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A Hugo award-winning Novel!"Vinge is one of the best visionary writers of SF today." —David BrinThirty-Thousand years before A Fire Upon the Deep, humans . Zones of Thought: A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky EPUB with a UK issued credit card and all our eBooks (ePub and PDF) are DRM protected. by Vernor Vinge. Read online, or download in DRM-free EPUB format. (A Fire Upon the Deep, The Children of the Sky, A Deepness in the Sky). by Vernor .
He does a good reading, with just enough inflections and accents to help recognize who is speaking. Nov 20, Connie rated it really liked it Shelves: First--This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time, and, despite the fact that it doesn't quite earn a 5 star rating from me more on that later , I would highly recommend the book to anyone who's remotely interested in science fiction.
It's a testament to the book that I managed to finish it while in the midst of an extraordinarily busy semester. Vinge really hits the balance of "science" and "fiction" almost perfectly--and, even though the book weighs in at a hefty 4. In fact, my most serious criticism of the book is that it should have been a bit longer. Vinge never falls into the all-too-common trap of becoming lost in his own world of gobly-gook highly theoretical science While I recognize that many genre fans live for that stuff, I get very tired of science fiction books that essentially become a platform for the author to share his really, it's usually his ideas on futuristic technology.
Still, the book is not fluffy, and he introduces his science subtly, building an entire system for the readers, without ever causing the book to lose its heart. In the end, this book is essentially a study on human nature, just set in a fantastic setting. The characters are really quite fantastic, and, though they are a lot of them, Vinge makes them all stand out; it's nearly impossible to confuse even the minor characters--even after you haven't heard from them in pages.
The premise is definitely fantastic, and I'm not sure I've ever read a book with such a wonderful set-up. Two space faring races of humans discover a unique physical anomaly: What's more--the star's lone planet has technologically lagging but highly intelligent sentient race, one like nothing either race of humans has ever encountered.
The two groups of humans are antithetical to one another, each group despises the very principles that the other stands for. Both groups race toward the planet, to make the first contact with this alien species.
The first group to get there will likely gain extreme knowledge, wealth, fame, and the chance to discover the mysteries of this never-before-seen star. The fate of the second group to arrive is unclear, but won't be pretty.
The groups arrive at about the same time--and then things begin to get interesting. To their horror, the civilization on the planet is much more primitive than they had expected, and there are no resources, no way to refuel their ships, and no chance of returning home.
Unlike so many science fiction books, Vinge presents space travel as something difficult, expensive, and always teetering on the precipice of disaster. There is no warp drive, and humans spend hundreds of years in "coldsleep," waiting for their ships to reach their destination; hoping that their pod won't fail, and hoping that when they wake up there will still be a ship to wake up to.
In this setting, then, with two warring groups orbiting around a planet hundreds of years from any advanced civilization and running short on resources, somehow these groups will have to become allies. To say anything more would venture into spoiler territory, but I will leave it at: Vinge hits this atmosphere perfectly.
As the reader you know something bad is happening, but damn it, you can't figure out what. For the entirety of the book, the viewpoint switches among the two human races in orbit, and the Spider race down below on the planet. The book sets itself up for a fantastic climax seriously--plan to read the last pages or so in one sitting; you have been warned , and, while the climax isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, it seemed a bit rushed. The last two hundred pages could have easily stretched to be double that, and I think that I would have felt more satisfied with the conclusion had it had a little more detail to it.
There is a huge twist that happens in this stretch of the book, and by huge I mean huge. It's a good twist, it really is, but I couldn't help feeling robbed; without reading the book again there's no way to be sure, but I don't think I could have pieced any of it together until it happened.
What's more--I'm not convinced the surprise value was quite worth it. Yes--it was a good surprise, but I want to know how it happened, the history of it--not just be presented with its occurrence at the end. I can't help but wonder if the book would have been better without it, or with adding yet another viewpoint in addition to the two groups of humans and the Spiders throughout the book.
There are essentially two reasons why the book doesn't quite earn 5 stars from me. The first is the twist at the end, the second is the pacing. This book is long--and I don't exactly want to advocate adding another pages to it, and yet the ending just seemed overly rushed. Looking back on the book I question the relevance of a lot of the information Vinge gives the reader.
