cover image The Last Shadow

The Last Shadow

Orson Scott Card. Tor, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0495-7

Bestseller Card sends out both the Ender series and the Ender’s Shadow series with a rambling finale that evokes many of the conflicts that have shaped both series from the outset, but bogs down in distracting detail. The starship Herodotus is carrying the hyperhuman Delphiki clan on “a voyage of research and discovery” through the human-colonized Hundred Worlds when it is visited by a simulation of Hyrum Graff, Ender Wiggin’s Battle School teacher, who tasks the Delphikis with traveling to the planet Lusitania to explore the source of descolada, a highly infectious virus that threatens all life forms throughout the galaxy. The virus appears to have originated from a nearby planet now dubbed Descoladora—but when young Thulium and Sprout Delphiki visit Descoladora in the company of Ender’s brother, Peter, and Peter’s wife, Wang-Mu, they discover a biosphere full of genetic surprises. Card applies his usual fecund imagination to the alien cultural diversity to conjure striking extraterrestrial flora and fauna and characters who have double souls or exist as holographic memory dumps. The adventures in which this colorful cast features, however, are often needlessly discursive and meandering. This is strictly for Card’s diehard fans. Agent: Ken Bova, Barbara Bova Literary. (Oct.)