Earth Afire

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Earth Afire
Earth Afire.JPG
Book cover, first edition, Hardback
Author Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Country United States
Language English
Series Ender's Game series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
June 4, 2013
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN 0-7653-2905-0
Preceded by Earth Unaware
Followed by Earth Awakens

Earth Afire is a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, and the second book of the Formic Wars novels in the Ender's Game series.


"100 years before Ender’s Game, the aliens arrived on Earth with fire and death. This is the story of the First Formic War.

Victor Delgado beat the alien ship to Earth, but just barely; not soon enough to convince skeptical governments that there was a threat. They didn’t believe that until space stations and ships went up in sudden flame.

And when that happened, only Mazer Rackham and the Mobile Operations Police (MOPs) could move fast enough to meet the threat."[1]

Publishers Weekly review:

"Scott and Johnston explore human ignorance and compassion through a tapestry of galactic warfare in the second volume of the Formic Wars trilogy, collectively a prequel to Ender’s Game. After the independent asteroid mining ship El Cavador is attacked, Victor Delgado escapes and joins State Official Imala in warning mining magnate Ukko Jukes and Earth’s scientists of approaching hostile insectlike aliens called Formics. While diplomats seek a peaceful solution, Rena, a matriarch from El Cavador, gathers her surviving people aboard a scavenger ship, and damnable villain Lem Jukes, Ukko’s son, plans to overtake the Formic ships and defy his father’s iron grip. Against this operatic backdrop, heroic Lt. Mazer Rackham and his special forces stand alone against the deadly insectoids. Card and Johnston craft cinematically detailed environments for their space miners, thieves, and outcasts, probing the inner mechanics and conflicts of various groups. Social upheavals and political ineptitude are realized through rich characterization and brisk action, marrying the genre staple of alien invasion with conflicts of conscience."[2]

The Formic ship starts by destroying Kleopatra and a fleet of over 60 assorted ships near it. It launches three landing craft in southeast China, and the Formics use gas to defoliate the area and kill everyone. They create mountains of dead biomass near their landers.

Before the landing, Mazer Rackham has been training the Chinese military on a new aircraft, the HERC, in exchange for training on their new devices, the drill sledges, craft that can tunnel underground. During the Formic invasion, he saves Bingwen from them, but is then shot down. Bingwen uses a Medi-Assist device, voiced and then controlled by Mazer's romantic interest, Kim, to save his life, and the two set off to destroy the nearest Formic lander.

The MOPs head in as the Formics commence their invasion, and discover a new, efficient way to kill Formics by destroying their transport craft on the ground. They also head to the lander, where they save Bingwen and Mazer from a Formic attack. The lander has heavy shielding, but it doesn't extend underground. Mazer manages to find some drill sledges and HERCs for them, and they use the HERCs to bring the drill sledges into range of the lander, while Wit gets a tactical nuke to hit the lander with. They successfully attack the lander, destroying it, but one of the MOPs, Calinga, is killed in the process. Captain Shenzu then arrives, placing Mazer under arrest.

Victor and Imala, meanwhile, have just landed Victor on the surface of the Formic ship, using a disguised ship provided by Lem. Victor goes into the Formic ship through a gun port.


  • Victor Delgado, a young mechanic of great talent who, along with his father and a young apprentice, keeps El Cavador running
  • Rena Delgado, Victor's Mother
  • Lem Jukes, son of mining magnate Ukko Jukes and captain of the Makarhu, a corporate mining vessel
  • Captain DeWitt Clinton O'Toole, commander of the Mobile Operations Police (MOPs)
  • Lieutenant Mazer Rackham, a Maori soldier whom O'Toole is interested in recruiting
  • Bingwen, a young child whose parents and grandfather are killed in the Formic invasion.
  • Ukko Jukes, Lem Jukes' father
  • Imala Bootstamp, Victor's Luna Trade Department attorney
  • Captain Shenzu, a Chinese military officer

See also[edit]