It's all fascinating--there wasn't a singe character of the 20 or so viewpoints the reader is presented with that I din't want to read about or cringed whenever the viewpoint shifted to him or her.
But in retrospect, a lot of the personal histories, while interesting at the time, seemed to have no relevance later on. One character in particular Pham --while one of the most interesting characters, Vinge probably spent a good 60 or 70 pages over the course of the book fleshing out his backstory.
After finishing the book, I don't think this backstory had any relevance, at least none beyond what could have been shared in 10 or 20 pages.
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Similarly, there are a lot of "interesting" parts of the book that just don't have much payoff. I can't help but feel that the book would have been better if it couldn't have trimmed off or pages of this information throughout the book, and in its place spend more time at the end.
Still though, all in all--this book does catapult Vinge to be one of my favorite authors, and I can't wait to read the "sequel" written before this one --"A Fire Upon the Deep.
The book never once drags in its pages, and I was left at the end wanting more. So please, if you're interested in the genre, pick up this book; it's definitely worth it! View all 6 comments. Jan 02, kat rated it it was ok Shelves: I honestly have no idea how to even rate this. Objectively, it's a very solid book. Vinge's prose is kind of dry and his habit of throwing a bunch of hints at you before really telling you what's going on is alternately effective and obnoxious.
I found the first few hundred pages terribly hard to read, though. It's not a pleasant story, and Vinge doesn't pull any punches. If you're like me and triggered by deception, manipulation, and oh, rape with bonus memory-erasure Vinge also I honestly have no idea how to even rate this.
Vinge also likes to do this thing where, not only is there dramatic irony because you know something the main characters don't, but he takes you inside the head of the villain. Dramatic irony is hard enough for me, but something about seeing the innermost thoughts of the bad guy makes me feel complicit.
If you can make it through those bits, it gets a little better as the story progresses. And I didn't really believe that, after all they had been through and suffered, Tomas Nau died and everyone was just magically OK again.
It seemed to me that more of them should have been like Trixia and Anne, especially Qiwi. For all that the story and world were complex and interesting, Vinge seems to have been unable -- or unwilling -- to contend with actual emotional complexity. They're mind-controlled, subjugated mentally and sexually.
Meanwhile, the men are merely physically enslaved. They get to stay themselves and plot the overthrow of the Emergents, they get to be brave and clever and bide their time and ultimately save the world. The women are reduced to pawns, used to keep the men in line even among the Emergents, e. Even or especially poor Qiwi, who ultimately only got hers at the end by a combination of luck and Ezr Vinh's urging.
She had such potential, but ultimately we never get any real insight into her character, and in the end it seems as soon as she finds the right guy to take care of her, all her problems are solved. It rang so false for me that she wouldn't be more deeply affected by losing years of her life as Nau's plaything. That, more than anything else, is what made me think "this could only have been written by a man".
Demerits for sexism and not really understanding how emotions work. Points for pretty epic scale. Demerits for the view spoiler ["and then everything worked out and it was all fine" hide spoiler ] ending.
That comes out to, oh I dunno, let's say two stars. View all 9 comments. Aug 26, mark monday rated it really liked it Shelves: I was imagining a movie version while I was reading this one. I don't think I'd want that in my movie. View all 3 comments. I don't know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of time meditating upon the far future of humanity. I don't just worry about the future of my generation, or the future of the generation after mine, or the future of a couple of generations down the line.
I'm talking one-, ten-, fifty-thousand years into the future. Will humanity still exist—would we recognize it as humanity even if it does? How many times between now and then will civilizations rise and fall? Because if there's one const I don't know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of time meditating upon the far future of humanity.
Because if there's one constant across the depths of space and time, it's that nothing lasts forever. Empires and republics alike crumble under the weight of corruption, stagnation, or the simple stress inherent in managing a civilization separated by light-years.
If we don't find fancy physics or technology to cast off the shackles of the light-speed barrier, we're looking at a very distorted, relativistic existence indeed. It's this sort of realistic, hard science fiction that promises us no easy answers and makes me wonder if humans are really meant to live in space.
