A complete work in itself
Orson scott card came up with the central idea of "speaker for the dead" before "ender's game", and after you read both books you'll understand why he originally thought of "ender's game" as just an introduction. the two books are separate works that share only their one major character. "speaker" is set three-thousand years later, when ender is still alive because of the relativistic effects of space travel. he's spent the time wandering among various planets settled by humans and speaking the deaths of various people, a newly invented ritual where he attempts to tell the deceased's entire life story from an impartial perspective. on the planet of lusitania, meanwhile, humanity has encountered a new and intelligent, but technologically primitive species known as the pequinos. because the destruction of the buggers is now viewed as the worst crime in human history, this new lifeform is seen as a chance for redemption. "speaker for the dead" is a big, ambitious work, and its topics and goals are very different from those in "ender's game". while the idea of alien contact does get mentioned quite a bit, large portions of the book are also focused on the experiences of one particular family whose members work with the pequinos. religion plays a big role in this book, and card has a unique vision of how authority, in terms of both church and government, will be organized in the future. like all of the very best science fiction novels, "speaker of the dead" presents us with a lot of original insights about the future of human society, and raises countless questions that are relevant to us today. card's writing is, needless to say, outstanding. while reading "speaker for the dead", i was constantly stunned by his accurate dialogue, and by the way that he is able to bring a huge and diverse cast of characters to life. it's interesting to note that card spends almost no time on descriptions, yet he still effectively communicates the look and feel of almost every location in the book. "speaker for the dead" shows us one of the greatest authors of a generation at the top of his game; it's a book that nobody should miss.