Laddertop, Volume 1

( 4 )


An original science fiction manga by the bestselling author of Ender’s Game and his daughter

Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen— four giant towers known as Ladders that rise 36,000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire planet. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, only a skilled crew of ...

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An original science fiction manga by the bestselling author of Ender’s Game and his daughter

Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen— four giant towers known as Ladders that rise 36,000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire planet. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, only a skilled crew of children can perform the maintenance necessary to keep the stations up and running.

Back on Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. It is an honor few students will achieve. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are the best of friends, are candidates for the Academy. They will become entangled in a dangerous mystery that may help them solve the riddle of the Givers...if it doesn’t destroy the Earth first!

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two BFF tween girls apply for an elite gig as tenders for four giant towers known as Ladders, which rise up to a space station powering all Earth. The Ladders and Laddertop, we learn, were supplied by the Givers, mysterious aliens still opaque to the humans administering Laddertop. Only children are small and light enough to perform vital system maintenance. While the adventure and the interkid rivalries hook in the plot, a deeper metaphor lurks beneath: the mysteries of adulthood and its relationships. For if the alien signals have been indecipherable, so, too, is the behavior of the adult humans who lead the "web rats" into their new role. Should Robbi, Azure, and Xichab trust their instincts or follow instructions? And whose instructions? What's more, the aliens appear to be communicating directly with Robbi, and what does that mean? VERDICT A first-class plot could be developing here, although it's too early to foresee how it will play out. While not so stylish or dramatic as Japanese manga art, the black-and-white drawings are well designed and attractive. Teens and tweens will find this story intriguing.—M.C.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—A series of alien platforms lands on Earth, extending from the surface out to space, symbolic and actual ladders for humanity to climb out into the wider cosmos. Students Robbi and Azure are selected to be two of many recruits to attempt to understand and perhaps pilot these extraterrestrial enigmas. Comics in general and manga in particular both come in for much criticism for extending and slowing dramatic sequences with an eye toward gradual serialization. Not so here, with at least 20 characters and three prominent mysteries introduced in this initial volume. Still, it's very much an introductory chapter of a longer story, and the pace at which the stakes deepen and the power dynamics shift is either the result of dropped story threads or massive ambition. Orson Scott Card's world-creation bona fides don't need much introduction, and the central mysteries revolve around clues that Robbi encounters about the extraterrestrials' presence on and intentions for Earth. The central drama comes mostly from the protagonists' reactions to the arcane bureaucracy around them, Robbi taking a considered and hesitant perspective, with Azure relying on a constant and sheer force of will. The manga-style artwork has some mild fluctuations in terms of consistent quality, but is undeniably professional. Ibardolaza is strong at mystery and alienness, but uneven at genuine feeling and the vast spectacle and scale for which the Cards seem to be asking. A solid start that will find an eager audience.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
Kirkus Reviews

A high-octane outer-space adventure slated to be the first in a twosome.

Preteens Robbi and Azure are best friends, though the girls couldn't be more opposite: Robbi is a sensitive dreamer, while Azure is a driven go-getter with a short temper. Azure's biggest dream is to be picked for Laddertop. This is a program of the Givers, aliens who claim to help conserve Earth's resources by building power-providing space stations 36,000 feet above the Earth; these are reached by giant ladders. Children are chosen to attend Laddertop since their small stature makes it possible for them to perform maintenance in the cramped spaces. Azure is delighted to learn she's picked for the mission, but Robbi is more reluctant. She reveals that her stepfather is abusive, and she worries about the safety of her younger siblings in her absence. Once in the Laddertop training program, strange things begin to happen to Robbi: She's bitten by a strange creature that imprints her with a tattoo that periodically bleeds, and she is plagued by strange dreams. The main characters in this volume are largely female, strong and intelligent, a wonderful departure from male-dominated extraterrestrial offerings. Ibardolaza's muscular art blends manga and Western aesthetics.

An intriguing beginning; readers will clamor for the follow-up. (Graphic science fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765324603
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,148,940
  • Product dimensions: 7.42 (w) x 4.98 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.


Any discussion of Orson Scott Card's work must necessarily begin with religion. A devout Mormon, Card believes in imparting moral lessons through his fiction, a stance that sometimes creates controversy on both sides of the fence. Some Mormons have objected to the violence in his books as being antithetical to the Mormon message, while his conservative political activism has gotten him into hot water with liberal readers.

Whether you agree with his personal views or not, Card's fiction can be enjoyed on many different levels. And with the amount of work he's produced, there is something to fit the tastes of readers of all ages and stripes. Averaging two novels a year since 1979, Card has also managed to find the time to write hundreds of audio plays and short stories, several stage plays, a television series concept, and a screenplay of his classic novel Ender's Game. In addition to his science fiction and fantasy novels, he has also written contemporary fiction, religious, and nonfiction works.