I liked A Fire Upon the Deep. Taken together with this prequel, its title always reminds me of "Smoke on the Water" "Fire in the sky! As much as I liked A Fire Upon the Deep , its hard-science-fiction tropes never quite cohere, and the story and characterization suffer as a result.
In contrast, A Deepness in the Sky unifies some of the same tropes—as well as new ones—to create a compelling story and pathos for the plights of the characters. The ideological struggle between the remnants of the Qeng Ho and Emergent fleets is a ripe ground for observations on human society and attitudes toward power.
Tomas Nau is in many ways a moustache-twirling villain, complete with the sadistic right-hand minion Ritser Brughel and the indispensable trusted lieutenant Anne Reynolt. He likes to be in control, to use people, like Qiwi Lisolet, and has no compunctions about lying or coercing when necessary. However, he has more depth than your ordinary Snidely Whiplash. He doesn't think of himself as being evil, just as doing what's necessary to survive. He is a product of Emergent society and its values, was raised from birth to be a ruthless and cunning Podmaster.
Vinge manages to make Tomas a believable antagonist, one whose defeat comes not from his own incompetence but from a combination of betrayal and skillful planning on the part of the protagonists. Just as Tomas is a multi-dimensional character, Pham isn't a paragon of goodliness. Since Pham is in the fleet under an assumed name, Vinge milks the irony cow for all it's worth by having Tomas confess his admiration for the historical exploits of Pham Nuwen.
Indeed, as we learn from flashbacks and Pham's heavy ruminations, he has done things of which he is not proud. And for Pham, the Emergent slavery known as Focus is a nigh-irresistible lure, a promise that could fulfil Pham's dreams of a true Qeng Ho empire.
So Pham has his flaws, and he's lucky that he has an idealist like Ezr Vinh to keep him on the straight and narrow. Pham knows when to give up his dreams and embrace something new.
In between these two major characters are all sorts of minor allies and enemies and people of uncertain loyalty. These are the fuel for a truly tense, suspenseful conflict. The Qeng Ho, stuck under the thumb of Nau's Emergent control, do what they do best: Thanks to an Emergent sneak attack early in the novel, both fleets have been crippled, and they need to work together to survive until the Spiders achieve the technological level necessary to repair their ships.
Humans are complex entities, however; even though working together is a rational response to the crisis, it's not going to be easy.
Ezr, in particular, is incensed by the idea of Focus and chafes under the Emergent yoke. Focus is a tamed virus that increases the neurological connections in its victims' brains, causing them to become very competent in one area, like linguistics, at the expense of most of their social and interpersonal skills. It's a form of literal intellectual slavery, a substitute for the lack of high-performance computing that's the legacy of living in the "Slow Zone" of the galaxy, where no artificial intelligence is possible.
Focus allows people to achieve remarkable breakthroughs, whether it's in translation or biomechanics; however, as the name suggests, it results in a narrow-minded expert obsessed with a single field of study.
A deepness in the sky
This breaks the heart of Qiwi and Ezr, who have Focused loved ones, even as it fires up Pham's mind with the possibilities of what one could achieve, if one is willing to pay the price. Focus is just one of the medley of technological and social nova that Vinge introduces. Often he is explicit in the consequences for society: Nevertheless, like other good science fiction authors, he still develops the society in an organic, natural manner. We see the Qeng Ho and Emergents interact with their technology and draw our own conclusions about how it shapes their lives and mores.
Even something like Focus can be controversial and subjective: I've been calling it slavery, but like Pham or Tomas, maybe another person might not see it that way. There are always compromises when new technology pervades society, and that's one of the reasons science fiction is so useful and compelling.
Vinge parallels this problem in the development of Spider society. Their world is the sole planet in orbit of OnOff, a brown dwarf that enjoys 35 years of life-giving brightness before dimming for years hence its name. So they have year generations, each followed by the Dark, through which they hibernate in deepnesses. As the Emergents and Qeng Ho arrive, that is about to change.
A brilliant scientist, Sherkaner Underhill, spurs a scientific renaissance that culminates in the Spiders staying awake through the Dark. We get a front-row seat to the ensuing turmoil in the fractured Spider society. The natural cycle of Brightness and Dark has had a profound effect on everything the Spiders do.
