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A hundred years before Ender's Game, humanity is slowly making its way out to the planets of the solar system, exploring and mining asteroids.

The ship El Cavador is far from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. When the ship's telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, they're unsure what to make of it.

Little do they know that this object is the most important thing to happen to the human race in a million years. It's humanity's first contact with an alien race. The First Formic War is about to begin.


368 pages, Hardcover

First published July 1, 2012

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About the author

Orson Scott Card

861 books18.9k followers
Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.

Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He recently began a long-term position as a professor of writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.

Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.

For further details, see the author's Wikipedia page.
For an ordered list of the author's works, see Wikipedia's List of works by Orson Scott Card.


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Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,695 reviews875 followers
August 5, 2012
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

Written as a prequel to the well-loved Ender's Game, Johnston's Earth Unaware tries to fill in some of the holes and unexplored history of the "Enderverse" and the first Formic War that led to Battle School, and Ender's adventures in vanquishing the "hormigas"/Formics. When this book works the most, it succeeds predominately on misplaced nostalgia for the earlier-published-but-later-in-the-chronology novels like Ender's Game, Xenophobe, Children of the Mind, etc. I found Earth Unaware to be a weak, ghost-written book that lacks the easy charisma, dynamic characters, and unique storyline that the other books possessed in abundance and which made them so memorable.

There are obviously some good, interesting ideas at play here (the asteroid mining and the cultures that sprout up around them [free miners versus corporations, etc.]) but Aaron Johnston is primarily a graphic novelist, and it shows quite obviously here. Nothing about the novel is realized to its full potential -- from characters to plot to even the action, almost all about Earth Unaware felt contrived, weak, and overdone all at the same time. This is a superficial and shallow adaptation of Ender and the world's backstory, obviously written primarily to lure in fans of Ender's Game and its subsequent sequels. The plot is minimal, the characters are in dire need of more/or a rounded personality (or in Wit's case, a connection to the actual story. His Earth-bound plot will surely coincide with the events of the sequels, but for Earth Unaware, they are more filler than anything else, Mazer Rackham cameo or not.)

Wonky pacing, uneven and unconnected storylines, cliched or predictable characters, and more made this a miss for me. The few things I found interesting were often and quickly glossed over to focus on the less developed ideas and characters. There are people who will absolutely love this and gush over the finally explained and explored first contact with the Formics, but Earth Unaware is nowhere near the league of Ender's Game in any area. This review is much shorter than most, but my disappointment with this and OSC's raging homophobia make it almost impossible for an impartial thought.

And other thoughts:

When I first read Ender's Game, I was 10. It was my first scifi novel and Ender was a protagonist seemingly created just for me to love. I still love it to this day, but more for nostalgia and my first sense of how powerful children could be than for anything else. It was revelatory: kids can be heroes and save the world too! Now that I'm older, wiser, and more exposed to the kind of hate that OSC regularly spews towards homosexuals, I find myself less and less inclined to pick up anything he's written (or was written for him.) I debated whether or not to even review this (though it's far from a glowing review) because I don't want to promote OSC in any way, shape or form, negatively or not. In this recent climate, among all these debates about author behavior and how it affects readers, I find it hard to justify my read of this/these books. Sure, OSC has never attacked a negative review or reviewer (to my knowledge, but I certainly try to ignore anything that comes out of his mouth at this point), but how authors behave does impact their work and those who read it.

As I was reading Speechless by Hannah Harrington right after this novel, it made me think about silent compliance, ignoring the bad stuff, and just doing what everyone else does for the sake of not making waves. I'm done, I'm gonna make my own wave about this; I just can't support an author who thinks it's right to discriminate against and dehumanize other people. I was granted an ARC of this, but you can bet this author will never see another penny of my cash. I won't be finishing the First Formic War series, and though I thank TOR for the generosity of reading the ARC, even an ARC of the sequel won't tempt me. Goodbye, OSC. I will still reread Ender, but I won't recommend it anyone anymore.

So long, Enderverse, and thanks for all the fish.
214 reviews8 followers
January 20, 2013
As a huge fan of the Enderverse, I knew that I would like Earth Unaware. I was not aware (hah!) of how *much* I would like it- I found it gripping and nearly impossible to put down.

Like Michael Flynn's "Wreck of the River of Stars", there is no question how the Formica wars turn out: very, very badly for the humans. We know that from the basic premise of the universe. So knowing the doom that is coming could lend a funereal tone to the work, but in Card and Johnston's hands it does not. The characters are compelling, and of course we have no idea *which* people will live through these doomed battles, but their motivations are clear and relatable.

One extremely good thing about the book is that there is no reason at all that one need have read "Ender's Game" first: this does stand on its own, and while there are a few references to things and people who will become significant, the references are not the crucial part- all of them have perfectly valid in-story reasons for being there.

Excellent, and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,971 reviews850 followers
October 10, 2021
Periódicamente vuelvo a Card.
Le descubrí, cómo no, con su “Juego de Ender” allá por el 1992. Un 10 redondo. El siguiente de la saga lo leí a continuación. Un 8, no está mal. Perro es que seguí con la lectura de “Maestro Cantor”. Otro 10. Evidentemente ese autor me gustaba.

Y desde entonces hasta ahora han caído 46 libros suyos, cuya nota media anda por el 8/10…¿Cómo no volver de vez en cuando a leerle?

Y en mi actual periodo de escoger lecturas de CF poco afortunadas he vuelto a Card con esta precuela de la saga de Ender, donde se dan los primeros contactos con los fórmicos.

Se puede leer de forma totalmente independiente de esa saga de Ender, conste. ¿Y? Pues un 8/10 basándonos sobre todo en su gran manejo de personajes. La ambientación (worldbuilding lo llaman ahora) es suficiente para la trama, sin tirar cohetes pero con un puntito de interés. NO es original pero funciona.

