Given some of the painfully obvious misunderstandings of basic kitchen physics and beyond that how objects behave in while in orbit or during a transit, I came to an early conclusion that Orson Scott Card was just lending his name to this series. This was written mostly by his collaborator, whose name I won’t mention since the following review could be construed as slander. Card could not have been the one at the keyboard. When Card invents new physical laws it is done as intentional and necessary part of the story, not out of ignorance or by accident. I stopped figuratively rolling my eyes when a spaceship has to be:
- stopped to make repairs. (Stopped relative to what? Where does all this reaction mass come from to stop and start up again? How is being "stopped" out where the vacuum is so hard that hydrogen molecules are whole fractions of a millimeter apart any safer than continuing along one's trajectory?) The same idea applies to the supposedly nail biting section where two ships are docking while still traveling at high “speed”. Relative to each other they are barely moving as fast as a two month old human can crawl. Their speed relative to anything else in the universe is irrelevant unless they happen to be about to crash into it while docking with each other.
- accelerated and decelerated for increasingly lengthy periods to accustom a passenger to a destination's gravity, when there is supposedly some urgency to the passenger's arrival. (If reaction mass is so easy to come by, why not just accelerate half way and decelerate the other half? Certainly that would save an enormous amount of time and frankly make calculating the trajectory a lot simpler.)
- insulated against loss of heat and actively heated to keep folks warm. (Fer Pete's sake, getting rid of excess heat generated by day to day activities is a major design consideration for the space lab. No outside atmosphere to conduct it away by convection. Even out in the Kuiper belt this would be true. In space the only way to lose heat is by radiating it away – implacable but really really slow.)
Then there is the handy little "heat extractor" tool that seems to be in every mechanic's back pocket. Making this seemingly inconsequential thing possible would require such a massive overhaul of thermodynamics that it makes just about all the other technological marvels in the three novels pale by comparison. Don’t even get me started on “Laserized Plasma”. I decided early on that the author of this derivative series is not trying to be reasonably true to even old fashioned table top chemistry and Newtonian physics let alone any newfangled "Little Doctor" physics which (by the way) is introduced in this series long before it was historically supposed to have been introduced in the original Card novels.
I found that any relation to the original story line that is supposedly in this series' future is almost coincidental. I stopped counting discrepancies after the first ten, but it became a bit of a game which kept me slogging on.
This derivative series is a passable story about the human condition and good versus evil, using some of the same names as we found in the original series. Little good guys are seriously hurt by indifferent big bad guys but little good guys ultimately triumph. It takes place in a universe where physical laws governing basic processes like heating, cooling, gravity, and conservation of momentum can be temporarily changed or ignored if they are inconvenient without even having to invoke some futuristic technological development.
The aliens are shown to be as dangerous a threat to humanity as a tidal wave is to a coastal city, and are given little more character development than one would expect to be given to a tidal wave. It does moderately well as a way to pass the time once one's expectations have been appropriately reduced and one’s suspension of disbelief is given free reign.