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The Pequeninos (Portuguese for "little ones"), or piggies, are a fictional alien species in the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card. They are first introduced in the book Speaker for the Dead. The Pequeninos are written as forest-dwelling and technologically primitive, but incredibly intelligent, able to learn languages extremely quickly. They were given the nickname "piggy" by the colonists of the fictional planet Lusitania due to their apparent pig-like appearance. Pequenino is the etymon of the English word pickaninny through pidgin languages.


It was learned at the end of Speaker for the Dead that the pequeninos exhibit an extreme case of sexual dimorphism, a form of paedogenesis, and the unique plant/animal symbiosis that characterizes all life on their native planet of Lusitania. Taking this symbiosis to the extreme, pequeninos actually metamorphize from animal to plant. This interesting combination evolved in response to the virus known as the descolada.

It is important to note that the pequeninos have their own language and that the terms used below to describe their social and reproductive structures are thus bastardizations of human terms. Because the human terms (i.e. wife, brother, etc.) pertain specifically to the human reproductive structure, applying them to a different structure, such as that of the fictional pequeninos, strains them a bit.


Fertile females of the species are impregnated while still in non-sentient (worm-like) infancy, by the fathertrees that are described in detail below. Referred to by pequeninos as little mothers, these female infants lack a developed birth canal and consequently do not survive labor. Embryotic pequeninos gain the strength to survive by eating their way out of their mothers' bodies.

This process takes place within the "birthing place", or mothertree of the pequenino tribe. Following birth, pequeninos of both sexes lead what is called the "first life" or "life of darkness". This stage is spent entirely within the mothertree. Most female infants do not pass this stage of development, instead dying as they deliver the next generation. However, a small number of females, who are sterile or selected for the role, progress past this stage to become wives, the matriarchs of the tribe.

When a new mothertree is needed (as when a tribe moves to a new forest), one of the wives enters into a process of metamorphosis similar to the one used in creating a fathertree. This process is described in detail below.


Male children eventually grow to their "second life" or "half-lit life" and leave the mothertree, finally entering the outside world. In this life, males are called brothers and compete for social status by hunting and foraging and waging war against other tribes. They also perform the honorific task of carrying little mothers to and from fathertrees for reproduction. It is in this stage that pequeninos most resemble humans in appearance and speech.

It is only in the "third life" or "life in the full light" that male pequeninos gain reproductive faculties. Hence, entering this stage is a privilege awarded only to males with the highest social standing. This is a decision usually made by the wives. Male pequeninos given this honor are ritualistically dissected by a fellow brother and, through a delicate process of organ positioning, transfer their consciousness(es) into the trees that grow from seeds planted into their "second life"-corpses.

Fathertrees are indistinguishable from trees in appearance, but have limited movement capabilities. This mobility is used to communicate with the pequenino tribe via "father-tongue", a language consisting of the rhythmic beating of the Fathertree's trunk with sticks. The Fathertree then adjusts the shape and size of its internal cavities to alter the rhythm. Fathertrees can also communicate with each other via their philotic connections. The term "life in the full light" refers to the Fathertree's direct access to this philotic plane of existence. Fathertrees impregnate the little mothers brought to them with the sap on their bark.

If a pequenino male dies without the proper rituals, he becomes a brothertree, which fails to retain full consciousness. It is from these trees that the pequeninos get wood for their tools and houses. By using father-tongue, the pequeninos are able to tell the brothertrees what tools they need and these shapes are fashioned for them.


The pequeninos were discovered on the planet Lusitania in the year 1886 after the formation of the human ruling body Starways Congress (around 3066 years after Ender's Xenocide, i.e around AD 5250) by a group of human colonists, Roman Catholic in religion, Portuguese in language, and Brazilian in culture.

This was only the second contact between humans and intelligent alien life, the Formics being the first, and Starways Congress decided to impose strict limitations on any kind of contact between pequeninos and humans — if any mistake were to occur it would be on the side of too little association, not too much.

Since preventing the piggies from knowing of the humans' existence itself was already impossible, other limits were imposed: the small colony itself, Milagre, Portuguese for "Miracle", was entirely surrounded by a high pain-stimulating fence intended to prevent both humans and pequeninos from crossing it. The only ones allowed to pass the fence were the scientist studying the pequeninos and his or her assistant, and they were never allowed to ask questions of the pequeninos, to answer pequenino questions about humans or to bring with them any equipment whatsoever, other than the clothes they wore.

However, all these measures ended up eventually proving a complete failure — partly because the pequeninos were able to chew a certain native pain-suppressing drug in order to cross the fence in secret and observe humans from up close and partly because the human xenologers' own feelings of compassion were making them unable to coldly observe the pequeninos even in times of suffering, without moving to help them. Reluctantly at first and systematically later on, Libo and his assistants taught the pequeninos the use of arrows and other undiscovered tools, the basics of herding and agriculture, and they even modified certain human plants to make them better fit for pequenino consumption. No barrier on cultural contamination lasted either -- Miro and Ouanda ended up offering the pequeninos printouts of The Hive Queen and The Hegemon as well as a copy of the Gospel of John.