Children are conceived at the end of the cycle the Waning Years and grow to adulthood during the next Brightness. Defying this custom results in oophase or "out-of-phase" children, who are ostracized and subject to pejorative stereotypes.
But now that the Spiders can live during the Dark, that, like a myriad other things, will have to change.
This results in a lengthy and tense conflict between the more liberal Accord kingdom and the traditionalist Kindred, and this conflict culminates with mushroom clouds. The Spider characters—mostly Underhill's brood, although Hrunkner Unnerby is a lovable old curmudgeon as well—are quite entertaining.
The chapters presented from the Spider point of view make them seem so human, despite the references to "eating hands" and "baby welts" and "paternal fur. One of them dies during a harrowing kidnapping, and it changes their dynamic forever. Suddenly, they can't afford to be precocious innocents anymore. They are soldiers, even if they aren't enlisted in the army yet, and they have to be prepared.
Underhill's family is at the centre of the same kind of social and political turmoil we've seen so often in human society, particularly in this past century. Technological advances allow us to do more, whether it's in vitro fertilization or putting weapons in space. There are always reactionary groups who want to stuff the technology back into its box, suppress it, get rid of it somehow. But you can't. Underhill summarizes this sentiment rather nicely when he talks about wanting to make invention the mother of necessity rather than the other way around: And sometimes that hurts.
There's a lot of hurt here. Some of the characters, like Ezr or Qiwi, are probably safely labelled as "good guys," but no one is squeaky clean. A Deepness in the Sky is an utterly fascinating, sometimes chilling, always poignant book. It has characters you can care about, conflicts that end in messy and flawed resolutions, and a sense of futility regarding the longevity of human societies tempered by the reassurance that, regardless of era, humans are as wonderful and surprising as they are selfish and destructive.
I don't know if we'll be Qeng Ho, or Emergents, or something completely different. In all probability, if we last that long, we'll have experienced a little of everything. No matter how much I try, I can't quite comprehend the time scales involved or the numbers of people who will live and die between my lifetime and Pham Nuwen's.
And that's ultimately what great books do: View 1 comment. Feb 28, Megan Baxter rated it really liked it. I had, it must be admitted, a hard time getting into this one. I'd pick it up and read a bit, but not make much real headway. Partly it's because other books that people had on hold at the library came in, or I needed to blast something through to be ready for my book club. These external factors, however, weren't all of it.
Once I finally did get into the book, I really enjoyed it. The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can re I had, it must be admitted, a hard time getting into this one. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook Have you ever read someone else's review of a book and thought, "Yes! That is exactly how I felt!
To the extent that I'm not sure what else to add. Go read his review first, and then come back to hear me witter on if you're still interested So what can I add to that? My first experience with Vinge was Rainbow's End , which I did not get along with. I thought it was rubbish. I picked up A Fire Upon the Deep as a Hugo winner, with a kind of grim determination to trudge through it, come what may.
Instead, I loved every second of it and have since enthusiastically recommended it to friends. So coming into A Deepness in the Sky I had a kind of hopeful trepidation - would it be another smash hit, or another dreadful miss?
It's a definite hit. It's a really good, interesting book - Vinge does a fabulous job again with his alien characters and creates a culture that will live long in the memory. As Apatt aluded to though, there's something about the book that doesn't ring 'right' to start with.
By the end, that all makes sense, but it makes the reader suspicious, you're trying to put your finger on what's out of kilter - it makes the book a bit of a puzzle - and in that mindset you're not engaging with the characters, you're not investing emotionally.
It takes longer than it should for the ties to grow strong enough to tug on your heart-strings, and somewhere in that delay the fifth star is lost from the rating. The third in the trilogy, The Children of the Sky scores significantly lower here on Goodreads than either of the first two an average of 3. Jul 28, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: Vernor Vinge has hit a home run twice in a row. A Deepness in the Sky had all the fantastic alienness mixed with human drama and far future sci-fi awesomeness that made A Fire Upon the Deep one of my favorite SF novels ever.
I've become a lot pickier about my sci-fi, but A Deepness in the Sky has held up even better than the first book in the twelve years since it was written. At its heart is a conflict between two starfaring cultures: The Qeng Ho and the Emergents arrive simultaneously at a strange star that flares into brilliance for a few decades and then goes dormant for centuries in a perfectly regular cycle.
