Warning: Major ‘Speaker for the Dead’ Spoilers
“The first life is within the mothertree, where we never see the light, and where we eat blindly the meat of our mother’s body and the sap of the mothertree. The second life is when we live in the shade of the forest, the half-light, running and walking and climbing, seeing and singing and talking, making with our hands. The third life is when we reach and drink from the sun, in the full light at last, never moving except in the wind; only to think, and on those certain days when the brothers drum on your trunk, to speak to them. Yes, that’s the third life.”
“Humans don’t have the third life.”
Human looked at him, puzzled.
“When we die, even if you plant us, nothing grows. There’s no tree. We never drink from the sun. When we die, we’re dead.”
—’Speaker for the Dead’ by Orson Scott Card, page 340
When Ender explains the human life cycle to Human, the piggy, he makes it clear that humans can’t enter the piggy’s so-called “third life” (becoming a tree after death). We’re guessing Ender never heard of Bios Urn.
Bios Urn, designed by Gerard Moline in 1999, is a biodegradable urn containing coconut shell, compact peat, and cellulose that turns human remains into a tree. After ashes are inserted into the urn, the urn is planted with a seed that eventually germinates into a tree. Users have the option of changing out the tree seed for another type of plant seed, but the overall idea is the same. Cemetery space is saved and humans are “reborn” into a new life. Although, to be honest, we doubt use of this product will turn anyone into a sentient tree.
Have you ever thought, “This reminds me of ‘Ender’s Game,’” while reading an article? Our new column, ‘Beyond Fiction’ is dedicated to sharing those stories. Each Saturday we’ll publish a piece both reminiscent and beyond the fiction of ‘Ender’s Game’. Of course, if you’d like to nominate a feature, please contact us.