Two dark stains in the history of human-pequenino relationship were the brutal killings of the first two xenologers, Pipo Figueira and 17 years later his son Libo Figueira, at the hands of the pequeninos. In both cases each of them had been asked to bring a pequenino, Mandachuva and Leaf-eater respectively, to the "third life" in order to celebrate a recent accomplishment. Not understanding the pequenino transformations, in both times the human xenologers refused, preferring to sacrifice their own lives in the process — the piggies, likewise not understanding that the humans lacked the ability to pass on to a "third life", killed the xenologers thinking they were honouring them. For more details see the section on notable pequeninos.

The history of the pequeninos came to a radical turn with the coming of Ender Wiggin at the planet, who at the time was also seeking a planet suitable to relocate the one surviving Formic Hive Queen. The artificial intelligence Jane travelling with him, wishing to bring matters to a head, revealed to Starways Congress all the violations that the xenologers had committed in order to help the pequeninos: as a result the colony was faced with the prospect of forced removal. In response the human colony was forced to fully rebel against Starways Congress, taking down the fence and signing a treaty with the pequeninos.

That treaty ensured that technological and scientific know-how would no longer be kept secret from the pequeninos who eagerly wished to learn how to reach the stars: all barriers to communication would be broken down. At the same time all pequenino tribes entering that agreement would no longer be allowed to engage into aggressive war against other tribes. Pequenino law would apply within the forest, while human law within the colony and land given to them -- and the bugger queen would likewise be allowed a place on the planet. Lusitania now transformed into the home of three species, the third species would act as arbiter in all disputes between the other two.

This treaty was signed in ink and then sealed by blood as Ender Wiggin helped the pequenino called "Human" to his third life — by the rules of the treaty, the first and last time a human being would so help a pequenino. After this was accomplished, Ender Wiggin wrote the "Life of Human" as the third piece to accompany "The Hive Queen" and "The Hegemon" as the story of the three known intelligent species of the galaxy.

Notable pequeninosEdit

  • Rooter: Rooter was the most inquisitive of the Piggies and had a strong relationship with Libo before he was abruptly brought into his third life (as a father-tree), where thanks to human-piggie acculturation, he fathered a large number of piggies.
  • Mandachuva: The first crisis in human-pequenino relationship occurred with the death of the first xenologer, Pipo Figueira, at the hands of the pequeninos. When the first Xenologer of the colony, Pipo Figueira, just discovered that the Descolada virus, which had almost decimated the human population of Lusitania, was a part of the pequeninos' normal physiology -- he went to share that information with the pequeninos. The pequenino "Mandachuva" brought that news back to the "wives", alongside with the implication of this, namely that the humans were not all powerful and godlike, and that in some respects pequeninos were even more powerful than humans. It was a revelation to be rewarded — but when Pipo was asked to bring Mandachuva to the "third life", Pipo, not understanding the nature of pequenino transformation thought he was being asked to kill Mandachuva, and he refused, preferring to lose his own life in the process. On their side Mandachuva, and the pequeninos in general, thought that they were rewarding Pipo, bringing him on to his third life, not understanding that no such thing existed for humans. Mandachuva was finally allowed to pass on to the third life after the tragic misunderstandings were cleared with the coming of Ender Wiggin.
  • Leaf-eater: Seventeen years later the new xenologer, and Pipo's son, Libo Figueira, suffered a similar fate. The piggy "Leaf-eater" had convinced the wives to let a very great number of little mothers conceive, and he then convinced Libo to help them out with the famine that they were sure to face. It was an enormous risk because if Libo refused to help that whole generation of pequeninos would perish — but it paid off because the humans did indeed help. After the first amaranth harvest, Libo was, like Pipo before him, asked to bring Leaf-eater to the third life — and again he refused thinking that he was saving Leaf-eater's life. Leaf-eater killed Libo, thinking on his part that he was helping Libo achieve his third life. Like Mandachuva, Leaf-eater was also finally allowed to pass on to the third life after the tragic misunderstandings were cleared with the coming of Ender Wiggin.
  • Human: One of the sons of Rooter. When Ender Wiggin, the Speaker for the Dead, came to the piggies for one of the first times, Human had a chance to be brought into the third life, and to become a fathertree. But only Ender could do it. Like Pipo and Libo, he did not wish to do it because he would have been killing a friend; however, unlike Pipo and Libo, he did it. He brought Human into the third life. Spawning many children, just like his fathertree, Rooter, Human became one of the most important piggies out of all, maybe as important as Rooter. After this, Ender wrote a book called "Life Of Human," which was a biography about Human.
  • Warmaker is a pequenino that died and entered the "third life" as a tree. He convinced a tribe of Pequeninos that the Descolada virus was a form of the Holy Ghost of Christ and that it should be spread to all humans on the Hundred Worlds. This caused them to begin a massacre of the pequeninos by the humans of Lusitania by killing Father Estevão, Ender's stepson.
  • Planter is a pequenino that features prominently in Xenocide. When it is revealed to him that the descolada is manipulating pequenino behavior, he becomes almost suicidal, insisting that he be deprived of the descolada to his death, to prove that the pequenino's sentience was not caused by the descolada. Although he never enters the third life as a fathertree, he is awarded the honor of retaining his name after being planted, something which no other brothertree received.
  • Glass, similar to Planter, was the subject of a descolada deprivation test. However, Glass's experiment was the testing of Ela's new recoloda virus. He successfully made the transition into the third life as fathertree.


  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
  • Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card

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