Este autor tiene oficio y la trama es suficientemente fluida y atractiva como para seguir y seguir leyendo. La cosa va de que hay naves de mineros libres por el cinturón de Kuiper y por allí anda también una “malvada” nave de una mega-corporación de la Tierra. Y hay un super cuerpo de élite reclutando nuevos miembros entre distintas fuerzas especiales de distintos países de la Tierra…y hay “algo” en ruta hacia la Tierra.

Y todo eso se enlaza muy bien apoyado en lo que he dicho:: un manejo de personajes muy bueno que los hace atractivos de leer en cada capítulo, cada uno con su POV como ya es habitual. ¿Y aparte de interesantes están bien construidos, tiene “cuerpo”? Suficiente. NO son geniales, pero suficiente. Como todos habréis leído “El juego de Ender” sabéis de qué os hablo. NO es maravillosa su construcción pero funciona.

Me pierde puntos el que se le ven varios “ramalazos” de su fe mormona. Creo que en su día ni los hubiese detectado pero hoy en día me molestan. Y eso de que en cuanto hay peligro hay que “salvar/proteger” a las mujeres pues eso, que hoy rechina.

Menos rollo: ¿Merece la pena o no? Pues sí, pero por detrás de muchas de sus otras obras. De las obras que he leído suyas hasta 15 se llevarían las 5 estrellas de GR. Al menos en su día, hoy no sé que nota tendrían si las releyera.

Cargo ya el siguiente de la serie en el Kindle, porque volveré al autor. Como siempre.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
November 19, 2012
I've read Ender's Game two or three times, and I love it. Needless to say, the fact that it was getting a prequel series filled me with curiosity and trepidation in about equal measures. While finding out about first contact with the aliens could be interesting, Card could definitely much it all up with his asshole opinions. Turns out, though, that this was mostly neither. Card didn't assault me with a religious message, but this book also just was not that good.

The first chapters of Earth Unaware are simply interminable. I cannot for the life of me fathom why Card and Johnston thought that it would be an awesome idea to start the book the way they did. Up until the time the aliens make an appearance and the action scenes begin, this book was incredibly boring.

The entire novel is told in alternating third person limited. Most of the time, the narration follows three main characters: Victor, Lem, and Wit. However, interspersed between these are brief sections from the points of view of other characters. These I found a bit obnoxious, particularly when the novel lost the nice orderly method of starting a new chapter for each new perspective. Also annoying is the fact that Wit's storyline never really syncs up with the others, though I do know why he's included.

Alright, now that you have the gist of it, you need to hear about the first chapter. We begin with Victor, a teenager and accomplished mechanic.When we meet him, he is in the midst of all of the angst. He and his second cousin, Alejandra, have been accused of inappropriate feelings for one another, much too close for cousins. Because of their improper closeness, Alejandra is being zogged, married off to someone on another mining ship.

Victor at first whines about the unfairness of this accusation, pissed off that no one understands that they are but friends. Then, he thinks of a time when Alejandra gave him 'a look,' and decides that she did have feelings for him. As he continues to ponder this, he decides that he too loves her, and that she has been sent away for the best, and that he too must leave El Cavador, their family's mining vessel, sometime soon because he cannot get over her surrounded by memories of her. Also, I feel like they must be trying to make some sort of statement, since, otherwise, the same feeling could have been established without their being related.

That is the entire first chapter. Honestly, I have NO clue whether Card and Johnston want people to root for the two of them or to be disgusted at the thought of second cousins in love or what. Worse still, it became apparent that this incredibly unpleasant plot device had been put in place solely to up the melodrama of the novel. This gives everyone a reason to mope about and be sad and do stupid things in an attempt to find her. All they do with her character is kill her off, without the reader ever meeting her. Later in the book, Victor even realizes that he didn't love her like that after all, a revelation that incensed me even more after having had to listen to so much of his weepy angst over their separation.

Another thing that bothered me about this opening and the novel in general was the sexism. When charges were brought against the two, Alejandra was sent away from her home to be married off hastily as punishment, and Victor had no change in status, except for extra sympathy from some and anger from Alejandra's father. Really? Apparently, future humans do not believe in the strength of women at all, having regressed from the current climate. With the notable exception of El Cavador's captain and a teenage girl who works the eye (which watches for threats to the ship), the women all stick to traditional female roles, like parenting. None get to help defend the ship. Two strong female characters do not make up for suggesting that in the future most women will be forced back into a powerless role. Also,

Lem, too, is annoying; all of his sections consist of his bitching and moaning about his daddy issues. *yawns* Wit was my favorite perspective, but it felt like Card and Johnston continually forgot he was there. Much was made in his introduction of the recruitment of Mazer Rackham, a name I recognize from Ender's Game, though I do not remember the significance, but nothing else is made of him for the rest of the book, which is incredibly sloppy.

If, however, you feel compelled to read everything set in the Enderverse, then I recommend audio over print, because I definitely think I would have had to DNF the physical book.

Macmillan Audio procured an almost full cast for this production, using a different voice actor for the different third person perspectives. Most of them do a pretty good job, though I really think they could have chosen better voice actors in several cases and done a better job with accents. The worst casting error in my opinion was Victor. He's supposed to be a teenager, but the voice actor sounds much older. The crew of El Cavador is hispanic, but only some of the voice actors used an accent when reading. In the cast of accents, it should really be all or nothing.

The best narration was done by the guy who voiced Wit. He has this incredibly deep voice that perfectly matched the gruff soldier. However, he also was a whiz with accents and could change the depth of his voice to match the different characters. It seems as though the producers knew this guy was the best, because he, for some reason, voiced for two characters' perspectives, while everyone else just voiced one. Sure, one of them only had a very short section, but, still, couldn't they hire someone for that?

Find more of my reviews, and other fun stuff, at A Reader of Fictions.
Profile Image for Scott.
26 reviews5 followers
October 5, 2012
I didn't have high expectations going into Earth Unaware. It's a collaboration, and even though Orson Scott Card's name is plastered on the front it's a good bet that Aaron Johnston did most of the writing. I wasn't particularly fond of their last collaboration, Invasive Procedures, where it felt (to me) like someone else writing a book based on an Orson Scott Card idea. For that matter, I haven't been overwhelmed by the recent Enderverse books such as Shadows in Flight and Ender in Exile.

