In this post, I will be analyzing how the protagonists of the book, The Swarm by Orson Scott Card, solve the conflict. Like any other book, The Swarm has many conflicts, but I decided to choose a larger one: The Formics are coming back for another war, but where are they? And when are they coming? Over the course of the book, Mazer, Bingwen, and Vico’s crew are able to solve all these answers, but can they solve them in time? Below are some quotes detailing their pursues to solve the life-or-death questions, accompanied with cute visuals!
“Edimar had detected the approaching Formic fleet and alerted the world of the coming second war.” (Card 74)
After the supposed victory of the First Formic War in China, the whole world was in celebration. But Edimar, the same girl who first detected the Formic fleet before the war, saw that a larger “mother-ship” was heading towards Earth. War was inevitable. As soon as the Hegemon heard about this, the whole world was sent into a frenzy: economically and apocalyptically.
“‘That’s alien tech, Vico. Formics are at that rock.’” (85)
Again, Edimar and Vico are able locate the specific locations of the Formic fleet. In a twist, it is revealed that the Formics have already set up shop inside the solar system. A small crew of Formics on a random asteroid is all the confirmation the humans need to know that they are hopelessly behind schedule. The Formics are in the solar system 8 years ahead of time, and the humans barely have any space battleships in operation, much less a fleet.
“‘We’re looking at three thousand Formic ships sitting on asteroids in our solar system. Right now.’” (208)
Vico’s team worked together to pull a scan of the solar system, trying to locate any possible location of other Formic-ridden asteroids. The hopelessness of the situation escalates as Edimar solemnly declares that the entire Kuiper belt has been infiltrated, with the possibility to wipe out Earth at any given moment.
“But why were the slugs here to begin with? What was their purpose? What did the Formics want pellet of metal? Why had they build this habitat around this rock? All of his struggles and fighting and nearly, and he still had zero answers to give the IF.” (300)
The Formics could’ve easily demolished Earth but why haven’t they? That’s what Victor ponders as he infiltrates one of the Formic asteroids. He discovers that tiny slugs brought by the Formics themselves have been munching on the asteroid, pooping out any metals or ice that they come across and purified in their internal digestive system somehow. These slugs must have a reason, but what is it? More research and spy work is needed.
“‘This was their strategy all long,’ said Bingwen. ‘Not to bring their fleet here, but to build it here right under our noses’” (452-453)
The first child soldiers, predecessors of the Battle School soldiers, are trained in China, and under Mazer’s command, are sent up into space to infiltrate yet another Formic asteroid. Their objective: to find more about why the Formics are holing up in asteroids but not attacking. Bingwen, a child soldier and long time friend of Mazer, floats into the artificial Formic habitat, only to discover that the metal pellets made by the slugs are used to make hulmat, the very material used to create the Formic battleships. The Formics plan to build their ships organically inside asteroids, and in a synchronized movement, break out and launch a surprise attack on Earth when they least expect it.
To find out how the war escalates, wait with the rest of Ender’s fans for the next book, The Hive, to release sometime this year! While you’re waiting, you can check out the rest of the Ender’s Game Universe, and read up on the First Formic War trilogy to fully understand the situation going on in The Swarm.