All posts by Jonathan Castro

All You Need to Know About Speaker for the Dead Part 1


Title: Speaker for the Dead

Author: Orson Scott Card

Publish Date: 1986

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates

Type: Novel

Genre: Science Fiction

Sub-Genre: Space Travel, Spaceships, Mutations, Genetics, Alien Encounters, Genocide, Alien Worlds, Romance, Advanced Technology, Relativity, Religion, Xenobiology, Communications, Artificial Intelligence, Computers

Plot Summary:

Ender Wiggin ended a war with mankind’s only other known enemy, the Buggers. It wasn’t so much that he ended it that made him famous, but the way he did it. And then he vanished from the sight of humanity, most believing it was because he was so distraught over what he had done.

As the years have passed, the details have become a bit foggy, but the effect is still quite clear. He exterminated the entire race of intelligent beings – pure xenocide.

After an act such as that, where would one go?

For Ender, it was taking up a new way of life. Going from planet to planet, seeking out other dead to speak of their lives. He speaks only the truth about them, good or bad. It clears up any doubts or wonder for the living. And because of that, others have taken up the cause and it has become an order; Speakers for the Dead.

Ender has a secret goal that guides his travels between worlds, and his sister that is his staunchest supporter, is his constant companion. With an earpiece, he is able to communicate with another of his supporters, an intelligence embedded in computer programming that guides him in his travels at, or faster than, the speed of light.

In his over three hundred years of life, due to relativity of course, he has met many people, only to have them die of old age as he only ages a scant few months.

And now a new race of beings has been discovered on a backwater planet. They’re being studied by the humans and contact is severely limited between the two species. Then, without any kind of warning, a cry goes up through the myriad of occupied planets that one of the researchers has been murdered by the little aliens.

And now Ender has been called to speak for the dead man…


Three hundred years ago, mankind completely obliterated an entire species of sentient life called ‘Buggers’. The Buggers, as their name implies, were a race of creatures that looked like bugs.

By sheer accident, a conflict arose when man thought that the Buggers were attacking and had begun a war. One man took control of the battle and devised a way to end it… permanently. He exterminated the entire species completely.


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The Best Book Review Outbound Flight Part 3


The action is fast-paced and non-stop, drawing you in with well-written and descriptive details that make the scenes come to life. The attention to the minor specifics of a space battle are enough to give the reader a clear image of the immense size of the craft and space involved.

The author presents the primary characters to the reader as if it was the first time that they are introduced, with attention given to their relative size and power. Using comparisons to other characters or forces, the reader is able to picture what the characters might look like – giving them ‘life’.

With each new technology that is introduced, the author generally provides just enough related science, explained in just enough detail to allow the newly added device or creation a believable existence.

The novel easily stands alone without the rest of the Star Wars Universe to back it up since the author created this work with a definite beginning, middle, and conclusion – with just enough of a question as to whether or not there might be a sequel to clear up the twists at the end.


Overall, the editing for the novel is generally good, however the number of spelling and grammatical errors exceed the maximum we allow per review without commenting on them. Although there were less than ten errors we found, a couple of them occurred at critical moments that caused the story to stutter a bit.

At one point it is explained that Jedi Padawan must meet a certain criteria to be advanced to the rank of Jedi Knight. Furthermore, it is also clarified that the Jedi Council holds that to be a very strict rule.

But for some reason, the council allows C’baoth’s Padawan to be ranked years ahead of time, based on observations made by Obi-Wan prior to the promotion. Even with the big ‘accomplishment’ that Padawan Jinzier is involved in, the promotion seemed to push our envelope of, ah, believability.

During a big space battle where many Jedi are mind-linked together, it is hard to believe that the Jedi would not be able to detect or do anything to prevent a major attack on their position. This event was of particular concern since the leading role Jedi, Master Jorus C’baoth, is portrayed as being omnipotent and able to sense danger readily, ‘handling’ multiple events with very little effort.


94 % Editor’s Choice


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The Best Book Review Outbound Flight Part 2

In a bid to recover the project and see it through to completion, Jedi Master C’baoth makes a deal with the Supreme Chancellor to mediate bogged down negotiations between the Corporate Alliance and the local government of Barlok. Upon the successful resolution of those negotiations, Chancellor Palpatine promises to do everything in his power to get Outbound Flight back on track.