On the single planet orbiting the OnOff star is a race of spider-like aliens who have evolved to live on this planet that is only inhabitable for a few decades out of every couple of centuries. When the Qeng Ho and the Emergents arrive, the Spiders are dormant, frozen in their deepnesses, but when the star flares to life, they are poised to enter a modern technological age in the next generation. This three-way contest, with Qeng Ho and Emergents fighting a bitter war with each other full of treachery and dashed hopes, while the fate of the Spiders hangs in the balance, makes for a compelling story all the way through to the end.
Vinge didn't drop the ball once, and he even made the Spiders relatable and interesting characters, so that the shift between human and Spider POV never annoyed me the way some books do when a more interesting character's story is left hanging to shift to a less interesting one.
There is a whole raft of characters and you root or hiss for all of them. The book was epic and fully self-contained and one of the "harder" space operas out there, meaning it's mostly believable. Vinge does not rely much on hand-wavium to make his technology and plots work. Just plain awesome. I give my highest recommendation for both this book and A Fire Upon the Deep.
Apr 21, Lisa Harmonybites rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans. I loved this and was up all night finishing it. That's rather rare with science fiction, at least hard science fiction. Few science fiction writers--hell, few writers--have Vinge's sense of pacing and ability to create suspense.
That's because you care about his characters intensely, human as well as alien. Not something you find enough in Hard Science Fiction--and Vinge brings off some mind-blowing concepts without ever falling into infodump or other awkward constructions.
I thought I had read I loved this and was up all night finishing it.
I thought I had read this novel before--I know it had been sitting on my shelves for years, even somehow had a rating, but I couldn't remember anything about it--for good reason--I'm sure I hadn't read this before--I would have remembered. This is a prequel to the first book of the Zones of Thought trilogy, but not only can this stand alone, I think it might be best to read it first. It involves the most memorable and vibrant of the human characters, Pham Nuwen and his time among the trading fleet, the Qeng Ho.
It's notable though that in A Fire Upon the Deep , what got mentioned in my review and made the greatest impression were the alien characters, the dog-like Tines. This book also features aliens--a Spider-like race. Like the Tines they are memorable and striking both as a species and in their individuals. I found the Tines a bit more endearing--but not by much.
But in this book I found the human characters as strong or stronger than the aliens. Part of that is Pham Nuwen, who is central here. But the dystopia here--and Fire has one too--is a human one. The "Focus" is one of the most chilling forms of slavery I've seen in fiction--one where with your mind enslaved, your body follows. So the story of the "Emergents" versus the Qeng Ho was every bit as interesting as what was happening on Arachna.
Vinge shifts between points of view and that in itself ups the tension--I was never impatient to get past a section, but at the same time I'd be left worried about what was "happening" to others while our attention was elsewhere.
The next and last of the trilogy was published only about two years ago and is a direct sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep and starts two years after the close of events there. I'm sorry to say goodbye to Pham Nuwen and the other characters of A Deepness in the Sky , but I'm already excited at the thought I'll soon be back with my old friends among the Tines.
At the time of the Waning Sun, Sherkaner Underhill, a postgraduate student at Kingschool in Princeton, having abandoned everything behind to take his first trip to Lands Command and sell them on his schemes in of hope becoming an engineering officer, has been revelling his driving with his newly-acquired automobile.
Meanwhile, Hrunkner Unnerby, collaborating with the most fanciful person alive and observing the craziest ideas materialize, will see his world from a different perspective; Tomas Nau, playing the deadly politics of the Emergents and gambling big to win, will do everything he can for his absolute success; Pham Trinli, rejoining the Qeng Ho after a long time and working hard to maintain his cover persona, will begin to set up his own schemes; Qiwi, living half her childhood between the stars and growing up learning about survival in space, will fall victim of the political games; and Little Victory, born along with her siblings out-of-phase and spending her years in hiding, will set off on adventure that will mark her life forever.
