I just finished the first book Ender's Game, I was happy with the way it ended. I was wondering how the rest of the books in the series are?? I read a little about the second book Speaker for the Dead and it sounded ok but I was just wondering what other people thought about where the series goes. Thanks a lot!!
It's very, very different. Much more about racial tolerance, belief, faith, philosophy, politics, and AI. Those are some pretty broad topics/themes, and it doesn't handle all of them well, but it's sorta interesting.
Nothing in it is even close to the war/conflict between the humans and buggers (which many people somewhat expected). And the actual technology at play is almost irrelevant to the key events of the plot, so it's barely sci-fi, at least in that respect. Much more about the interaction and relationships between characters and certain factions.
Read Speaker for the Dead, I guess, and if you find that you're not 100% enjoying it, don't bother with the next two, since they go even further down that rabbithole.
Also, yeah, there's Ender's Shadow and that whole series which, in its own way, is also quite different from Ender's Game. The first book basically gives you the life story of Bean, and what he was doing on the Battle School. The later books then take place mostly on Earth, and are about the Battle School kids being used by various world governments (or those kids using various world governments) due to their strategic prowess.
Again, not much in common with Ender's Game. Lots of modern-day weapons, Earth-based combat and tactics, lots of global superpowers vying for dominance, some discussion of genetic engineering, etc.
There sort of just isn't any sequel to Ender's Game that is the same kind of sci-fi as it.
EDIT: For what it's worth, I read both the Speaker for the Dead stuff and the Ender's Shadow stuff back when I was in high school and just kept reading stuff if it was part of a series. Looking back on it, I didn't really enjoy either one very much. Ender's Game at least moves at a pretty fast pace compared to all of the books that follow. It also has that weird video game Ender keeps playing at the Battle School, which is given an EXCRUCIATINGLY lame explanation somewhere in the Speaker for the Dead stuff.
@BisonHero: Thanks a lot!! Does the Shadow series follow all the people that Ender was in command of at the end of book? I wouldn't mind spending more time with those characters. I guess I'll give Speaker a chance. It sounds interesting. I was trying to get into more sci-fi books. Do you have any more recommendations??
@rentfn: You spend some more time with the Battle School characters in Ender's Shadow, and it pulls the ol' "turns out Bean was doing all this super important stuff that Ender never knew about" trick. But if you read anything beyond Ender's Shadow, it introduces a bunch of new characters, and the returning characters (Bean, Petra, Peter Wiggin, Hot Soup/Han Tzu, Colonel Graff but he is less badass) are fleshed out so much and put in such a different scenario that you almost forget they're the same characters from the Battle School. It doesn't feel particularly connected to Ender's Game.
But yeah, Ender's Shadow revisits Ender's Game from a different point of view, so if you actually want to read a story about cool shit happening in space, Ender's Shadow has some of that, while basically none of the other books do. If you want to read sci-fi that is anything like Star Wars/Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica, you've pretty much already read everything Orson Scott Card has to offer in that department. And as Animasta suggests, the more you read of Orson Scott Card, the more you start to pick up on his somewhat controversial religious and political views, which are sometimes blatantly promoted in his later books.
If you wouldn't mind reading another book in the same vein, Ender's Shadow is your best option. Anything further in the Shadow series is more like a modern-military-Tom-Clancy-competing-global-superpowers thing. If you think you can handle a book with almost no direct conflict, and instead lots of discussion of morality, philosophy, cultural differences, and weird family drama, then you might enjoy Speaker for the Dead.
As for other sci-fi recommendations, it largely depends on what kind of fiction you're looking for. I let the length of this post get totally out of hand:
- Robert A. Heinlein offers some good old fashioned fun science fiction in all of his early stuff. Lots of time travel, alien invasions, colonizing other planets, etc. Then around 1960 some of his books become a little focused on his own interests. Starship Troopers is largely just about how awesome it is to be in the military and be a part of something, and it just so happens to be space military. And then Stranger in a Strange Land is about a human who comes back to Earth after being raised by aliens and is all about free love and peace and it gets really weird but good. Don't read anything he wrote from about 1980 onwards, it's mostly disappointing.
- Philip K. Dick wrote the novels that have led to just about every sci-fi blockbuster that contains any kind of mindfuck. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau: all based on novels or short stories he wrote. A lot of his early stuff is more technology-based sci-fi like Minority Report, while much of his later stuff deals with characters who have a hard time figuring out whether everything around them is real or not/whether the character himself is real or not. This was an issue he dealt with personally, so it informed a lot of his writing. His last 3 or 4 novels take that to an extreme and are totally bonkers, but everything before that is varying amounts of interesting.
- I've heard a lot of good things about Spider Robinson from friends. I haven't read enough of his writing to tell you what his style is like. The only thing of his that I've read was Variable Star, which was actually a plot outline devised by Robert Heinlein years ago that he never fully wrote out, but then the book itself was written by Spider Robinson. That book is about someone who decides to be a crewmember on a giant ship sent off to colonize another solar system, and what it's like to live on a giant colony ship with the same few thousand people for a significant portion of his life. Also has some coming of age sort of stuff in it. I thought it was quite good.
- One of my friends strongly recommends Peter Watts. Watts is also a marine biologist, so the aliens in his books tend to be much more plausibly constructed than your standard Star Wars/Star Trek/Mass Effect situation where everybody is conveniently a humanoid with a weird-looking face. I've only read Watts' Blindsight, but I couldn't put it down. It's a take on the whole "first contact between man and alien" scenario that is utterly fascinating.
- Dan Simmons wrote Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, a pair of books that are closer to a Mass Effect setting, in the sense that there are hundreds of planets settled by humans, and they have to use warp gates to get around because everything is very far apart even at lightspeed. It's hard to explain the story briefly, but the cast of characters is quite varied, and they have some very interesting experiences and backstories. Almost like sci-fi Lost, only the ending is more satisfying (though still not perfect). Also bonus points if you're an English major or plan to be one, because Simmons likes his literary references: the first book is structured very similarly to The Canterbury Tales, and one of the characters is a cloned reincarnation of the poet John Keats. A lot of other more subtle references as well.
- Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov are also highly regarded authors worth mentioning, but I've already talked for far too long, so they just get namedropped.
I don't really keep up with a lot of modern sci-fi, so there are probably a ton of authors I left out that are also writing good sci-fi these days. Maybe I'll send Dave Snider a PM. He seems like a guy who has opinions on what sci-fi you should read.