cover image Children of the Fleet

Children of the Fleet

Orson Scott Card. Tor, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7704-3

Card returns to the universe of his legendary Ender saga with a novel whose unresolved intrigues hold forth the enticing prospect of future elaborations. The Formic Wars that shaped the plots of earlier novels in the series and made Ender Wiggin their reluctant hero have ended, and Earth now looks to change the mission of its International Fleet from combat training to colonization of the stars. Ten-year-old Dabeet Ochoa, an intellectually precocious and insufferably arrogant “child of the Fleet” whose father is probably a high-ranking officer, is admitted as a student to Fleet School. Before he can attend, he’s kidnapped by desperate smugglers who threaten his mother’s life and force Dabeet to join their plot to compromise the Fleet School space station. Card builds a suspenseful mood of paranoia as Dabeet goes through his early days of training, uncertain whether the smugglers’ threat is sincere or just a ruse perpetrated by Fleet higher-ups to stimulate his skills at creative problem-solving. Card takes a risk by making his main character “an obnoxious little self-obsessed twit” (in Ender’s words), but the social skills that Dabeet gradually and grudgingly develops set up a thrilling climax in the best space opera tradition and lay the groundwork for future chronicles. Series fans will enjoy this installment. (Oct.)