Well, I'm pleased to say that Earth Unaware does feel like an Orson Scott Card book. But more importantly, it's a really good story. As a prequel, it begins to explain some of the technology and backstory that leads into Ender's Game, but it isn't a slave to those things. There's a whole new cast of characters to love (or love to hate!) and we're immersed in the frontier-like setting of the Kuiper belt on the outer rim of the solar system, where mining families scrape a living by harvesting metal from asteroids. Even before the Buggers (sorry, Formics) show up, there's plenty of conflict and difficult choices to make. And once they realize an alien ship is heading towards Earth, everything in their already complicated life is thrown into chaos. In other words, this isn't just filling a gap in the Enderverse backstory; this is good sci fi and a story that can stand on its own legs.

Well, it stands on its own relative to Ender's Game and the subsequent books. As far as the story of the Formic Wars, this is just the beginning. There is a bit of resolution, but Earth Unaware ends with the promise of all the biggest events still to come.
Profile Image for Unwisely.
1,397 reviews13 followers
October 26, 2012
I didn't know this book existed until a coworker dropped it on my desk. I might have been happier then. I have read an awful lot of Orson Scott Card, starting in college when I came across Ender's Game in college and read it through in one sitting. (I did not sleep, I did not eat, I did not go to class, just read until I was finished. Luckily I'm a quick reader so it was a one day thing.)

I was skeptical about the Shadow books, but they were fine. So I was willing to give this one a shot.

It is *terrible*. Super wooden dialogue, weird conceits (15 and 9 year old boys would be inventing amazing things, if only the fascist system didn't make them go to school!) There's a healthy heap of Mormon social roles/values, which I realize I am somewhat sensitized to, but didn't endear the book to me any further.

The worst part was that this didn't actually tell the whole prequel; it just started. Ugh. I doubt I'll be picking up any more.

(I found out from the end-notes that this novel was adapted from a comic book, which does make a little bit of sense with the weird structure/feel of the book.)
Profile Image for Nathan.
283 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2012
So many science issues it was distracting, either this book was written by the coaurhor with no real oversight by Card or I've lost a lot of respect for Card as an author.
57 reviews5 followers
December 30, 2013
I enjoyed the story, but despised the poor basic physics in this book. That has made it me least favorite of Card's books. Add the fact that it is an unresolved ending (unlike any of his other 12 or so books I've read) and it's 2 stars for me.

For those interested, the physics blunders mostly focused on a misunderstanding of relative velocity and what's speed means in space. They make a big deal out of a high speed docking maneuver in space, but that is absurd. As long as the 2 ships match each other in speed, the have a relative speed of 0. They don't need to keep engines running to maintain their speed because there is no air resistance and no friction. They also talk about only being able to make repairs at a full stop, but there is no such thing as stopped in space! Stopped compared to what? The earth is moving at one speed through the solar system while everything else moves a different speed, except the sun, which is also moving compared to everything else in the galaxy. Finally, they talk about space dust as though space dust is all moving in similar ways at similar speeds and of significant amounts in between different planets and asteroid belts. It is likely to be so sparse as to not matter, and is going to be moving in random directions at random speeds based on the exploding and mining they talk about in the book.
Profile Image for Neil.
255 reviews3 followers
October 28, 2013
This book was not good. There was nothing grievously wrong with it - except the author's apparent complete lack of understanding of physics - but there were lots of little things that just rankled. First of all, some of the audiobook narrators were terrible, particularly the ones who voiced Victor and Lem. If you're going to write about a Venezuelan family of space miners you'd better find somebody who can pronounce Spanish words properly.

None of the characters were that great and many of them felt gimmicky. As an example, we first meet Victor as he's learning that his childhood friend is being sent away so he doesn't fall in love with her - a big no-no in space mining families. His internal monologue as he comes to the realization that he actually does love her is everything that is wrong about young adult novels. Then he spends the rest of the book pining for this character that we never meet. I guess it's supposed to make him relatable but it really just makes me want to deck him. A lot of the other characters are just way too pure. There's practically no depth to any of them.

And the physics. Oh the physics. One thing you learn pretty quickly in space is that velocity doesn't really mean a whole lot. Acceleration means something and relative velocity it kind of important but the idea that you can't do something in space because you're going too fast is ludicrous. Too fast in relation to what? The air outside? Because there isn't any. Just a whole lot of nothing. The danger of space dust was brought up as a reason to slow down before a space walk but that assumes that the space dust is all holding still, which is preposterous. It's whizzing all over the place in every direction regardless of how fast you happen to be going. The prime example of this idiocy was the super dangerous "high speed" docking operation that takes place towards the end of the book. It's dangerous for ships to dock at high speeds? Why? As long as their relative velocities are similar it is as if they are holding still, because for all intents and purposes, they are. If this only came up a time or two, it would have been irritating but maybe I could have overlooked it. Unfortunately, it came up over and over and over again and was a serious factor in my enjoyment of the story.

I really expected better from Card.
Profile Image for Rich Kulesus.
6 reviews
August 11, 2012
Earth Unaware is to Orson Scott Card what "Lady in the Water" was to M. Night Shyamalan - The latest disappointing tale in a descending career abruptly punctuated by explanatory paragraphs to beat you over the head with every concept since he couldn't work it in more craftily. Ender's Game was Card's brilliant supernova of a novel, which, Like Shyamalan's Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, expertly twirled the reader's mind an incredible twist ending that left one pondering the meaning for days to come. Unfortunately both supernova's have faded with time, descending to ham-fisted story-telling.

You're not smart enough to figure things out on your own, or so Card believes. If you choose to read this (and I don't recommend you do), you'll be confronted by a silly vocabulary of items and concepts that are spelled out in parenthetical explanatory paragraphs to ensure you clearly, unequivocally, and resolutely understand what greaves, quickships, zogging, and dogging are. You're not smart enough to figure it out, and must have it explained to you, like a child.

