seeds of death with me and plant them wherever I linger long enough to love. My parents died so others could live; now I live, so others must die.
  • [They] knew each other so well that there was often nothing to say. But without her there, [he] grew impatient with his own thoughts; they never came to a point, because there was no one to tell them to.
  • "I want to understand everything," said Miro. "I want to know everything and put it all together to see what it means."
    "Excellent project," she said. "It will look very good on your resume."
  • We become one tribe because we say we're one tribe.
    • Spoken by Human to Ender.
  • But they knew from that day forward who the piggies were, just as the readers of the Hive Queen had understood the buggers, and the readers of the Hegemon had understood humankind in its endless quest for greatness in a wilderness of separation and suspicion.

Related topics

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Speaker for the Dead  
Author Orson Scott Card
Country United States
Language English
Series Ender's Game series
Genre(s) Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Make date 1986
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 415 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-312-93738-5
Sequel to Ender's Game
Prequel to Xenocide

Speaker for the Dead (1986) is a science fiction book that is written by Orson Scott Card. It is a sequel to the novel Ender's Game, and takes place around the year 5135, some 3,000 years after the events in Ender's Game. Because of space travel, the main character Ender is only about 35 years old.

Like Ender's Game, the book won the Hugo Award (1987) and Nebula Award (1986) for outstanding science fiction novel, making Card the first writer to win both of these awards two times in a row. Speaker for the Dead was updated in 1991. It was followed by Xenocide and Children of the Mind.

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