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A Deepness in the Sky Hardcover – Feb 15 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (Feb. 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312856830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312856830
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15.2 x 4.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #889,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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The Qeng Ho fleet was first to arrive at the OnOff star. Read the first page
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E.K. on Aug. 14 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found this book by looking at the Hugo award list from recent years, yet I can't see why this book won anything. The concepts in it are fun to read about, specifically life on (and in) a pile of space debris, and the intrigue between two different groups of people, one using enslaved humans as living computers and the other an ancient trading group.
Unfortunately, I think a good book needs to be one which I look forward to reading, one which occupies my thoughts when I'm not in it and makes me rush home from school to pick it up, and this is no such book. The size is unneccessary, Vernor Vinge could have cut out about 200 pages of dreary, too-mundane descriptions of the daily life of the aliens. I cared nothing about the spider creatures and their extremely monotonous lives, which Vinge details over dozens of pages.
Toward the end, as it became a question of "Will I finish this book at all?" I had to make a desperate move, and begin skipping big parts of chapters. I had no trouble keeping up with the plot at all, despite racing through the last half of the book, since so many pages are completely superfluous and totally uninteresting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 18 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an overlong book made worse by sloppy writing. The same distant, cold style is used for both technical descriptions and supposedly ardent human interactions. It's like reading one of those pseudo-English user manuals that come with overseas audio equipment. The reader is left clueless as to which characters/ideas are important and which aren't. Everything is painted with the same brush. Combine that with less substance than can sustain a long novel and tedium sets in very soon. I admit I gave up on the book after 300 pages.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Set twenty thousand years earlier than A Fire Upon The Deep, Vernor Vinge's second book in the Zones of Thought universe shares little and requires nothing of its companion volume. It's action alternates between the inhabitants of an alien world and human observers concealed in orbit above. The Spiders have developed pre-space flight technology and struggle with the 250-year freeze-and-thaw cycle of their planet's On/Off variable star. The orbiting humans consist of two factions. The Qeng Ho have goals of trade and communication. The Emergents have the more direct agenda of conquest and domination. As the book proceeds, we watch the Spiders develop technically and socially. Simultaneously, the more advanced Emergents and Qeng Ho intrigue, fight, integrate, intrigue and fight. It all works out much better than it should.

Like Vinge's other fiction, this book is host to a number of "big ideas" that take the stage along with the actions and inactions of the characters. They include:

An alien species--the Spiders--that seems far less alien than they really should. What seems like bad writing through much of the book is given a reasonable explanation in the end. These creatures are interesting and even--heaven help me--cute.

A variable star turns on and off at regular intervals. The possible explanations are intriguing as are its effects on the evolution of life on its planets.

A tailored "mindrot" virus produces various neurological effects, including an exaggerated ability to concentrate called "Focus." The virus is both a disease and an altered state that makes workers diligent, productive and savant-like.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Seriously unreadable. Got halfway though the book before realising I didn't care about any of the characters. Didn't even finish it.
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By elwin on May 12 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is great science fiction! I usually like Vinge's books, and this one was fully up to par. It intertwines two converging stories. One is about a group of (human) freedom loving space traders who travel and sell in many star systems, who are thrown together with (human) totalitarian exploiters. The other is about an intelligent race of spiders whose "on-off" star blinks with a century-long period -- thus they must endure a multi-decade deep freeze during their lifetimes (the "Deepness" in the title is a place where spiders can hibernate through a freeze).
This is great science fiction. The plot is exciting, and Vinge invents and explores the ramifications of several interesting technologies plus the weird on-off star environment. He also explores social conflicts between the human societies and the spider societies. Both sets of societies appear to have intentional parallels with current societies here on earth.
I believe Vinge intends those parallels to be an important part of the book, so I'm going to write a little more about them. Many of Vinge's books feature societies based around a libertarian ideal of little or no government, and privatization of government's traditional functions. For example, in a story called "The Ungoverned," a section of the former United States has no government at all, and people hire private companies with names like "Michigan State Police" and "Al's protection Racket" for traditional government services.
One problem with a government-free society is the possibility that some people may completely trample the rights of others without fear of reprisal. In "Deepness," Vinge encapsulates that problem as the problem slavery.
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