New York: Tor, 1986. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a superlative, double signed first edition, first printing of the novel that won Orson Scott Card back-to-back Hugo and Nebula Awards – making him the only author to win both of science fiction’s top prizes in consecutive years. Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender’s Game (1985). Superlative condition, a full, dated signature, and an additional inscription to a science fiction bookstore proprietor make this copy a prize. The title page is boldly signed with Orson Scott Card’s full name and the date “20 June 1987”. An additional inscription in four lines on the half-title page reads: “Dan - | Thanks for keeping the | SF audience alive in NC - | Scott”. The inscription recipient was Daniel “Dan” Breen, an avid collector and proprietor (from 1985-2003) of a science fiction and fantasy bookshop - Second Foundation Bookstore – in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ender’s Game was published the same year that Breen became Second Foundation’s proprietor. Card may well have signed this copy of Speaker for the Dead for Breen in his North Carolina shop while on a promotion tour.
The book benefits from having been owned from the start by a serious collector. Condition is as-new, the dust jacket crisp with no wear, the binding pristine and pleasingly stiff, as if only opened when signed, the contents bright and entirely unmarked except by the author. There are no discernible flaws or wear to report; we have not encountered an inscribed copy in better condition. Dan Breen’s bookshop had originally been called “Foundation”; he re-named the store “Second Foundation” in 1985, the year he became the proprietor and Orson Scott Card published Ender’s Game.
This convergence proved remarkably apropos to this inscribed copy of Speaker for the Dead; Card credits the genesis of his story to an idea that first came to him when he was sixteen years old after having read Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. This idea eventually became Card’s first published science fiction story, “Ender’s Game”, in the August 1977 edition of Analog. Ender’s Game earned Card the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. But it took until 1985 for the idea to become the fully-fledged novel that won Card both the Nebula Award (1985) and Hugo Award (1986) for best novel.
Ender’s Game introduced us to Ender Wiggin, the brilliant boy soldier brutally honed and manipulated into unwittingly committing xenocide. Despite Ender’s success, Card has alleged that Speaker for the Dead is actually the story he meant to write and that Ender’s Game was intended primarily as prequel and setup. Ender’s Game terminates with Ender as an anonymous itinerant speaker for the dead, secretly carrying with him from world to world the hibernating last living member of the species he had nearly eradicated. In Speaker for the Dead, three thousand years have elapsed while Ender has traveled the stars at relativistic speeds. Another alien race - ostensibly intelligent but dangerous and inscrutable - has been discovered on a colony world of Lusitania.
Amid a host of compellingly drawn characters and a morally and intellectually complex mystery, Ender in his role as speaker for the dead finds himself also speaking for a living alien race. Rich, complex, at times slow in unfolding, and intentionally emotionally affecting, Speaker for the Dead won the 1986 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1987 Hugo Award for Best Novel. This was a tour de force achievement for Card following the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Ender’s Game, of note not just for being an unprecedented accomplishment, but for having been accomplished with a sequel so conspicuously disparate from the preceding novel. Three additional sequels have followed Speaker for the Dead. Xenocide (1991) and Children of the Mind (1996) continue the story begun on Lusitania. Ender in Exile (2008) breaks the chronological sequence, turning to the story of Ender’s first voyage from Earth after the events of Ender’s Game but before Speaker for the Dead. Item #005716