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Literature / Children of the Mind

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Children of the Mind is the fourth and originally final book in the Ender's Game saga, written by Orson Scott Card and published in 1996.

The Starways Congress fleet is almost at Lusitania with the Little Doctor device, Jane is using her new found teleportation powers to get everyone offworld, and Peter Wiggin and Si Wang-Mu are trying to persuade members of the Congress to rescind the order to blow Lusitania up.


Children of the Mind provides examples of:

  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The creators of the Descolada are implied to have this.
  • Failsafe Failure: Averted in how a Doctor Device is designed to be easy to disarm. Pretty important for a planet buster.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The aliens who designed the descolada seemingly outright communicate by genetically engineering viruses to send to each other, and their idea of terraforming turned the piggies into what they are now.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: At one point, Wang Mu has to pretend to be a philosopher that specializes in these, but she's too logical to last long.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: The Descoladores are an example.
  • Limb-Sensation Fascination: Jane gets transferred into the human body of Valentine's clone. She describes the process as like putting on a glove, individually finding each part and fitting into it. Each new feeling surprises her, from touching to crying, etc. When she briefly returns to her AI network a few chapters later she finds it lacking, as even virtual omniscience pales to the visceral taste of life.
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  • Our Souls Are Different: Children of the Mind expands upon the idea of Aiuas, and is filled with lots of exposition about exactly those properties.
  • Rewrite: Several details of the conclusion of Xenocide and the beginning of Children of the Mind don't line up with each other:
    • Novinha's becoming a nun and begging Andrew to join her, with him refusing on the grounds that he still wants to live his life with her is inexplicably changed to Andrew deciding to join her immediately, and Novinha had never actually become an official nun.
    • Faster-than-Light travel in Xenocide requires Ender to be there, or Peter and New Valentine, because they contain Jane. Children of the Mind treats this as optional with no explanation.
    • In Xenocide, Jane is said to have never been possible to kill by the disconnecting of the ansible network, but Children of the Mind starts again with that plot point.
  • Starfish Aliens: By this book four alien species are seen in story, and none of them remotely resemble each other. The makers of the Descolada are never contacted in any official capacity though, and may be impossible to communicate with, and Jane ceases to truly be a separate intelligence, as part of her becomes human and another part becomes piggie, while her relatively non-sentient functions remain in the ansible net and she was always kind of part formic in origin anyway.
  • Trilogy Creep: Xenocide and Children of the Mind were originally supposed to be one book. It didn't work out, and Children of the Mind ended up being published five years after Xenocide.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Admiral Lands tries to pull one.
    • His reason for disobeying orders seems pretty petty. While it's true that he's prepared to bear the consequences of committing another Xenocide to protect humanity, his main reason appear to be so as not to cause his men additional discomfort by forcing them to be placed in long-term duty above the surface of Lusitania.

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