Alphabooks: B is for Best Sequel

B: Best Sequel Ever

I’m trying my level best not to be frightened by that superlative. The best sequel I can think of (at present) is not, in the strict sense, a sequel at all: that is, it is not a plot which takes place, in its entirety, after the events of an earlier book.

But it does follow it. It follows right along, the captain to a major. Or lieutenant-general to his general, as the case may be.

EGEnders Shadow

Whatever rank might be appropriate, I mean Ender’s Shadow. This is a parallax, or parallel story, following the setting of Ender’s Game: an alien invasion is headed for Earth, children all over are tested to see whether they can be trained into commanders at the off-planet Battle School, and the closer the invasion gets, the faster the training schedule. But rather than fixing on Ender Wiggin (boy soldier, innate commander, deadly victor), it focuses on Bean (starving orphan, genetically improbable, genius).

It could be said that Bean follows in Ender’s wake; it could also be said that Ender’s path would not have gone where it did unless Bean followed him, directing certain aspects of Ender’s years in and after Battle School: a most ingenious paradox. Bean’s place among Ender’s crew, in turn, came about because of events well before Ender’s Game began.

The thing is, Ender’s Shadow is not the only story following Ender’s Game. Both books are followed (chronologically and entirely) by a series, and in each series – the Ender Saga and the Shadow Saga – Card takes the world he’s designed and carries it to its logical conclusion. The political storm brewing in Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow is carried out on Earth in the Shadow Saga: when the Battle School students are returned to Earth, they are immediately used as strategists for the political powers-that-be there. The Ender Saga runs a different direction: traveling at relativistic speeds makes for a story that continues 3 millenia later.

Certainly the trappings of the story – instant interstellar communication, faster-than-light travel, genetic manipulation, non-human intelligences, etc. – help make it fascinating.  But the extraordinary thing about these stories is the philosophical questions they raise, and how they plumb the depths of understanding, sacrifice, friendship, love, and life.

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6 thoughts on “Alphabooks: B is for Best Sequel

  1. I would actually vote for Speaker for the Dead, but I’ll acknowledge the genius and beauty of Ender’s Shadow, which would be my Third (haha, see what I did there?) favorite in the series.

    Achilles is the most terrifying villain I’ve ever come across in fiction, anywhere. He made such an impression on me that even now, when I happen upon the name of the Greek hero, I pronounce it a-SHEEL.

    • The first time I read Speaker for the Dead, it gave me serious whiplash – such a drastic change in time and scenery and character focus! But, you know, not so bad that I put it down for *anything.* I should reread them; there were a lot of concepts that called for more reflection.

      Call me an unforgiving beast, but…Achilles and his whole fortune-turns-in-my-favor-so-I’m-setting-things-aright shtick creeps me the heck out. I would have left him strung up in the tunnel, or possibly done the thing with the brick right from the start.

    • There’s a post I once saw on Tumblr about various things being fanfiction…where was it…

      …okay, so there’s this one (http://is.gd/x8gFY9) which starts out kind of vulgar and shouty in its excitement, but is more or less correct (especially when the last reblogger corrects the less-accurate bits).

      Then there’s this (http://is.gd/VeJTws) which is closer to what I was looking for but still not quite right.

      And then there’s this person’s (http://is.gd/K6NA5J) holding forth, which is long and fascinating.

      Basically, everything is fanfiction and nothing hurts.

  2. Pingback: Alphabetical Promptings | Egotist's Club

  3. I need to read this series. I really, really do.

    My current pick would be (shocker) Lord of the Rings. True, Tolkien didn’t really plan a sequel to The Hobbit, but dang…

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