Unfortunately, the author himself might not have it figured out. The Kuiper belt ecosystem and shockingly poor understanding of physics (plasma, ramscoops, and radio interference) will cause even moderate fans of sci-fi to cry foul. The failure to impress becomes clearer when reading the novel's Afterword - this work is preparation for a comic book audience.

Need I say more? Writing a book to prepare for a comic series - priceless.
66 reviews
August 15, 2012
Ender's Game is still one of my top 5 books of all time. While I didn't like the followup novels as much -- they didn't quite my satiate my reading tastes as much as Ender's Game -- I could still appreciate how well they were written. Earth Unaware, however, is a completely different beast. Seeing that the book was co-authored should have set alarm bells ringing in my head, but I was excited to read a new Card novel, so...

Earth Unaware is more of a series of short stories that are loosely tied together rather than a novel. It also includes couple of utterly pointless cameo appearances by characters which will play a role later in the Formic wars, but which have little impact at all in this book.

This utterly un-Card-like production starts to make sense after reading the Afterward in the book -- it was never originally intended to be a novel. It was backstory that Card created for Ender's Game. Back in 2009 Marvel Comics made several successful runs of comics based on Ender's Game and the Ender universe. This book is the result of Marvel wanting to do a new comic book series with new characters, but still set in the Ender universe. It was created specifically to flesh out the story for the comic books.
408 reviews4 followers
November 30, 2013
The story was typical Orson Scott Card. Solid characters, I wanted to read more. I was entertained. However, the physics and common-sense errors in this book were absolutely horrible, it made me want to scream. If that was it, I would give the book 4 stars.

Here is an example: In the first chapters of the book, the need for one of the characters to give an update to the board, drove all of the action - to speed up tests. Then that same character, who had to do a bunch of things for the updates to the board, then gave no updates at all for about a year. Just not consistent, not believable. Then the physics were horrible. For example - to do repairs, the ship in deep space had to "stop". Stop relative to what? (Yeah, um it's called the theory of relativity Card & Johnston) Currently, when they need to do repairs on the International Space Station (ISS) - they don't stop the space station. They just do the repairs - its called a space walk. There were about a dozen, obvious, egregious assaults on common sense, and the laws of physics. There is no excuse for this in modern science fiction. (-1 star for just being stupid and awful)

The best part of Card's writing is when he discusses the deep motives of the characters and reveals their thinking. Not present. (-1 star), and thus my 2 star rating.

However, I did want to finish reading the series, and I have read the second book, but this is a low point.
Profile Image for K.
1,094 reviews12 followers
May 27, 2015
While this book says it's by Orson Scott Card, I'm wondering if most of the writing was actually done by Aaron Johnston, who worked w/ Card while writing the comic book version of this story.

If you'll remember, I accidentally read book 2 of this series first. Since Card often starts strong but goes downhill in subsequent books, I was excited to read book 1...book 2 was excellent. Apparently Johnston has the opposite problem as Card. Thanks to Earth Unaware, I started disliking characters. This book was nearly POINTLESS. We had a slight glimpse of what is to become the one of the main characters (Rackham) & have to follow an elite military force through some of their games & exercises...which are utterly pointless. This is one gigantic book of backstory. The plot of the actual invasion of earth moves as fast as pitch. Honestly, unless you just want to have read every little detail about this storyline, SKIP THIS BOOK. Every important fact in this book is mentioned in book 2. Earth Unaware does not add any crucial or exciting information at all. How many times can I say 'pointless'?! It was such a disappointment.

This series had better end with book 3. If they start dragging it out a la Robert Jordan, I am seriously going to get pissed.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
645 reviews117 followers
August 24, 2012
A decent enough entry in the Ender saga. I would have preferred that all the various characters and plot points got tied together more before ending the book. All the MOPs backstory was a waste of time, briefly introducing Mazer Rackham and then booting him offstage. We know we'll see him again, but in this first book, it seems very gratuitous. Most of the science of this book is very fictional, so check your science background at the door, if you've got one. Finding out that the book was written to flesh out the storyline in a bunch of comics might explain some of the awkwardness of the plot. Ultimately, it's fun enough to explore the Ender backstory that I'll be continuing this series, despite these flaws.
Profile Image for ROHIT.
21 reviews
December 1, 2021
Amazing. The view on formics and why they were to be feared is totally different from the view "Speaker for the dead" gave, which was empathetic.

The unprovoked attacks by an alien specie justifies the bended society we see in Ender's game as well as the desperation people had to end all formics.

Great read.
Profile Image for Sergio.
147 reviews37 followers
July 30, 2013
Soy de la opinión de que a la novela ‘El juego de Ender’ le sobran (casi) todas sus secuelas. Ninguno de los libros siguientes alcanzaron el nivel del primer libro, y en muchos casos solo servían para repetir situaciones y alargar una obra que ya casi estaba perfecta. ‘La tierra desprevenida. La primera guerra fórmica’, el último volumen perteneciente a este mismo universo publicado recientemente en castellano por la colección Nova de Ediciones B, tampoco está a la altura de ‘El juego de Ender’, pero es infinitamente más interesante que las secuelas a las que nos tienen acostumbrados.
Hay varios motivos por los que puede ser esto: estamos ante una precuela a la novela original, Ender Wiggin no aparece en ningún momento, el lector siente estar tocando terreno familiar y al mismo tiempo se deja sorprender por la ambientación, ni siquiera hace falta haberse leído el resto de la obra para disfrutar de este libro…
Siendo un poco malvados, diré que hay otra razón más: Aaron Johnston. Puede que su nombre esté escrito en letra pequeña (casi parece un pie de página bajo el nombre de Orson Scott Card), pero me da la sensación de que la novela está enteramente escrita por él. En las ‘Consideraciones finales’ con las que cierra el libro prácticamente se desprende que el trabajo de Card se ha limitado a explicar cuáles eran sus ideas sobre este punto exacto en la cronología del mundo de Ender. “‘El juego de Ender’ llevaba en la mente de Scott más de treinta años, así que muchas de aquellas primeras sesiones consistieron en Scott compartiendo todo lo que se había estado cociendo en su cerebro durante todos esos años y yo tomando notas furiosamente”, explica.
Sea como fuere, ‘La tierra desprevenida’ es una estupenda novela de naves espaciales. No es revolucionaria, no crea un mundo nuevo ni personajes tan impactantes como Ender (aunque el personaje de Víctor, uno de los protagonistas del libro comparte varias características con él), pero es una perfecta novela de entretenimiento y Ciencia Ficción: sencilla, entretenida, adictiva y con algunas escenas verdaderamente memorables y bien trabajadas, como los rescates en el espacio de otras naves atacadas, o la forma en la que unos mineros se enfrentan al primer contacto con los fórmicos: las ‘hormigas’ antagonistas en esta saga.
‘La tierra desprevenida’ es el primer libro de una trilogía sobre la primera guerra fórmica, cuyo segundo título (ya publicado en inglés) será ‘Earth Afire’, y tiene su origen en una serie de cómics publicados por Marvel. Con 457 páginas, esta primera novela se divide en 24 capítulos que alternan sus protagonistas. Principalmente tenemos tres personajes repartidos en tres escenarios distintos:

