Earth Unaware initially surpassed my expectations so much so that I was not planning to write this review. There was nothing to critique because every page was perfection. I took no issue with this book until page four hundred, which considering how Ender in Exile went, that’s saying a lot. Two words: Imala Bootstamp. The three hundred and some odd pages before her uninvited entrance, Earth Unaware revolved around three stories. Here they are in order of my preference (favoritism was used):
Victor and his family of twenty-odd men/women/children, a mining family living in a ship called El Cavador which is currently at a pit-stop in the Kuiper Belt . El Cavador is headed by a woman named Cocepcion, who knows that young Victor is an extremely valuable asset to her ship. He has a knack for engineering and innovation.
Second, Lem Jukes: a “corporate” who is also working in the Kuiper Belt. He’s the son of Mr. Jukes duh who owns Jukes Limited, “the largest space-mining corporation in the solar system” (32). Lem flies through space with dollar signs for eyes because all he wants in life are two things: more money, and his father’s acceptance. Guess which one he’ll never get?
Last and least: Wit O’Toole, back on Earth. Wit is part of the Mobile Operations Police (MOP) “a small, elite, international peacekeeping force” because apparently we need those in the future (53). Wit is looking for soldiers to recruit, and on the island of New Zealand he and his team round up a group of prospects, including one young lieutenant who goes by the name of Mazer Rackham.
Victor’s family links up with an Italian family nearby for you know, human contact, among other reasons. They spend a week swapping jokes and food and tech stuff and ideas and then El Cavador bids the Italians farewell as they return to their livelihood which means mining asteroids in the Kuiper Belt. The asteroid they are presently mining, the one they are anchored to so they don’t float away, just so happens to be the exact same asteroid that Lem Jukes has his eye on, for other reasons.
Meanwhile back on Earth, Mazer was denied access to join the MOP’s because he was too different, a la Ender Wiggin. So the rest of the MOP squad goes on various mock battles in places such as northern India, to prepare for whatever may come. Even they don’t know what it may be, but Wit knows for sure that Mazer isn’t the right kind of guy for this job. I sure hope we get to see Wit’s face later on, don’t you?
While Wit is being a real you-know-what back down on Earth, up in the Kuiper Belt, Lem decides to go ahead and test his gravity laser, also known as a glaser, on the asteroid. Only problem is that pesky ship, El Cavador. All Lem wants is to blow up the asteroid with his glaser so he can call his dad and be like hey dad look, I’m just as scary and powerful as you are please notice me, k thanks bye. But their ship is in the way…what’s a man to do? Lem decides to bump them.
This is by far one of the lowest things you could do to another ship in space, a decision that half his crew strongly disagree with. But Lem think there’s no time to waste because every second he isn’t in his father’s good graces is another second he can’t live with himself. He has to show his father now and he can’t wait for the next asteroid because it’ll be months away.
Lem makes the command to cut El Cavador’s twelve mooring lines anchoring them to the asteroid, and cripples their power source. So now not only are they floating in space, anchored to nothing, but they only have enough auxiliary power for life support and nothing else. Worse-er, Lem killed one of their men, Marco, in the process, because he didn’t look in the rearview mirror before backing up and failed to notice that El Cavador had three men outside the ship working on repairs.
Just days before this one of the youngest members of El Cavador, a fourteen year-old girl named Edimar, had spotted something odd, something that “doesn’t make any sense” (28) in The Eye (think of a periscope poking out of the top of a submarine and you’ve got it). The Eye detected motion deep, deep in space and alerted Edimar, who at first thought that she was misreading that data.
It is an object of some sort moving at “fifty percent of lightspeed” with a trajectory we ultimately find out is heading straight towards Earth (28). Edmiar knows that nothing made by humans could go that fast, therefore any information she can gather about this object before it gets any closer will be vital. She was presenting the data and her conclusions to the Council of El Cavador (Concepcion, and the elders) with the help of Victor so they could warn the ship nearest to them, AKA Jukes Inc. your friendly next-door neighbor, and hopefully get that information back to Earth. But then Jukes Inc. decided to bump them. Now El Cavador is floating with no power, and no way to beam a message to a nearby ship with the data from The Eye or even call for help. All the while that object is barreling closer and closer to Earth and they are the only ones who know.
Earth Unaware is not lacking in the classic Orson Scott Card style we know and (mostly) love even though it involved a co-author, Aaron Johnston. As you can tell this novel is nothing short of suspense and excitement, particularly because we the reader already know what that object in deep space is, and because we know how Mazer Rackham will soon be involved. This is why it is completely baffling to me that Card and Johnston would hit the brakes as hard as they did on page four hundred and introduce a new character, the above mentioned Imala Bootstamp, and proceed to spend six precious pages on backstory about her life, hopes and dreams. It was a big enough of a shock to me that I thought it was a joke or a misprint or both. Even more so because her history was tied to Arizona, American Indians U of A (blasphemous). That’s how completely off on a tangent this book went at the very end when time is of the essence. But that does not by any means discount the rest of the book in any way. This book comes highly recommended by me for any fans of this series who want to know the history of the first bugger invasion, and catch a glimpse of baby-Mazer.