There's a sci-fi novel I encountered years ago, and I've recently become fascinated by the premise, but I cannot for the life of me remember author or title.

The premise, as I recall, is this:

An Armada is heading from earth to another planet with the mission of destroying that planet. The reason for this mission is not an act of hostility by the planet's inhabitants, but rather because this (intelligent, I think) alien species requires a certain virus in order to reach maturity.

The problem is that this virus is deadly to humans, with a mortality rate of 100%, and presumably there were some serious problems with this virus at some point in the recent past.

The book (if I'm not mistaken) focuses on the actual voyage of the task force, with various characters becoming uncertain of the morality of what they are about to do. Hence, there is a great deal of moral debate in the narrative.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Welcome to SFF.SE! You may want to take the tour, to best understand how our site works. I recommend reading How to ask a good story-ID question? and thenedit in any additional information it makes you think of. For instance: When and where did you encounter the book? Do you remember anything more about the book physically (the cover picture, the primary cover color, size, binding)?
    – RDFozz
    Jan 11, 2019 at 19:50
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    I've read this and I don't even remember: are humans waiting for it to mature, or are the aliens? (title's kinda funny ;)
    – Mazura
    Jan 12, 2019 at 0:15
  • probably the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/229506/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Apr 6, 2020 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you're looking for Xenocide, the 3rd book of the original Ender's Game series.

On Lusitania, Ender finds a world where humans and pequeninos and the Hive Queen could all live together. However, Lusitania also harbors the descolada, a virus that kills all humans it infects, but which the pequeninos require in order to become adults. The Starways Congress so fears the effects of the descolada, should it escape from Lusitania, that they have ordered the destruction of the entire planet, and all who live there. With the Fleet on its way, a second xenocide seems inevitable.

All the information you've posted covered within Xenocide itself, as the synopsis from Wikipedia shows. But for the full story, including how the above information was uncovered then you'll need to read Speaker for the Dead first, and then follow up with Children of the Mind.

The Starways Congress is Earth/Human colonies government.
Pequeninos are the sentient aliens.
The Descolada is the alien virus, which is deadly to humans.

There are some parts of the book that cover the voyage of the task force on its way out. These are more of an aside than the main plot however. They do debate the morality of their actions, with a lot of the discussion focusing on the outcome of Ender's Game, and how perception of that war changed in the millennia that has passed since its conclusion.

  • 1
    If this is the correct answer, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 11, 2019 at 19:49
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    For some reason, i'm really happy when someone answers with a book i have read. Maybe here it is also because i'm happy to hear about Pequeninos.
    – aluriak
    Jan 11, 2019 at 21:28
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    My thought, as well, until I got to the part about "The book focuses on the actual voyage of the task force". Jan 11, 2019 at 22:14
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    @user3067860 I may have edited the answer since you loaded the page. Xenocide definitely includes scenes where the head of the task force states his willingness to be known as "The second Xenocide" to protect humanity. Ender's own book being the reason he is now vilified across human society.
    – Jontia
    Jan 11, 2019 at 22:16
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    @user3067860 The details in the question seem to be blended from Xenocide and Children of the Mind. In the latter there is a lot of discussion of where the descolada came from, and a military force heading to Lusitania to deal with the virus.
    – Upper_Case
    Jan 11, 2019 at 23:20

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