This chapter is like an entire book stuffed into a chapter. For some thoughts about it, check out “What’s Up With the Ending?” But here’s an attempt at summarizing it:
Graff was tried but found innocent. His defense: I did what needed to be done. (Which is a terrible argument because we can never prove that things would’ve been different if he had prevented children from killing each other.)
Now Graff will become minister of colonization – because there are all those bugger worlds out there that can support human life and it would be a shame to let them go to waste.
Anderson is going to become a football commissioner.
They both know that Ender will never come back to Earth because he would be too dangerous – too many people would want to manipulate him. (Apparently, they only like it when they’re the ones doing the manipulating.) Also, Ender is twelve and kids going through puberty are just the worst.
Meanwhile – in space – Admiral Ender watched the video of Graff’s trial, so he knows he killed Stilson and Bonzo. He also knows that “it was really Ender himself under attack” (15.56).
Ender thinks it’s funny that people are trying him for killing bullies when he wiped out an entire alien species. But it’s not funny – he feels bad for all of the deaths he caused. He feels much worse than all the people he killed.
All the other kids go home to ticker-tape parades, and, we assume, free trips to Disney World.
But Ender is stuck in Eros, working on the colonization ships that are going out.
That is, until, one day, Valentine comes to convince him to go with her to a colony world. Which, of course, he does, because he’ll do anything his big sis asks him to do.
Out on the colony world, Ender’s most important job is to figure out what the buggers were like based on the stuff they left behind.
(Remember, they communicate telepathically, which means they didn’t leave any books or writing. So it’s all like: “this sharp object shows that they had to cut stuff.” In other words: archeology.)
Most ironic artifact left behind: a sling to carry baby buggers out to the field when the adults went to work. So, they might not have had individuality, but the buggers cared for their young, maybe better than humans do, considering what they put the Battle School kids through.
One day, while Ender is out scouting a location for a new colony ship, he discovers that part of the landscape is like the Fairyland game. Here’s the giant’s ribcage, and here’s the playground, and here’s the well, etc. But it’s obviously artificial. That is, the buggers clearly built this for Ender, out of his dreams.
When Ender goes to the tower room, he discovers something behind the mirror. Was it hundreds of little snakes that bite him to death? No (though Ender thinks he wouldn’t mind that), the buggers left him a queen pupa.
Then Ender contacts the buggers through telepathy, which is about the point where we get a little confused. (Like, if the buggers could contact him through telepathy, and they could mine his dreams for images, couldn’t they have contacted him sooner?)
The bugger tells Ender about the history of their species and how they’re sorry they killed people and they forgive humans for wiping them out.
Except, now that Ender has this queen pupa, he can restart the species. (Apparently the World Wildlife Fund’s slogan isn’t totally correct – extinction isn’t forever.)
Ender writes a pamphlet from the point of view of the hive-queen. He signs it “Speaker for the Dead,” which is the name of this chapter and also the sequel to this book.
This pamphlet becomes so popular that it starts a new religion and suddenly everyone needs a Speaker for the Dead to give them a eulogy. Including Peter. Thanks to the time travel effect of near-light speed travel, Peter is 77 years old while Ender and Val are still in their twenties. Which is a great way to rub it in Peter’s face. But no, Peter want to make up with Ender. They make up and Ender writes a book for Peter when he dies.
Then Ender and Val start planet-hopping, looking for a new place for the buggers to live. “He looked a long time” (15.199).