Speaker for the Dead

Something different this time. Instead of a short review, an analysis of the story structure of the most recent sci-fi book I’ve read. The book in question is Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. It’s partly based on this essay/guide by Dan Harmon.


1. You (situation, comfort)

This part is for establishing the protagonist. This takes a while because we first get a deep dive into the world (which is maybe partly the protagonist, in an abstract way). There we follow two people who will later on die. Ender, the main character, only arrives (literally) later on.

It does establish the world we are living in (how long after Enders’ Game), which planet, what species.

2. Need (want something)

The thing that is not perfect is that the piggies (the other species on the planet) and humans need to live together. And change is happening, piggies are learning.

At the same time, a need is that for Ender (as Speaker for the Dead) to come speak the death of the xenobiologists. This is the actual call for adventure.

3. Go (new situation)

Ender is on his way in his spaceship. He has crossed the threshold, said goodbye to his life-friend (his sister). Or the go could be at the killing of the first xenobiologist.

The story goes from peace/observation to action and possible conflict.

4. Search (progress, adapt)

How can we communicate with the piggies? What story needs to be told here? Why were the xenobiologists killed? Who can we trust? Ender and others go on a search for the truth.

5. Find (no turning back)

Ender meets with the piggies.

6. Take (trouble, pay a price)

Congress (world government) is not happy. Rebel or sentence two people to years in prison. Option 1 is chosen. They meet with the female piggies.

Ender gets things done. Negotiates with the three living species and finds a way to get everything rolling.

7. Return (go back to where it started)

A new peace is established after much negotiation.

Ender gets his sister involved. They are a team again.

8. Change (now capable of change)

Truth has been found. The sermons have been spoken. The team is back together (with some new friends).