Tor publishers have released the first chapter of Earth Unaware. This Ender’s Game prequel co-written by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston is due out July 17, 2012. If you want to read more details about the book click here, or read the first chapter below:
Victor didn’t go to the airlock to see Alejandra leave the family forever, to marry into the Italian clan. He didn’t trust himself to say good-bye to his best friend, not without revealing how close he had come to disgracing the family by falling in love with someone in his own asteroid-mining ship.
The Italians were a four-ship operation, and their lead ship, a behemoth of a digger named Vesuvio, had been attached to El Cavador for a week, as the families traded goods and information. Victor liked the Italians. The men sang; the women laughed often; and the food was like nothing he had ever eaten, with colorful spices and creamy sauces and oddly shaped pasta noodles. Victor’s own invention, an HVAC booster that could increase the central heating temperature on the Italians’ ships by as much as eleven degrees, had been an immediate hit with the Italians. “Now we will all wear one sweater instead of three!” one of the Italian miners had said, to huge laughter and thunderous applause. The Italians had been so smitten with Victor’s booster, in fact, that it had brought in more trade goods and prestige than anything else the family had offered. So when Concepción called Victor in to talk to him just before the Italians decoupled, he assumed she was going to commend him.
“Close the door, Victor,” said Concepción.
Victor did so.
The captain’s office was a small space adjacent to the helm. Concepción rarely closed herself in here, preferring instead to be out with the crew, matching or surpassing them in the amount of labor they put in each day. She was in her early seventies, but she had the energy and command of someone half her age.
“Alejandra is going with the Italians, Victor.”
Victor blinked, sure that he had misheard.
“She’s leaving from the airlock in ten minutes. We debated whether it was wise to even tell you beforehand and allow you two to say good-bye to each other, thinking perhaps that it might be easier for you to find out afterward. But I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for that, and I doubt you’d forgive me either.”
Victor’s first thought was that Concepción was telling him this because Alejandra, whom he called Janda for short, was his dearest friend. They were close. He would obviously be devastated by her departure. But a half second later he understood what was really happening. Janda was sixteen, two years too young to marry. The Italians couldn’t be zogging her. The family was sending her away. And the captain of the ship was telling Victor in private mere minutes before it happened. They were accusing him. They were sending her off because of him.
“But we haven’t done anything wrong,” said Victor.
“You two are second cousins, Victor. We would never be able to trade with the other families if we suddenly developed a reputation for dogging.”
Dogging, from “endogamy”: marrying inside the clan, inbreeding. The word was like a slap. “Dogging? But I would never in a million years marry Alejandra. How could you even suggest that we would do such a thing?” It was vile to even think it; to the belter families, it was on the wrong side of the incest taboo.
Concepción said, “You and Alejandra have been the closest of friends since your nursery years, Victor. Inseparable. I’ve watched you. We’ve all watched you. In large gatherings, you always seek each other out. You talk to each other constantly. Sometimes you don’t even need to talk. It’s as if you know precisely what the other is thinking and you need share only a passing glance between you to communicate it all.”
“She’s my friend. You’re going to exile her because we communicate well with each other?”
“Your friendship isn’t unique, Victor. I know of several dozen such friendships on this ship. And they are all between a husband and his wife.”
“You’re sending Alejandra away on the basis that she and I have a romantic relationship. When we don’t.”
“It is an innocent relationship, Victor. Everyone knows that.”
“ ‘Everyone’? Who do you mean exactly? Has there been a Family Meeting about us?”
“Only a Council. I would never make this decision on my own, Victor.”
Not much of a relief. The Council consisted of all the adults over forty. “So my parents agree to this?”
“And Alejandra’s parents as well. This was a difficult decision for all of us, Victor. But it was unanimous.”
Finish reading the first chapter here! Thank you reader philoticweb for the tip!