Víctor es un joven ingeniero, brillante en todos los sentidos, que vive en la Cavadora, una nave perteneciente a una familia de mineros que navega el cinturón de Kuiper. Su nave es la primera en avistar a los ‘fórmicos’ y la responsable de hacer frente al peligro que acecha a la tierra (de ahí el título de la novela). Para mí los capítulos de Víctor son los mejores, ya que son los que nos ofrecen una mejor visión de cómo es la vida en el espacio, y ése es sin duda el mayor acierto de todo el libro.
Por otro lado tenemos a Lem Jukes, hijo del mayor multimillonario de la tierra y heredero de una todo poderosa (y como no, despiadada) multinacional. Sus capítulos también son muy interesantes y nos harán preguntarnos constantemente cuál es la verdadera naturaleza de Lem: ¿es bueno?, ¿es malvado? Su misión consiste en probar una nueva tecnología para la extracción de minerales, el llamado gláser o láser de gravedad.
El tercer punto de vista para mí es el más flojo y resulta un poco desconcertante en la novela. Se trata de Wit O’Toole, oficial de los POM (Policía de Operaciones Móviles) en pleno reclutamiento de nuevos soldados. Es obvio que prepara el terreno para futuros libros, pero el problema es que en esta primera entrega todo lo que hacen estos supersoldados son maniobras; ejercicios bélicos inflados de orgullo militar que hacen que los capítulos no tengan ningún peso para la trama salvo demostrar lo ‘increíblemente buenos’ que son las tropas del POM. Hay demasiado ‘Tom Clancy’ en estas páginas para mi gusto, por lo que me resultó un poco cargante. Lo dicho, por el momento no aportan nada a la trama.

Con estas premisas estamos ante una novela verdaderamente interesante. Es cierto que yo andaba con mono de alguna novela de naves espaciales, y en ese caso este libro es perfecto por varios motivos, como el hecho de tener un lenguaje totalmente accesible y sumergirnos poco a poco en la novela. Es un perfecto libro de iniciación a este tipo de historias, ya que no nos encontraremos con cientos de palabras inventadas o términos desconocidos. El lector no llega a estar perdido en ningún momento, las tramas se introducen rápidamente al principio, pero de forma ordenada, y aunque hacia la mitad de la novela hay mucha paja, al final del libro todo vuelve a precipitarse.
Para los amantes de la ciencia ficción esta novela no traerá nada nuevo, salvo puro entretenimiento. Casi todo el libro discurre en el espacio, y la atmósfera que dibujan los autores está plenamente conseguida. Se incide mucho en las incomodidades y en los peligros para el cuerpo que acarrea vivir en un entorno sin gravedad; se dibuja de forma muy detallada cómo se ha desarrollado la sociedad de clanes en la época de la colonización del espacio; se ofrecen muchos detalles interesantes sobre comunicación entre naves, radiación, micrometeoros, extracción de hielo para dotar de combustible y oxígeno a las naves, cómo es la vida en las diferentes estaciones… En definitiva, un entorno muy bien presentado y muy conseguido para abrir camino a los próximos dos libros, en los que todo apunta a que habrá más combates y más acción.
La novela se lee rápido y la edición en papel es cómoda y resistente (después de la primera lectura el libro está igual de nuevo que cuando me lo enviaron, salvo por los ‘post-it’ que le he añadido. Sin embargo, hay un pero importante en el libro publicado y es la cantidad de letras que se han comido o añadido al transcribirlo/imprimirlo. “Había muy poca (g)ente ahora…”, “Víctor y su padre retiraron en tejido…”, “La familia había dejando…”, “Es más que suficiente para llenarnos donde queramos ir…”, etcétera. Normalmente están dispersas a lo largo del libro, y cuando se detectan no son más que una pequeña molestia, pero entre las páginas 137-145 se suceden varios de estos errores que acaban siendo muy fastidiosos.
Al margen de este detalle, el libro resulta especialmente recomendable en esta época del año en el que la mayoría buscamos desconectar. Sobre todo porque últimamente se ha publicado muy poca ciencia ficción de este estilo en nuestro país, y resulta gratificante poder pasar unas cuantas horas flotando por el espacio y afrontando amenazas en el cinturón de Kuiper, aunque solo sea a través del papel. Incluso como novela independiente, aunque el final se podría calificar, de ‘cliffhanger’ brutal, resulta un título de lo más recomendable.
Profile Image for Scott Danielson.
Author 1 book32 followers
August 13, 2012
One of the pleasures of listening to science fiction audiobooks over the years has been hearing Orson Scott Card's Ender series. Besides being expertly narrated by an ensemble led by Stefan Rudnicki, these audiobooks are entertaining because Card isn't delivering the same book over and over. In Earth Unaware, Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston take the series in yet another direction.

