Orson Scott Card takes his popular Ender series back into space with "Shadows in Flight," a direct sequel to "Shadow of the Giant," and the 11th novel in the science fiction series.
And while the story takes place on a smaller stage than the previous "Shadow" books, "Shadows in Flight" is a positive look at humanity's will to survive and the value of family.
The first half of the story takes place on the spaceship in which Julian Delphiki, who was introduced to readers as Bean in the original "Ender's Game," and three of his children travel through space while scientists on Earth search for a cure to the genetic disorder that threatens their lives.
The four travelers share an engineered genetic disorder that gives them extraordinary intelligence, but condemns them to short lives in which their bodies never cease growing. Their near-light-speed space flight means that while Bean and his children have aged five years since they fled into space, 421 years of scientific research on earth has failed to find a solution to this genetic puzzle.
For Bean, time is running out, and he is looking for a planet where his three hyper-intelligent 6-year-old children can stop traveling through space and found a civilization.
However, as the ship carrying the small group nears a planet suited for just that purpose, the Delphikis make contact with an alien space vessel which may have grave consequences not just for the this small family, but all humanity.
To uncover the mystery of this alien ship, the children must overcome sibling rivalries and learn to work together.
Starting with "Ender's Game," one of the most popular science fiction stories ever, Card has demonstrated a remarkable ability to take the reader inside the heads of the brilliant children that populate these books. In "Shadows in Flight," the author does a masterful job of creating three children with distinct personalities.
He also accomplishes the difficult task of developing a believable set of family dynamics that might develop in a group of four individuals living in cramped quarters for four years — and demonstrates a keen understanding of human nature in the process.
"Shadows in Flight" is a positive look at the power of a father's love and the strength of family bonds. It is a welcome addition to the Ender series which has been growing now for more than a quarter of a century.
Marc Haddock has been a newspaperman for 35 years and is currently a marketing writer for Xactware. He lives in American Fork.