But also to the planet Arachna, where the Spiders — descendants of a nonhuman starfaring intelligence — have passed generation after generation building their civilisation under the transitions of the OnOff star, falling into hibernation in their deep sanctuaries known as the deepnesses during the Dark Time in order to survive the lower temperatures, and resurfacing two hundred years later with the New Sun to start all over again.
A second novel in which Vinge, coming with a much more compelling writing than before, showing a greater ease — and experience — in his plot- and character-development, and making his narration even more realistic and powerful, creates a long yet absorbing story of conflicting cultures, technological advancements, unexpected and brutal plot twists, and mind-stretching ideas.
In the end, A Deepness in the Sky is a hefty but spectacular novel, with Vernor Vinge — coming with a much more compelling writing — crafting masterfully another epic story, revealing through their adventures a long-lost past, and a Human Space with all the dreams and flaws one can expect from Humankind.
Mar 10, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a fantastic story. Books like this are why people read science fiction. Sure, it's got aliens and spaceships and technology that you have to use your imagination to understand, but at the core of it is a series of characters who are undergoing struggles that are truly timeless.
I love this stuff. I probably never will get tired of a well-written story where people are struggling against a ruthless tyrant. This is represented well here by Tomas Nau, the Emergent Podmaster, in control of hi This is a fantastic story. This is represented well here by Tomas Nau, the Emergent Podmaster, in control of his army of enslaved intellectuals, running his totalitarian closed state in this cut-off Lord of the Flies environment.
Pham, Ezr and all the rest: Ah, but the real stars here are the Spiders. They inhabit a planet that orbits a sun that is called the OnOff star, because it's off for years and then on for 35 years. What are the physics behind this?
Who really cares? The point is that it happens. This means the Spiders have a unique culture that is based around this, although as we meet them we find they are undergoing some rapid change thanks to the seemingly insane brilliance of one Sherkaner Underhill.
The merchants and the totalitarians are stranded alike, and they need the Spider civilization to develop enough to get spare parts to go home. I felt like the best parts of the book were the Spider parts.
Vinge does something really clever with how he writes the Spiders. Their alien-ness is introduced gradually. When you first meet Sherk he could almost be human.
He is described as having won a car at a casino thanks to some kind of shady card counting. The emotions all remain human even as it becomes increasingly apparent that the physiology is not. The book is long, but it's definitely worth it.
The plot moves at a slow, steady burn, so it never seems to drag, or at least it didn't to me. We spend some time in characters' heads. We get to know them, and like them, or hate them. This is important for the story because nobody ever quite understands everything that's going on, though they all try to do so. Heavy with dramatic irony, then, where the reader knows a bit more than the characters, sees collisions building but can't do much about it.
Maybe I missed the hints, though. The Spider writing struck me as even more clever once this happened though, with the revelation that there was a story reason for the Spiders starting out human and becoming gradually more alien: That was tremendously well done. One of the more impressive pieces of writing legerdemain that comes to mind. This was not a cheap manipulation. Fantastic stuff.
It's one of those times where the literary merit of science fiction kind of sneaks up on you. The far-future humans can find some common ground with the Spiders - at least once they are being led by someone who's not an authoritarian despot. It's "just" fiction, of course, but if the humans can get along with the Spiders, why can't we all get along on Earth?
Not to say that we always will, but we could, if getting along was something that was desired by the people in power. Heartily recommended to anyone who can get over the spaceships and the aliens to enjoy a good story. Jun 21, Andrew Leon rated it liked it. If you remember back to that book, I said I was only going to read this one if it was better, and it was better, better enough that I wanted to know what happened even though I had some major issues with the book going in.
And this one was slow, too, but not quite as slow as Fire. But let's just cut to it The first major issue with this book is that it's barely related to the first book in this "trilogy. Like, there's a character Well, it's like going to a party somewhere and meeting someone who is your very distant relative through marriage.
Or, maybe, two marriages. Like, you know, the divorced spouse of your fourth cousin twice removed. That's how related this book is to the first book. They're both set in the same party, um Which is probably part of why I liked it, because I thought the first book was, for lack of a better word, stupid.
Which is not to say that this book doesn't also have a strong dose of stupid, the main one being a star that turns itself on and off.
