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Shadows in Flight
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Shadows in Flight

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Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor, 2012
Series: Ender's Universe: Ender's Shadow: Book 5
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Space Exploration
Hard SF
Human Development
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Synopsis

Ender’s Shadow explores the stars in this all-new novel...

At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children--the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten--a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.

For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders--the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony.


Excerpt

Chapter 1:
"In the Giant's Shadow"

The starship Herodotus left Earth in 2210 with four passengers. It accelerated nearly to lightspeed as quickly as it could, and then stayed at that speed, letting relativity do its work.

On Herodotus, just over five years had passed; it had been 421 years on Earth.

On Herodotus, the three thirteen- month- old babies had turned into six- year- olds, and the Giant had outlived his life expectancy by two years.

On Earth, starships had been launched to found ninetythree colonies, beginning with the worlds once colonized by the Formics and spreading to other habitable planets as soon as they were found.

On Herodotus, the six- year- old children were small for their age, but brilliant beyond their years, as the Giant had been when he was little, for in all four of them, Anton's Key had been turned, a genetic defect and a genetic enhancement at the same time. Their intelligence was beyond the level of savants in every subject matter, without any of the debilitations of autism. But their bodies never stopped growing. They were small now, but by age twentytwo, they would be the size of the Giant, and the Giant would be long dead. For he was dying, and when he died, the children would be alone.

In the ansible room of Herodotus, Andrew "Ender" Delphiki sat perched on three books atop a seat designed for adults. This was how the children operated the main computer that processed communication through the ansible, the instant communicator that kept Herodotus linked to all the computer networks of the ninety- four worlds of Starways Congress.

Ender was reviewing a research report on genetic therapy that showed some promise, when Carlotta came into the ansible room. "Sergeant wants a sibmoot."

"You found me," said Ender. "So can he."

Carlotta looked over his shoulder at the holodisplay. "Why do you bother?" she said. "There's no cure. Nobody's even looking for it anymore."

"The cure is for us all to die," said Ender. "Then Anton syndrome disappears from the human species."

"We'll die eventually," said Carlotta. "The Giant is dying now."

"You know that's all Sergeant wants to talk about."

"Well, we have to talk about it, don't we?"

"Not really. It'll happen, and then we'll deal with it." Ender did not want to think about the Giant's death. It was overdue, but as long as the Giant lived, Ender could hope to save him. Or at least bring him good news before he died.

"We can't talk in front of the Giant," said Carlotta.

"He's not here in the ansible room," said Ender.

"You know he can hear us here if he wants."

The more time Carlotta spent with Sergeant, the more she sounded like him. Paranoid. The Giant is listening.

"If he's hearing us now, he knows we're having a meeting, and what it's about, and so he'll listen wherever we are."

"Sergeant feels better about it when we take precautions."

"I feel better when I'm allowed to do my work."

"Nobody in the universe has Anton syndrome except us," Carlotta said, "so the researchers have all stopped working on it even though there's perpetual funding. Get over it."

"They've stopped and I haven't," said Ender.

"How can you research it without lab equipment, without test subjects, without anything?"

"I have this incredibly brilliant mind," said Ender cheerfully. "I look at all the genetic research they're doing and I'm connecting it with what we already know about Anton's Key from back in the days when top scientists were working hard on the problem. I connect things that the humans could never see."

"We're humans," said Carlotta wearily.

"Our children won't be, if I can help it," said Ender.

" 'Our children' is a concept that will never have a realworld example," said Carlotta. "I'm not mating with either of my male sibs, which includes you. Period. Ever. It makes me want to puke."

"The idea of sex is what makes you puke," said Ender. "But I'm not talking about 'our children' in the sense of any of us reproducing together. I'm talking about the children we'll have when we rejoin the human race. Not the normal children, like our long- dead sibs who stayed with Mother and mated and had human children of their own. I'm talking about the children with turned Keys, the children who are little and smart like us. If I can find a way to cure them—"

"The cure is to discard all the children like us, and keep the normal ones, and poof, Anton syndrome is gone." Carlotta always came back to the same argument.

"That's not a cure, that's extinction of our new species."

"We're not a species if we can still interbreed with humans."

"We're a species as soon as we find a way to pass along our brilliant minds without the fatal giantism."

"The Giant's supposedly as brilliant as we are. Let him work on Anton's Key. Now come along so Sergeant doesn't get mad."

"We can't let Sergeant boss us around just because he gets so angry when we don't obey."

"Oh, brave talk," said Carlotta. "You're always the first to give in."

"Not at this moment."

"If Sergeant walked in here himself, you'd apologize and drop everything and come. You're only delaying because you're not afraid to annoy me."

"Just as you're not afraid to annoy me."

"Come on."

"Where? I'll join you later."

"If I say it, the Giant will listen in."

"The Giant will track us anyway. If Sergeant is right and the Giant spies on us all the time, then there's nowhere to hide anyway."

"Sergeant thinks there is."

"And Sergeant's always right."

"Sergeant might be right and we can humor him and it costs us nothing."

"I hate crawling through the air ducts," said Ender. "You two love it, and that's fine, but I hate it."

"Sergeant is being so nice today that he picked a place we can get to without going through ducts."

"Where?"

"If I tell you, I have to kill you," said Carlotta.

"Every minute you take me away from my genetic research you're bringing us that much closer to death."

"You already made your point, and it's an excellent point, and I'm ignoring you because you are coming to our meeting if I have to drag you there in small pieces."

"If you regard me as expendable, have the meeting without me."

"Will you abide by whatever Sergeant and I decide?"

"If by 'abide by' you mean 'ignore completely,' then yes. That's what your plans deserve."

"We haven't made plans yet."

"Today. You haven't made plans yet today."

"Our other plans all failed because you didn't follow them."

"I followed every plan I agreed with."

"We outvoted you, Ender."

"That's why I never agreed to majority rule."

"Who's in charge, then?"

"Nobody. The Giant."

"He can't leave the cargo bay. He's not in charge of anything."

"Then why are you and Sergeant so afraid he might be listening in?"

"Because all he cares about is us, and he has nothing to do but spy on us."

"He does research, just like me," said Ender.

"That's what I'm afraid of. Results: zero. Time wasted: all of it."

"You won't feel that way when I come up with the invasovirus that carries the cure to our giantism into every cell of your body and allows you to reach a normal human height and stop growing."

"With my luck, you'll switch off Anton's Key and make us all stupid."

"Normal humans aren't stupid. They're just normal."

"And they forgot us," said Carlotta bitterly. "If they saw us again, they'd think we were nothing but children."

"We are children."

"Children our age are just learning to read and write and do their numbers," said Carlotta. "We are more than a quarter of the way through our expected life span. We're the equivalent of twenty- five years old, in their species."

Ender hated it when she threw his own arguments back at him. He was the one who argued that they were a new species, the next stage in human evolution, Homo antoninis, or perhaps Homo leguminensis, after the Giant, who had used the name "Bean" for most of his childhood. "They won't see us again, so they won't treat us like children," said Ender. "I'm not content with a life span of twenty years, nor with death by overgrowing the capacity of our own hearts. I don't intend to die gasping for breath while my brain dies because my heart can't get enough blood to it. I have work to do and an absol...

Copyright © 2012 by Orson Scott Card


Reviews

Shadows in Flight

- handwasher
  (4/3/2013)
Shadows in Flight

- Thomcat
  (10/24/2014)
Shadows in Flight

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  (9/26/2016)

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