I know, I know. It's been proven time after time. When a book series gets to the point where [Original Author] picks up [Insert new author here (often a relative)], the results are just... not good. I'm happy to report that Earth Unaware is an excellent novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aaron Johnston and Orson Scott Card created and are telling the story of the First Formic War in the comic format. I haven't read those, so I can't say how similar this novel is, but Aaron Johnston says in the Afterword that Earth Unaware draws from the characters and events in those comics.

The subtitle (First Formic War) implies that we're in for a military SF novel, but that's not what this is. This novel is a tense near-space adventure set in the not too distant future and peopled with characters I cared about. The opening reveals the thoughts and feelings of teenager on the El Calvador, a mining ship in the Kuiper Belt. Close by, on a different ship, is a man who has invested much time and effort into the invention of a gravity laser. He needs to prove his worth to his corporate employer. And back on Earth, an elite military unit is being formed. These lives, some entwined, move forward as normal until all interests are altered in the face of the arrival of an alien ship in the solar system.

Even though the cover doesn't say it, this is Book 1 of at least a few. I look forward to the continued development of the concept of difference. On Valentine Wiggin's Hierarchy of Foreignness is Varelse. True aliens, aliens so alien that we can't even communicate with them or even hope to understand them. How could war with such a race be avoided? Difference also extends to human beings, who seem so content to drop their conflicts in the face of greater danger. Why is that what it takes?

The audiobook is performed by multiple narrators in the style that fits Orson Scott Card's stories so incredibly well. The narrators (all excellent) change with the POV of the story. Reading the story were: Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, Vikas Adam, Emily Janice Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, and Roxanne Hernandez. Top notch!
Profile Image for Virginia.
1,070 reviews
August 6, 2012
As far as I'm concerned, Card can write as many stories in the Enderverse as he wants. Milk that cash cow, man! Especially if the stories are as compelling as these. It was particularly thrilling to read how certain elements in Ender's Game started out (eg: Battle School, the MD, the IF, etc). My only complaint is that the dialog isn't as snappy as Card's other books, but that could be a side effect of the co-authoring. I still found it very enjoyable! Loving the fleshed out backstory and can't wait for the next two.
Profile Image for Eric Herboso.
65 reviews26 followers
April 29, 2019
I went into this thinking I'd be reading the story of the elusive Mazer Rackham. Without giving anything away, let me say that this is much more than that.

As the first in a planned trilogy, I am a little upset that I can't yet read the sequels which have yet to come out, but this is actually a very good sign when it comes to how good a novel is. I'm extremely pumped by the story, even though (since it's a prequel) I technically know what's going to happen.

Note that there are some marvel comics associated with this book, but they are completely unnecessary, even as a supplement. If you plan to read both, read the book first. (This is true even though the comics were published earlier than the book.)

However, despite the five star rating, I have (as usual) some gripes about Orson Scott Card's writing.

Please stop reading this review if you have yet to read the novel.

First, I get incest is bad when it comes to reproduction. But geez. He is so harsh in his world building here. Sure, it's justified somewhat by the fact that there would have to be some system in place to deal with space-faring communities that lived out their lives in the kuiper belt. But unfortunately, Card has lost the ability to make such justifications up with me. In other books of the Ender series, he has bashed homosexuality (giving aiuia bonding as in-universe justification), islam (by making it so muslims in Ender's universe are basically evil in principle), and polyamory (in insisting upon monogamous heterosexual marriage EVEN when there literally is not enough men to go around on a colony) -- so when he bashes incest here, I just assume it is Card being his usual dick self again rather than accepting the justification given in the novel itself.

Still, it's better justified than his other crazy notions, so I'd almost forgiven him for it. But then he drops a bombshell.

Card makes a scientist character say that gravity is the strongest force there is.

This reeks of utter did-not-do-the-research. Gravity is the weakest force we know of, not the strongest. To have a scientist who specializes in gravity say this is the pinnacle of absurdity.

Look, I get that this is not hard science fiction. But the soft scifi label is what allows Card to come up with stuff like glasers, which I accept just as readily as I do tar trek's transporters. I've got no problem with glasers in my fiction. But please, for the love of science, do not make a scientist character say something so utterly nonscientific like this. It really takes me out of the story. /c:

Anyway, thankfully these drawbacks do not detract too much from the rest of the story. Any fan of the Ender universe will no doubt be enthralled by this new entrant in the series.
Profile Image for Emily.
804 reviews118 followers
November 3, 2016
After Card and Aaron Johnston began writing the Ender's Game comic book series, they began to see that what happened prior to Ender's story deserved a story of its own. Hence, Earth Unaware, having to do with the events leading up to the first Formic War.
Vico is young, but a master mechanic. He and his family have a small ship, El Cavador, and they mine asteroids out in the Kuiper Belt. They are the first to discover an anomalous ship heading their way. Lem Jukes, heir to Jukes Unlimited, a ruthless corporate mining operation, is also in the area testing a new technology that uses gravity to explode asteroids so the ores inside can be collected instead of traditional mining, which involves a lot of costly and cumbersome digging with drills. Captain Wit O'Toole is on earth, putting together an elite fighting squad culled from the best of the best of the world's armies and designed to respond to "skirmishes" the governments and mainstream military can't handle. One soldier he becomes interested in is Mazer Rackham, whose name Ender's Game readers will recognize. The action skips back and forth between the two vessels and Wit's team on Earth. It's pretty slow going in the beginning, and I lost interest several times. This just didn't really grab me like a lot of Card's other work, such as Ender's Game and Seventh Son. Once the Formics were met and the action heated up, I became more invested, though. The book ended rather abruptly, I thought, so I assume there will be sequels. Sadly, knowing Card, we'll probably have to wait a few years for the next one.
--edited for typos
Profile Image for Ronie.
Author 65 books1,074 followers
December 29, 2019
The story took a bit to get into, but that's not offputting to me because world- and character-building in speculative fiction often requires that, especially those with an epic style. This story was pretty fascinating and kept our interest rapt on a very long road trip.
Profile Image for F. William Davis.
690 reviews19 followers
March 1, 2022
I may have done myself a disservice by reading the prequel series ahead of Ender's Game but I don't really care, I heart chronological ordering. Usually. Though I'm not sure I can stomach the entire Enderverse after finishing this entry.