Card's novel that has arguably had the biggest impact is 1985's Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ender's Game. Ender's Game introduced readers to Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a young genius faced with the task of saving the Earth. Ender's Game is that rare work of fiction that strikes a chord with adults and young adult readers alike. The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, also won the Hugo and Nebula awards, making Card the only author in history to win both prestigious science-fiction awards two years in a row.

In 2000, Card returned to Ender's world with a "parallel" novel called Ender's Shadow. Ender's Shadow retells the events of Ender's Game from the perspective of Julian "Bean" Delphinki, Ender's second-in-command. As Sam to Ender's Frodo, Bean is doomed to be remembered as an also-ran next to the legendary protagonist of the earlier novel. In many ways, Bean is a more complex and intriguing character than the preternaturally brilliant Ender, and his alternate take on the events of Ender's Game provide an intriguing counterpoint to fans of the original series.

In addition to moral issues, a strong sense of family pervades Card's work. Card is a devoted family man and father to five (!) children. In the age of dysfunctional family literature, Card bristles at the suggestion that a positive home life is uninteresting. "How do you keep ‘good parents' from being boring?" he once said. "Well, in truth, the real problem is, how do you keep bad parents from being boring? I've seen the same bad parents in so many books and movies that I'm tired of them."

Critical appreciation for Card's work often points to the intriguing plotlines and deft characterizations that are on display in Card's most accomplished novels. Card developed the ability to write believable characters and page-turning plots as a college theater student. To this day, when he writes, Card always thinks of the audience first. "It's the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience," he says. "I'm constantly shaping the story so the audience will know why they should care about what's going on."

Card brought Bean back in 2005 for the fourth and final novel in the Shadow series: Shadow of the Giant. The novel presented some difficulty for the writer. Characters who were relatively unimportant when the series began had moved to the forefront, and as a result, Card knew that the ending he had originally envisioned would not be enough to satisfy the series' fans.

Although the Ender and Shadow series deal with politics, Card likes to keep his personal political opinions out of his fiction. He tries to present the governments of futuristic Earth as realistically as possible without drawing direct analogies to our current political climate. This distance that Card maintains between the real world and his fictional worlds helps give his novels a lasting and universal appeal.

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    1. Hometown:
      Greensboro, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richland, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great first act middle school graphic science fiction comic book

    At the Deerfield Middle school tweeners reticent Robbi Holton and aggressive Azure Miles are BFFs. Whereas Robbi expects to remain at Deerfield, Azure wants to attend Laddertop Academy where children are trained at maintenance of the humongous ladders that rise 36000 miles from the surface and the four power space stations where the steps end. A quarter of a century ago, the alien Givers arrived at earth and before abrutly vanishing left behind special energy technology with the ladders and stations.

    Azure is euphoric to hear her name called to attend Laddertop; Robbi on the other hands has doubts longer than the ladders because she leaves behind her siblings under the abusive watch of their stepfather. At the academy, a strange beast bites Robbie leaving her with an odd mark that bleeds on and off for no apparent reason. She also struggles with eerier dreams that shake her well being. The pair soon begins to look into the enigma of the Givers; unaware that their investigation could destroy mankind.

    This is a great first act middle school graphic science fiction comic book. The lead protagonists are intrepid but display their courageous in totally opposite ways. They make the entertaining Card dad and daughter collaboration fun to read while Honoel A. Ibardolaza's illustrations enhance the space adventures of two preadolescent feisty females.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    Fast-Paced, Fun Read

    I am no comic book/manga/gamer/sci-fi expert. At all. My comic book experience only goes back to the Archie comics and Garfield comic books. So I don't know if I am especially qualified to review this book on a technical level. I don't know the lingo or definitions of what makes a book a comic or a graphic novel, or a manga. But I do know what I like and I'll base this mini-review on that.

    When I started reading, I thought I would be lost. I felt the synopsis gave me enough of a base to go on and it did. I was able to immediately jump into the story. The illustrations were beautiful and did a fabulous job of telling the story, the characters were fun, and the story was interesting.

    The actual reading time spent on Laddertop was one to two hours, tops. That speedy reading time made it a nice little palate cleanser, which isn't to say there was anything wrong with the book, only that it served as a change of pace for me.

    Like I said, I'm not an expert on this genre, but if you enjoy a lively fast-paced story, Laddertop would surely fit that bill.

    *I received a copy of Laddertop from Tor Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.*

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  • Posted November 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Start to a New SciFi Manga Series

    I haven¿t read much manga, but really wanted to read this one because the story sounded new and different and Orson Scott Card¿s name was attached to it. Laddertop has the feel of Naruto in space, which is pretty awesome to me. The story remained interesting and unpredictable the entire way through and I can easily see this being made into an animated series as well. The characters are all so varied and their personalities so distinct, I never once confused any of them. As this was only volume 1 of the series, the ending left me with much to wonder about and I am anticipating finding out more about the alien Givers and what they are really about. This is a really great start to a new manga series! Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011


    I was so utterly disappointed... this is a childs comic book, not something like Card is so very well known for. Thankfully my local B&N store took it back for credit!

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