Orson Scott Card – The Call of Earth

{31518284-A00B-4E73-9B83-0773AE0E9931}Img100The Call of Earth continues the story of Nafai, his family, and the few other people selected by the Oversoul to leave the city of Basilica, and their former lives.

Book 1: Memory Of Earth

When the human refugees from a ruined Earth founded a colony on the planet Harmony, they determined that this world would not be devastated by the endless cycle of vicious warfare that had characterised human life from the beginning.

They didn’t try to change human nature. Instead they installed a powerful computer, called the Oversoul, and gave it the task of governing human affairs by subtly influencing human minds. That was millions of years ago. Now the Oversoul is growing weak, breaking down. It must be returned to Earth, to the master computer called the Keeper of Earth, to be repaired. The Oversoul must have human help to make that journey.

But as the Oversoul grows weaker, a great warrior has arisen, stronger, smarter perhaps, than Nafai and his allies. His name is Moozh, and he is deliberately flouting the will of the Oversoul. He has won control of an army using forbidden technology. Now he is aiming his soldiers straight at Basilica, that strong fortress above the Plains.

Who will stop him? Basilica remains in turmoil. Wetchik and his sons, Nafai and Issib, Elemak and Mebbekew, are not strong enough to resist alone. Can Rasa and her allies defeat him through intrigue, or will Moozh take the city and all who are in it?

And meanwhile, in their dreams, the most sensitive people of the planet Harmony hear the call of the Keeper of Earth.

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Mostly because it jumps in time a lot and while it all comes to a head when the book is nearing the end, some of the scenes seemed confusing and overly complicated. You have war, you have a dirty woman cast in the desert and left to starve, you have daughters given to the city of women and a general who becomes a husband to all..

The dialogue is witty and there is a lot of religious references, casting an interesting set of questions about the nature of God. If the Oversoul, a machine, can give people visions and communicate its will to the people of Harmony – does that make it a God?

I’m saying that the story the Oversoul tells me fits all the facts that I see. Your story, in which I’m endlessly deceived, can also explain all those facts. I have no way of knowing that your story is not true-but you have no way of knowing that my story isn’t true. So I will choose the one that I love. I’ll choose the one that, if it’s true, makes this reality one worth living in. I’ll act as if the life I hope for is real life, and the life that disgusts me-your life, your view of life-is the lie. And it is a lie. You don’t even believe in it yourself.

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I suppose a primitive culture would take the word of a robot who has been operational for millions of years and which knows how the human development cycles look like and what can bring destruction and death. I like the fact that the Oversoul did not control people in the sense that free will was completely erased and nobody could do an evil deed. But the rapists and murderers and thieves only affected a small number of people. Machines like guns and tanks and bombs can kill a lot more so the Oversoul made the words and the thoughts of these words to be forgotten immediately. People could not grasp mass killings.

Some of the subjects in the book are a bit unsavoury. This woman was given dreams to go and sleep with a man so many times that she bore two daugters (both given to the Basilica women) and then went and married another man and had 7 more children because the Oversoul wanted it so? I was a bit confused.

Then it seems that the man she slept the first time becomes the general who attacks Basilica and manages to conquer it and create a peace treaty with the ruling priestess and he marries a woman of his choosing who apparently was his own daughter. Imagine the shock they would have felt had the marriage been consummated.

Again, this is a sci-fi book but very little accent is put on the science-fiction part. It’s more about lineage and who is who and who’s done what. Bored me to tears to a point where I started skipping chapters (be it a good omen or a bad one)

Too much religion for my liking.

“If I wanted to doubt, then I could doubt endlessly … but at some point a person has to stop questioning and act, and at that point you have to trust something to be true. You have to act as if something is true, and so you choose the thing you have the most reason to believe in, you have to live in the world that you have the most hope in. I follow [God], I believe [God], because I want to live in the world that [God] has shown me.”



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