This story starts with a teen named Victor getting told that his second cousin is being shipped away to a bunch of Italians because the community thought he was too enamoured with her. Ok, this opening scene does a few things for me.

Victor's attitude about "the adults" overreacting gave this a very YA feel, thus my expectations were adjusted accordingly.

This part of the narrative also explains "zogged" marriages which are sort of like arranged marriages, except the community chooses where you are sent rather than who you will marry. In this future some humans live in isolated communities on spacecraft spread across the solar system, so zogging serves to maintain a healthy genetic diversity. Actually this makes some sense and reminds of tribal customs though it will be briefly noted that young women are zogged rather than young men, thus my expectations were adjusted accordingly.

It also reveals that these ships are generally populated with distinct national groups, thus... you get the point. I wasn't off to a good start with this one.

Some things I did like about this book. Humans being human and going about their own conflicts while the alien threat approaches. Space walks and work outside the spacecraft were enjoyable scenes. The centrifuge exercise. Most of the mining and other silly tech ideas were fun (eg. Glasers). I like the bugs, a bit starship troopers. Two plots linked together in a neat fashion (the third seemed entirely disconnected and didn't make sense).

At some point a character claimed that "Gravity is the most powerful force in the universe." Hrmm. This could be argued I suppose because of the extreme distances over which the force of gravity can act, but that influence is inversely proportional to the distance and at shorter distances other forces prove superior, which can be demonstrated simply by using a magnet to suspend an object. Alright science class is over, but I'm going to ask the author to stay back.

There's a line describing being grounded to your room for a day as "cruel and unusual punishment" so it's pretty clear that adults are not really expected to read this series.

The sexism was weird, in fairness there was a female ship captain, a girl kicking ass at science who was rather headstrong (pretty sure she was under ten years old), and an auditor-in-training turned customs case worker who was also pretty badass. But. Then there were the obvious chauvinisms too. Not a one female engaged in the battles. Females regularly described as having a weaker constitution. Females serving largely as home makers. If I'd started at Ender's which was written in 1985 I may have let it slide as holdover from the 50s but this came out in 2012 and if you didn't grasp the idea of equality by 2012 you weren't trying.

A brief synopsis, which is probably all mentioned in the blurb (as is often the case, I failed to read the blurb). A community of free miners pick up a sensor trace that indicates a fast moving object is heading for Earth, magically presuming an attack they attempt to alert other groups in the area. This goes particularly wrong so they send a super kid on a "fast ship" to earth with the message. A few confrontations occur and the stage is largely set for book two.

I won't be getting to book two. Not at this stage. Maybe if the well of scifi ever runs dry, I might revisit this series just before looking at Hubbard's Battlefield Earth and then dying from an overload of BS. I'm possibly exaggerating. But the kid centric action and the sloppy writing really had me struggling to even finish this one.
Profile Image for thethousanderclub.
298 reviews19 followers
December 6, 2016
I now have read twelve books in the Ender Universe. And, sadly, I think I'm done reading books in that universe. The last book I read from Scott Card was Ender in Exile, and I largely left off reading that book with a positive feeling. I wrote in part: "With so many books and so many authors in the wild to enjoy, I'm not exactly sure why I keep coming back to the Ender well. Regardless of whether I figure it out or not, I'll be back to take another drink and more than likely enjoy the taste just fine." Yet, going into Earth Unaware my mood and feeling changed. I realized that with so many books to read and so many authors to enjoy, it may be time to leave behind characters I have come to love.

The most interesting aspect of Earth Unaware is the new cast of characters. As I have read about Ender and the characters that surround him, such as his family, I have come to know them in an intimate way, even personal. Furthermore, with Scott Card's signature psycho-analysis, the reader came to know the characters at a very deep, albeit sometimes trite, way. Earth Unaware only tries to bridge the current story with the future story by briefly introducing but just as quickly leaving behind the war hero Mazer Rackham. I was fine with the introduction but also the quick departure from him. We have learned enough about the characters from the original Ender stories. It was time for new blood, new motivations, and new conflicts. The new characters are adequate but mostly forgettable. Furthermore, the story that surrounds them is also forgettable; therefore, as you can imagine, a forgettable story and forgettable characters makes for a forgettable book.

Prequels often seem like a good idea on paper; yet, they quickly become bad ideas in their execution. Ender's Game is rightfully considered a classic of science fiction. Logic would suggest that the story that led to Ender's Game would be just as interesting. In this case, as in the case with many other prequels, it's just not true. Sometimes there is great value in mystery. When it comes to fiction, we don't have to know everything. In Ender's Game the characters, including Andrew Wiggin, and the reader are given only glimpses into the First Formic War. Wouldn't it be fascinating to get the detailed story? Not really. Storytellers should remember the lesson of the Star Wars prequels. Do we really want to know how Darth Vader became Darth Vader? It seems like a no-brainer, but the end result is pretty lousy.

It's entirely possible I'll end up reading some more books in the Enderverse. It won't be for some time. I have no desire to continue the Earth trilogy nor the Shadow series; therefore, I don't really have too many places to go. Yet, with twelve books in my collection, I would say I put in my time as a faithful fan. At this point, I think I'm okay with remembering the great stories Scott Card gave me and forgetting the mediocre ones. Earth Unaware is the latter.

October 15, 2013
I won volume two of this series in a drawing on Goodreads. Not wanting to read the series out of sequence I bought EARTH UNAWARE in paperback. While the book successfully (and, I hope, intentionally) mimics the tone of ENDER'S GAME, I suspect that much of the writing here is actually by Aaron Johnston. That's not a bad thing. In fact, despite some readers' qualms about gaffes in the the physics utilized in the book, I found most of the scientific exposition to be considerably more detailed than in most of Card's work that I've read. That said, I don't read science fiction for scientific accuracy; I read it first for entertainment and secondly for the speculative aspect - the "what if ...?". Keeping in mind that the story happens in the not terribly distant future, I would expect that some of what we think we know now may well have been rocked by the time the events of this book unfold. In the real world, the last one hundred and fifty years have seen several rewrites of our science texts as new discoveries and inventions have changed our understanding of what is true.