Yeah, like it has a switch, except that it's on a timer. So for a couple of centuries, it's a faintly glowing dwarf somethingorother, then it will flare to life and burn bright for 50 years or so then go back out. And, somehow, there's life on the planet that orbits the star, highly evolved life, that has adapted to this pattern, something we're not even going to touch, because the problem is the star. There is no explanation offered for this. It's just some mystery of the universe.
Or, maybe, it's an alien artifact. We don't care enough to try and find out, and the author doesn't offer any kind of rational explanation for it. Because, you know, physics, and physics doesn't allow for something like this, so the author didn't bother other than that it enabled the plot he wanted. Look, if you're going to make up some piece of stupid shit like this for your story, you need to at least offer some kind of explanation as to why it exists.
Well, unless you're Lewis Carroll and your whole book is full of the absurd. The next major issue I had was the aliens. There's a problem with aliens in sci-fi and that's that almost always the aliens turn out to be just humans in costumes. Metaphorically speaking. The aliens act like humans, think like humans, pretty much are humans except for the fact that they look some other way, though, frequently, they're also based on bipedal symmetry, just like humans.
I have a philosophical difference with this approach to aliens. If they're aliens make them act I don't know In some way! Make them different other than just cosmetically. Vinge completely fails to do this with his spider creatures. Look, I get it: Aliens are hard, but at least make the effort. Rather than make the effort, though, Vinge makes excuses and tries to pass it off as the humans in the book anthropomorphizing the spiders as they learn about them, and that does work for certain sections of the book BUT there are clearly sections where the humans have no relation to what's going on with the spiders, and the spiders still act just like humans.
He barely ever mentions the fact that they extra limbs. It's like they're just hanging around useless For all of that, though, the story was interesting enough to keep me involved, which says a lot about it considering the fact that I came into it with the idea that it needed to do something right away to get me to keep reading it. Mostly, that had to do with the characters, which were much better than the characters in the previous book. I especially liked Sherkaner Underhill; he's probably the reason I kept going at the beginning.
Actually, there are a lot of good and likable characters in this, just don't get too attached to most of them. Vinge is a bit like George RR Martin in that respect. They are all the characters who must die to prove the situation is serious. Or they all could be, and you never know which ones will make it through. The book is also incredibly topical from a political standpoint, and that part I found very interesting. The political conflicts among the spiders, with their truth-denying conservative faction undermining the more progressive scientific community is somewhat engrossing.
It wouldn't have surprised me if dogmatic religious spider had started saying, "Climate change is a hoax. But is the book, as a whole, worth reading? I don't know. I would just skip the first one for sure if you think you might be interested in this one.
Since this one serves as some kind of "prequel" for the other one in that it happens chronologically first, it might even be better to read this one first. But, really, unless you're just into hard sci-fi, I would give these books a pass. I'm not going on to the third book but, then, it's the actual sequel to the first book, and I didn't like any of those characters, and I don't care what happens "next". Last note: Having said all of that, I do have some ideas about how this book relates to the first book in a more substantial way, but there's no way to verify any of it; it's all speculation on my part and, although it would be neat, it also doesn't matter, not to the story.
Maybe if there's ever a fourth book and Vinge pulls all of these threads he's left lying around together, maybe, I'll read that one; otherwise, I don't plan on reading anymore Vinge. Jul 22, Palmyrah rated it liked it.
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An interesting variation on a science fiction theme I am especially fond of, the first-contact story. In this case, the monstrous alien invaders are the humans, conspiring to foment nuclear war among a race of unsuspecting intelligent arachnoids. To make things more interesting and give us some anthropomorphs to cheer for , the humans are also divided up into good guys and bad guys. Of course, the above variation has already been explored in SF.
Frederik Pohl's Jem springs to mind; indeed, Pohl An interesting variation on a science fiction theme I am especially fond of, the first-contact story. Frederik Pohl's Jem springs to mind; indeed, Pohl seems to be a strong influence on Vinge, and I was reminded of the former many times while reading this book.
Pohl is, however, by far the better writer. Vinge, a professor of mathematics by day, doesn't seem to be able to write convincing characters. Out of a cast of dozens, he manages to make us care about just one: The real humans are all cardboard. Of course, cardboard characters are pretty much to be expected in hard SF. The virtues of the genre lie elsewhere, and its aficionados rightly don't give a toss for the traditional literary ones. But Vinge has problems that go beyond the usual. For one thing, he aims higher.
