Speaker For The Dead Summary

Orson Scott Card

Speaker For The Dead

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Speaker For The Dead Summary

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Speaker for the Dead (1986) is the second of the five-novel Ender Series by Orson Scott Card. The sci-fi adventure Speaker for the Dead is an indirect sequel to Ender’s Game.

In the previous novel, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was a brilliant and compassionate young man who trained at the Battle School. His tactical brilliance identified him as a leader, but his greatest strength was his empathy for others. During the Bugger War, Ender unintentionally commanded the Earth’s military forces to exterminate an alien race known as the Buggers. The Buggers had killed millions of humans, but Ender was responsible for the “xenocide” of the Formic species. Formics were an insect-like alien species also known as Buggers. After the terrible Bugger War, Ender Wiggin disappeared.

This novel is set 3,000 Earth years after the Bugger War. Due to the difference in space and earth time, Ender is still alive and is now 25 years old. Humans travel by light-speed to discover new plants to colonize, and have already colonized planets where the Buggers once lived. The Starways Congress, a government body, rules over all the human colonies. This is challenging due to the enormous distances between star systems.

As a “Speaker for the Dead,” Ender travels the universe conducting special services called “speakings.” During speakings, he tells the deceased person’s life story so that others can understand the significance of that person’s life. Using the pseudonym “Speaker for the Dead,” Ender writes a book called The Hive Queen. The book tells the truth about what happened during the war and about the life and true nature of the Formics. Much of this Ender learned from the dormant Formic queen, who Ender secretly carries with him. Ender promised the queen he would help find a new home to restart the Formic species. The humans, enraged by Ender’s revelations, turn their feelings of hatred on Ender, who becomes known as “The Xenocide.” They no longer hate their former enemies, the Buggers. No one realizes that the Speaker for the Dead is Ender.

Ender, with the dormant Formic queen at his side, travels the universe looking for a new home for her species. The planet of Lusitania is newly populated by a colony of Portuguese Catholics. Shortly after the start of a human colony on the planet, the colonists die from the Descolada virus. A cure has not yet been discovered. On Lusitania, a new alien race known as Porquinhos is found. They are mammalian forest dwellers with a matriarchal society. They seem both peaceful and friendly. Due to their resemblance to pigs, the aliens are known as Piggies.

The Starways Congress will only allow a few scientists studying the aliens to have minimal contact. Humans are under strict orders not to give the aliens information about human technology or civilization. This is all part of an effort to avoid any future violence between humans and aliens. Xenobiologists on the Lusitania colony receive permission to study the new alien race. One, named Pipo, feels honored to study the Porquinhos. Pipo conducts the study with his son, Libo, and a village girl named Novinha, who is interested in becoming a xenobiologist. Due to the restrictions, Pipo is not able to learn much about the Porquinhos. In their study, Novinha discovers that a cure for the Descolada virus which killed her parents exists on the planet.

Pipo goes to share news about the cure with the Piggies. Nonvinha and Libo discover that Pipo has been disemboweled and murdered by the Piggies. Novinha fears that her discovery led to Pipo’s murder and keeps the cure a secret. In a state of panic, the colonists build electric fence barriers around their colony. They live like prisoners surrounded by the fence. Only those investigating the murder leave the safety of the colony.

To learn more about Pipo’s murder, Novinha requests a Speaker for the Dead. Ender, as Speaker for the Dead, travels to Lusitania to investigate the murder. He also hopes the planet might be the ideal place for the Formic species to begin again with the release of the hive queen. Due to the distances involved, it takes Ender 20 years to travel to the planet. During these 20 years, Novinha has grown up, married, and had six children. She is no longer interested in having a Speaker for the Dead. Novinha’s husband died of a genetic disease, and Libo died in the same manner as his father. Novinha’s children want the Speaker for the Dead to learn about the deaths of both their father and Libo.

Ender learns truths about both the new alien species and about the human colonists who live on the planet. Libo is the real father of Novinha’s children. Ender also discovers that the Pipo and Libo’s murders were part of a ceremony within the Piggie culture that allows their race to reproduce. The Piggies were trying to honor, not harm, Pipo and Libo. Ender, using his own name, works out a peace treaty between the humans and the Piggies. He marries Novinha, whom he fell in love with over the course of the investigation. He also plants the Hive Queen on the planet to re-establish the Formic species.