Second entry in the prequel series (Earth Unaware, 2012), set many years before the deeds of the Ender's Game novels.
In China, young genius Bingwen ponders an Internet file seeming to show hostile insectlike aliens. The file was distributed by Victor Delgado, last survivor of a space mining family destroyed by those same invaders, in a futile and desperate effort to warn Earth of the approaching menace. Instead, Victor’s treated like an unimportant minor criminal, while his evidence is ignored. Lem Jukes, meanwhile, heir to a powerful space mining corporation, with whom Victor tangled in space, reaches Earth just days ahead of the alien vessel. He knows precisely the danger the aliens represent and intends to use the situation to wrest control of the business away from his coldly indifferent father, Ukko. Despite everything, the authorities decide the Formics probably aren’t hostile and send an official delegation into space. The Formics contemptuously blow the delegation to atoms and launch massive projectiles toward the planet. Mazer Rackham of New Zealand’s Special Air Services happens to be in China on a training mission when the projectiles arrive and transform themselves into vast invulnerable fortresses, against which the Chinese defenders are helpless. Capt. Wit O'Toole’s Mobile Operations Police desperately seek a way to enter China and join the battle against the Formics. The sections that feature highly intelligent, self-reliant children—Card’s trademark—are as excellent as ever; elsewhere there’s plenty of solid action, well-developed characters and prose that’s often disappointingly clumsy.
Another solidly engrossing installment, where the aliens are really just a sideshow: What we’re witnessing is how and why Ender’s child armies came to be.