In Orson Scott Card's Ender series (Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind), is Jane immortal? Once she moves into her human body, does that mean she will be subject to aging as normal humans are? If her body dies, will her aiua move into the mothertree network, or the restored ansible network? Can she go Outside and create a new body if she needs to?

Are there any references that I missed in the trilogy (aside from Miro telling her she better not die because otherwise FTL travel ends), or source information from outside the books (interviews with Orson Scott Card, etc.) that address these questions?

  • 1
    +1 Good question: is she human or not?
    – jv42
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 11:09

3 Answers 3


She is not immortal, as she was almost killed early on. But she is very difficult to kill. Here's a few key points.

  • She needs access to a large network, preferably connected via ansible.
  • She can be scrubbed from a computer system, but that system must be disconnected first, or else she will just arrive there again.
  • If she is scrubbed from all networks, or at least reduced to very few machines operating on said networks, then she will die. She requires a certain amount of processing power, which seems to be more than a typical computer can generate.
  • Later on in the series (Xenocide/Children of the Mind), she is able to go outside of her body, to places such as the mothertree network, so that even more complicates things. The mothertree network would need to somehow be destroyed as well.
  • 6
    I'm specifically asking about after she inhabits Young Val's body, though. What happens when her body dies? It was explained that she cannot live solely in the mothertree network, as that would result in her losing her identity should she stay there too long (as well as changing the identity of the mothertrees). It was implied that the ansible connections would be opened up (Miro had the admiral send that as a "recommendation" at the end), but not confirmed. Even if the connections are opened, its not clear if she can go back permanently to the ansibles now that she has become "human".
    – Beofett
    Commented May 6, 2011 at 21:47
  • I would like to add, that it is fairly easy to imagine that Jane could live on the network created by the new colonies. Throughout the Xenocide/Children of the Mind books, they colonize many new planets with both Pequeninos and Formics. Both of these beings are capable of filotic connections. Its safe to assume that as these colonies grow, that Jane's prospective non-ansible networks will grow in size dramatically. The reason for Jane being unable to stay in the mothertree network, was due to its size. It was incredibly small compared to what she had been a part of.
    – Dylan
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 14:49

The Question boils down to, "What is immortality?"

If it is "Continued interaction with the physical world in a meaningful way," then no, she can, by her own admission, be cut off from that.

If, instead, it refers to a soul's being indestructible... Remember that Mr. Card is a man of practiced faith; he's mentioned this in interviews and author's notes. Mr. Card's flavor of religion does axiomatically believe in an immortal soul; it's safe to say that Mr. Card is at least open to that idea.

I find the presentation of Jane, and the Buggers and Pequeniños to be an examination of Soul versus Body...

  • how many souls are in a Bugger colony?

    At least one per queen. Possibly but not of necessity more.

  • Is a Pequeniño's soul still in the tree?

    Apparently, especially since the mind is definitely still in the tree

  • Is Jane an ensouled Network? Or a soul embodied in a network?

    Perhaps. This is, in fact, what I believe the central question to be pondered is for the existence of the character of Jane. We are to ask ourselves whether she's as human as a bugger colony, or a pequeniño. She's the third alien species of note in the Enderverse. If she is not a soul, then are any of the others? Are we?

Noting Card's theistic beliefs, Speaker and Xenocide both lead us to question the nature of Death. Jane is no exception.

  • 1
    The specific context of "what is immortality" as it regards this question is spelled out as "Once she moves into her human body, does that mean she will be subject to aging as normal humans are? If her body dies, will her aiua move into the mothertree network, or the restored ansible network? Can she go Outside and create a new body if she needs to?". However, you raise very good points regarding the context of Card's beliefs and the themes within the series, so +1 from me.
    – Beofett
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 22:45

Miro went outside on that first trip specifically to create himself a new body. I would have assumed that he would be able to help Jane, but it was not mentioned in the books, so it was not possible?

When it came to the crunch and Jane needed a body it was the "Young Val" body torn from Enders auia through emotional distress that she moved into rather than creating her own.

So maybe you can't make a better body unless you are unhappy with the one you have? And now that Jane has a physical body she will be able to accomplish what Miro was able to?

In my imaginings Jane, Miro, Peter and Wang Mu are all skipping across the everything with Jane facilitating the movement.

In the books there was reference to the body's own auia keeping itself "together" during trips outside so I had also thought that Miro may have begun unconsciously "recycling" himself to his own best self every time Jane took him outside.

  • 1
    You allude to an answer here but you should be more explicit with answering the question of whether she is immortal or not now. Also this could do with some supporting evidence (quotes) edited in to back it up.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 9:01

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