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Earth Unaware (The First Formic War) by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
 (Read by Stefan Rudnicki and Cast)
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Macmillan Audio Audio CD  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781427221544
Date: 17 July 2012 List Price $44.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Orson Scott Card's Website / Aaron Johnston's Website / Link to print version / Show Official Info /

Earth Unaware -- Great techno-SF by great authors, Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. Two starships are mining far away from Earth and they meet under some very strange and interesting circumstances.

I thoroughly enjoyed Earth Unaware. I am relatively new to the SF genre and I enjoy techno-SF best. Earth Unaware certainly captured my interest.

The story has three plot lines. Two of the three are aboard starships. The first is the El Cavador and is family-owned, referred to as free miners. The family is small and tightly knit. They transfer their mining ores back to Earth or Luna, the Earth's moon, via small unmanned shuttle ships. The other starship is a corporate-owned starship owned by Jukes Limited, one of the largest mining companies. The captain of the corporate ship is Lem Jukes, son of the owner. The two spacecraft meet, literally, when the free minors are anchored to an asteroid for mining and the corporate ship bumps them out of the way to use the asteroid for itself.

The free miners sustain a lot of damage, but they survive the bump. All during the time moored to the asteroid, El El Cavador's scanners find a suspicious object far away. As it gets closer, El Cavador's crew discovers it is very large and traveling rapidly toward Earth. Since their communication systems were damaged in the bump, they have no way to communicate this information back to Earth or Luna. They elect to convert one of their mining shuttles to carry a crewmember to Luna with the information they discovered about the unknown object. The two starships do meet again later in the novel, but I will save that suspense for the readers. The third plot line is about a super elite fighting force called MOPS. They are international and go to places on Earth that need military help, do their business and get out. They are more or less an international super seal team. They don't appear to have any tie to the plot lines of the two starships, but see the next paragraph for more info.

I did cheat a little bit. I knew Earth Unaware was a prequel to a larger series, but being relatively new to the SF genre, I knew nothing about it. I knew that most people who read my review will have read the larger series so I looked it up on wikipedia. I found the larger series is called the Ender's Game series and is a 12-part series of the Formic Wars and their attack on earth. I figured that was the basic plotline of the larger series as I read Earth Unaware.

Earth Unaware is the first of a three-part prequel and the second will be issued later in 2013. I don't think I am giving away the plot when I say that the unknown large object that the free miners discover turns out to be a hostile alien starship headed to Earth. Although Earth Unaware does not specifically progress that far, I expect the MOPS force will be key in the effort to help Earth fight the aliens.

The unspoken commentary that I found in the book is the concept of family. The free miners are considered uncivilized by the larger corporate miners, and the truth is anything but. The free miners are a family yes, but they are extremely careful to avoid inbreeding and to keep the gene pool strong. They support each other, care for each other, train and share the workload for both the mining and supporting the equipment on the ship to sustain life. Lem Jukes of the corporate ship is always mistrusting his father and considering himself superior. He is completely opposite of the free miners that he considers to be savages.

Another interesting tidbit of information that I found (that has nothing to do with the story) is that 12 billion people are living on Earth, roughly double what we have now. I always wonder how large Earth's population will need to be before we move out into the cosmos and set up colonies and space stations there. I just found that data point interesting.

I 'read' Earth Unaware on a CD audio disk set published by Macmillan Audio. The story is the same whether written or spoken, and I loved it. The audio version has voice acting which I think is very good. They build suspense and show emotions. It's fun. The end of the audio disk includes an interview with Orson Scott Card. He talks about his writing style and how he feels it lends itself to being read aloud or performed. Audio books are great to listen to in your car. They make long trips seem shorter and provide a welcome relief to the never-ending car dealer and mattress radio commercials on the way home from work.

I have read several of Orson Scott Card's books and I have liked them all. Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston lived up to everything I expected and hoped for. I can't wait to read the next one.

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