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Earth Afire: The First Formic War #2    by Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston order for
Earth Afire
by Orson Scott Card
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Earth Afire follows Earth Unaware as the second in The First Formic War series by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. It reveals how humanity became aware of, and reacted to, the alien threat to its survival that led up to Card's brilliant Ender novels.

The first episode introduced those aboard the asteroid-mining ship, El Cavador, including young Victor Delgado, a mechanical genius. This ship was the first to spot an alien starship heading for Earth. Next we met Lem Jukes, heir to a wealthy space-mining corporation and captain of the Makarhu, testing a new gravity laser. They came into conflict even before the aliens started shooting.

Back on Earth, Mazer Rackham was rejected by Captain Wit O'Toole for his elite, international peacekeeping force, the Mobile Operations Police. And on the Moon, Apache Lunar Trade Department auditor Imala Bootstamp refused a bribe, and was sidelined. Earth Unaware ended as Victor risked his life to journey to Luna on a cargo rocket, and a small fleet of miners took on the aliens.

Now, as Earth Afire opens, Victor and Imala have uploaded a vid of the aliens to the net, but it's mainly being discounted as phony. In Southern China we're introduced to one of Card's young geniuses, Bingwen, a precociously brilliant child in a rice village. Bingwen sees and believes the vid; he makes what preparations he can. And Victor and Imala seek help from Lem's father, Ukko Jukes as Lem wends his way back to Luna.

Back on Earth, Mazer's team is sent to Southern China to deliver and consult on a new heavy equipment recovery copter (HERC), just in time for the alien landing there. They go AWOL to fight back and help civilians, including stubborn young Bingwen. Captain O'Toole's MOP eventually join them there. And, as the Formics devastate Earth, both Mazer and Victor find their own effective ways to fight back.

Earth Afire ends on a cliffhanger that will leave fans (myself included) anxiously awaiting the next episode in this thrilling and thoroughly engaging series!

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