Now that that's out of the way, on to the story. Or more accurately, my impressions of the story. While I suspect that much of the actual writing is Johnston's, the plot is obviously an expansion of backstory that Card had created for ENDER'S GAME years ago. Victor Delgado is a likeable, sympathetic character who, like many of Card's best characters, rises to the occasion to do something that would be perceived to be beyond his limitations. Lem Jukes, on the other hand, although his character moves away from being completely self-absorbed as he is when we first meet him, never quite becomes likeable. In fact, by the end of this volume, I almost felt sorry for the guy. Thinking that you're large and in charge, only to find that you're being controlled, is never pretty.

I don't want to give too many spoilers that may discourage someone from reading the book, so just let me say here that I enjoyed the book enough that, as soon as I finished EARTH UNAWARE, I immediately picked up my copy of EARTH AFIRE to read next. While it's not in the same league with ENDER'S GAME, it serves its purpose well as a prequel. All in all, a good read!
Profile Image for Jacob Ediger.
1 review5 followers
August 16, 2013
Ender's Game is a book about people who happen to live in the future and what technology there is there to drive the story and is not explained in detail, it is left at the level of "magic." In Earth Unaware technology is used to drive the story and explained in detail. This would be OK if the author had any appreciable understanding of the technicalities of space travel, unfortunately they do not. Spaceships are treated as cars on a highway, occasionally being required to pull over to make repairs.

Sometimes a technology in science fiction is stated to exist and the story can depend on this, if it is self consistent, even if it is impossible within the current understanding of the world, this is OK. Other times counterfactual details may be tolerated if it permits the story to explore some place or idea which would otherwise be inaccessible, this is also OK. In this story a counterfactual universe is created and maintained unnecessarily either for the author's convenience or through their ignorance and the story is less intelligent for it.

I have not yet read the second book of the trilogy however I don't imagine much would be lost by skipping straight to the second book. At the end of this book the invaders have not even reached the inner system, almost nothing of consequence has actually transpired, and the interactions of the characters do not bring enough back.
Profile Image for Annette.
752 reviews17 followers
December 16, 2012
When I saw Aaron Johnston listed as co-author on this book, I was ready for it to be something of the general quality of Invasive Procedures - in other words, poor. Indeed, I nearly gave it up after the first few chapters because I didn't think I could handle 350 pages featuring a host of emotionally damaged, introspective characters plagued by dysfunctional family relationships - written by someone other than Card - just then. Having no other book on my "must read" list ready to hand, I stuck with it, and this turned out to be a good decision. First, the characters and families are largely less emotionally damaged and dysfunctional (if not less introspective!) than the average book in the Ender universe. Second, there are enough characters (no laser-like focus on any given one here) and enough action that the effect is rather dissipated. Third, the writing, and especially the plotting, is considerably better than "Invasive Procedures," which I am tentatively ready to dismiss as an anomaly not indicative of Johnston's true capabilities.
Be aware that this is a multi-book series with the next volumes still unpublished, and also that it is a parallel series expanding upon (and, I suspect, occasionally contradicting) a series of Marvel-published comics - which went by completely under my own radar as graphic novels are not my genre. So if you happen to be completely new to the Ender universe, you might not want to start here... yet. I'm not willing to say the finished series Couldn't be a good intro to the universe, but you're going to want more when you finish. Might as well read them in the order published.
Profile Image for Estibaliz79.
1,768 reviews66 followers
July 20, 2013
Cuando los libros se escriben, como este, a cuatro manos, siempre me surge la duda de hasta que punto participa cada uno en la verdadera labor de escritura... máxime cuando el único que incluye una nota final es Johnston y no Card.
Afortunadamente, la mano de este último se deja notar, con una historia dinámica, amena, y con personajes humanos y memorables, entre los que destaca sin duda Víctor. La mezcla perfecta de lo militar con lo futurista, en una novela que no deja de ser pura ciencia ficción, y que plantea la verdadera realidad de esa historia alternativa que siempre ha estado presente en "El Juego de Ender"...

¿Qué pasó la primera vez que la raza humana entró en contacto con los insectores? ¿Cómo se inició la primera guerra fórmica? Y, aún así, esta novela sólo empieza a responder a esos interrogantes... Una nueva serie a la que le falta un poquito para llegar a los niveles de pura diversión del original y las precuelas, pero que apunta maneras...
Profile Image for Leonor.
362 reviews3 followers
November 29, 2017

Esta novela narra el primer ataque de los insectores, o fórmicos, al planeta Tierra. Está ambientada durante la juventud de Mazer Rackham, quien fue mentor de Ender en la novela “El juego de Ender”.

Tiene diversos puntos de vista: de “mineros libres” (gente independiente que explota los minerales de los asteroides), de “corporaciones” (empresas que se dedican a explotar los minerales de manera más formal), y de militares (aquí es donde entra Mazer a la historia).

Conoceremos a Víctor Delgado, mecánico de la Cavadora, nave de mineros libres; a Lem Jukes, hijo del hombre más rico del universo, Ukko Jukes, y al jefe de la unidad de fuerzas especiales POM, Wit O’Toole.


Es una novela entretenida, dinámica, fácil y rápida de leer. Se subentiende, si ya se leyó al menos “El juego de Ender”, que tendrá momentos muy duros y difíciles, en especial para los personajes que tienen menor escala social.

Se descubrirán por primera vez a los insectores, e incluso conoceremos a quien los bautizó como “fórmicos”, de manera científica.

Es una prosa que engancha, los capítulos no son muy largos, todo ello contribuye a disfrutar la experiencia.

Lo recomiendo a quienes les gustó la saga de “El juego de Ender”, y en general a los amantes de la ciencia ficción.

4 / 5 estrellas
Profile Image for Lesa.
130 reviews2 followers
February 23, 2022
Loved Enders Game, so it is no surprise this series would be just as interesting - giving the back story about the first Formic war.
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