As his second novel (revised version, like with “Hot Sleep“) it is in some ways quite raw. The first third of the book was essentially transsexual erotic fiction. So if that was the bait, consider me hooked. I somehow don’t think it was.
The story was told from a first person future perspective. This was probably the novel’s biggest fault. This perspective naturally leads you to piece together plot points that the reader has yet to see. Thus, outside of aspects of the universe that you haven’t yet been introduced to, there is no way to surprise the reader.
Luckily for Card, his strength lies in the ability to create detailed and interesting worlds to explore. So even though our hero Lanik Mueller never did anything that he hadn’t previously hinted that he would do, his wanderings are still rather interesting. In some sense, he has a very Odysseus-eque travel. On this universe-centered story telling, “Treason” is most similar to his other works “Hot Sleep” and “Wyrms” and “Hart’s Hope”. All four tend to decentralize the importance of the characters and see them more as eventual and necessary arrivals on the stage of the great time-dependent differential equation of their respective worlds. Lanik Mueller isn’t important, but someone like him is.
Unfortunately for us Lanik Meuller seems to operate with the our modern day moral structure and not his own. This is a consistency with Card though. The genius of Heinlein is that he creates elaborate places that have their own detailed and intense corresponding ethical structure. And even while doing so, he denies the existence of absolute moral relativism (see “Farnham’s Freehold”). The genius of Asimov is that he was able to single-handedly define and expand the morality of robots and AI. The genius of Bradbury is to point out those human universalities that exist regardless of technology level. From all of the Card I have read (which is a lot) he never seems to care about these things.
The foreign aspects of his works are in the science/magic alone, and the similarities lie in that his characters act as if they were to pinnacle of modern personality types. Perhaps his books have a broader appeal because there is some cold, familiar comfort in this setup. However, in retrospect, I am tempted to think it is somewhat of a cop out.
Maybe he isn’t good at mixing up moral frames of reference so he steers away from it in general. Which is fine. But this gets back to my main criticism that the main characters are more static than my bar of interest would normally allow. Luckily, his early works tended to be short, not giving time for his characters to do much other than explore the world.
So in summary, I liked it. I couldn’t put it down. But whether this was because I was fascinated with his uncomfortable writing of transsexual, lesbian, and gay sexuality or whether I liked the world is hard to say.