However, he reveals an amateur's clumsiness in deploying his characters, clearly finding it hard to move them around and make them interact convincingly. Nearly all the scenes involving human interaction are cartoonish and unconvincing. This includes scenes featuring the aliens, who are presented to us by the author as human in all respects but the physical. This, incidentally, is one of many places in the text where the reader's willing suspension of disbelief falters, for the aliens are utterly different from us in terms of their physical structure, sensory perceptions, instinctive tropisms and reproductive behaviour.
Even given the excuse that we see them, for most of the book, through the mediating lens of human perception, they shouldn't be quite so like us. Surely these physical differences must make for mental ones as well? But Vernor Vinge appears to be immune to the fascinations of speculative xenopsychology, and we are left with creatures that look like giant spiders but act just like people.
Other aspects of the plot also beggar belief. The regularly interrupted social evolution of the arachnoids nevertheless proceeds incredibly fast — they go from early experiments with internal-combustion engines to intercontinental ballistic missiles within a single generation. The turning of the human Ezr Vinh, a critical plot element, is based on an impossible chain of extrapolations from an obscure hint dropped by another character.
A starship explicitly not designed for operating within a planetary atmosphere, last seen falling at one hundred metres per second, wreathed in flames and starting to break up, somehow manages to land without killing its crew.
Civilizations rise and fall within the timeframe of a mere thousand years, yet humans undertake trading voyages between the stars that last for centuries. The whole thing is confused and rather nonsensical. The author is so uninvolved with his characters that he casually dumps the two most sympathetic ones for good in a scene that takes place offstage.
Indeed, many vital scenes are pushed offstage. Among them is the action climax of the novel, the aforementioned starship crash. Perhaps it's just as well; the only big action scene in the book, which takes place inside the chief bad guy's artificial water-garden, is a clumsy, sodden mess.
The chief villain's comeuppance is also unsatisfyingly quick and merciful, while that of his sadistic lieutenant takes place — again, and frustratingly — offstage. This is a scene we are dying to see through his eyes, but he's long gone by the time we hear what's happened to him. Equally incompetent are the handling of an early, mandatory scene in which the bad guys are revealed to be sadistic perverts, and various other scenes of violence, cruelty or complex action — frankly, the author is too squeamish to write them properly, and he shouldn't even have tried.
So, with all these complaints, why am I giving this book three stars? Well, it kept me reading. Some of the technical ideas were interesting, though nothing was actually new or even very freshly rendered. And first-contact stories are my favourite kind of hard SF story.
Yes, there were times when I grew bored with the endless backstory expositions, the cartoon characters, the long, long gaps between important scenes — Vinge captures the tedium of deep-space exile only too well — but for all that, I kept reading. Of course, I'm a genre slut — I always have round heels for SF — so for me it was a three-star book despite its decidedly two-star qualities.
I shall now go and re-read one of Iain M. The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, both groups must wait at the aliens' very doorstep for their strange star to relight and for their planet to reawaken, as it does every two hundred and fifty years. More than just a great science fiction adventure, A Deepness in the Sky is a universal drama of courage, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of love.
Known for his rigorous hard-science approach to his science fiction, he be We want your feedback! Click here. Subjects Fiction Science Fiction. A Hugo award-winning Novel! Fiction Science Fiction. Publication Details Publisher:Showing Some might feel the aliens are too "relatable" for a truly alien race however, there is a deliberate purpose to this. The story jumps around in its timeline to give you the backstory of the characters or groups when given details become relevant to the main plot.
One of these books which everybody should have read. Meanwhile, attracted by spider radio transmissions, two human starfleets come exploring - merchants hoping for customers and tyrants who want slaves. The evolutionary role of such people - both the fearless hero, Nuwen, and the bloodthirsty predator, Nau - is not handled explicitly, but Pham is held up as a paragon.
This breaks the heart of Qiwi and Ezr, who have Focused loved ones, even as it fires up Pham's mind with the possibilities of what one could achieve, if one is willing to pay the price.
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