While C’baoth negotiates, Darth Sidius is busy setting his forces in place to rid the galaxy of Outbound Flight and Master C’baoth at the same time. A fleet is dispatched to intercept the flight with orders to leave no witnesses.

But unknown to Darth Sidius, there are other civilizations within the unknown expanses and his fleet is intercepted instead. When Outbound Flight arrives on scene, hundreds of spaceships from multiple fleets are there, confounding the severely outnumbered Jedi defenders.

The enemy fleet’s guns are trained on the Jedi craft and as the bolts leap from one side of the battlefield to the other, it is not all clear which side has the upper hand. But when the Jedi weapons emplacements begin exploding, each Jedi can feel the deaths of their comrades.

And death comes to those that wait in sorrow…


This novel is incredibly hard to put down, and there are very few points where you are even able to take a ‘natural’ break from the action. All of the events taking place are packed in solidly with very limited transition time. The best part of that is that even when the author changes perspectives or moves to a different sub-plot, it is very clear ‘where’ you are, whether on a planet, a ship, or in someone’s thoughts.

The imagery provided by the author brings the people, places, and things all to life. Where new items are introduced, they are adequately backed up by enough of a background or description to make them realistic.

Although there are several grammatical errors and spelling errors, thankfully they are far enough from each other that the story doesn’t come to a screeching halt – so don’t let that sway your thoughts.

This novel is an EXCELLENT READ and does not require an in-depth knowledge of the Star Wars Universe in order to grasp what is happening. The author hits a home run with this story and you should definitely pick this up if you get the opportunity.

This is an excellent voyage into the uncharted reaches of the Pre-Clone Wars Galactic Empire.


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The Best Book Review Outbound Flight Part 1


Title: Outbound Flight – Star Wars

Author: Timothy Zahn

Publish Date: 2007

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Type: Novel

Genre: Science Fiction

Sub-Genre: Jedi Knight, Galactic Alliance, Galactic Empire, Republic, Force, Dark Side, Light Saber, Blaster Coup, Alien Encounters, Droids, Space Travel, Spaceships, Hyperspace, Alternative Civilizations, Light speed, Emperors, Religion, Rebellion, Alien Worlds, Smugglers, Murder, Armed Conflict, Treason, Spies, Assassination, Sith Lords, Advanced Medical, Advanced Weapons, Advanced Technology, Space Exploration, Colony Ships, Colonization, Gravity Well Generator

Plot Summary:

A far-reaching plan has been developed into a mission to explore beyond the edges of the known galaxy and create colonies on any habitable worlds they discover on their trek. With the ongoing power struggles within the governmental ranks, getting funding to complete the project becomes a matter of urgency for Jedi Master C’baoth as the threat of cancellation looms in the near future.

In a bid to get the mission back on track, C’boath volunteers for a high profile mission to mediate a conflict in a border system. Together with his Padawan learner, Lorane Jinzier, he completes the mission thus gaining leverage to get the Outbound Flight project fully funded and a sizable number of Jedi as part of the crew.

As the mission embarks, Darth Sidius moves forward with his own plans to rid the galaxy of the Outbound Flight and Jedi Master C’baoth. Meanwhile, a short distance into uncharted space, Outbound Flight runs in the Chiss Ascendancy, an unknown race with a master strategist in command.

Caught unprepared for a battle on multiple fronts, Outbound Flight is in dire straits. Even with the advanced Jedi techniques C’baoth has been training the Jedi to use for defense, it is not certain what the outcome will be.

When a third, also unknown fleet arrives on the battle scene, the outlook for Outbound Flight dims even more.


In the times leading up to the Clone Wars, the Empire is blossoming its ranks with citizens overpopulating their planets. This explosion is responsible for causing strife and anger at the Galactic government for not meeting even their basic needs for freedom and prosperity.

In an attempt to alleviate the issues, a plan to explore unknown space is devised. The idea is to locate additional habitable planets as they progress through the unknown, depositing colonists and a few Jedi to support each of the new colonies.

The preparations were taking so long that the Imperial Senate reduced funding significantly, threatening to end the project altogether.


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