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This hefty novel returns to the universe of Vernor Vinge's 1993 Hugo winner A Fire Upon the Deep--but 30,000 years earlier. The story has the same sense of epic vastness despite happening mostly in one isolated solar system. Here there's a world of intelligent spider creatures who traditionally hibernate through the "Deepest Darkness" of their strange variable sun's long "off" periods, when even the atmosphere freezes. Now, science offers them an alternative... Meanwhile, attracted by spider radio transmissions, two human starfleets come exploring--merchants hoping for customers and tyrants who want slaves. Their inevitable clash leaves both fleets crippled, with the power in the wrong hands, which leads to a long wait in space until the spiders develop exploitable technology. Over the years Vinge builds palpable tension through multiple storylines and characters. In the sky, hopes of rebellion against tyranny continue despite soothing lies, brutal repression, and a mental bondage that can convert people into literal tools. Down below, the engagingly sympathetic spiders have their own problems. In flashback, we see the grandiose ideals and ultimate betrayal of the merchant culture's founder, now among the human contingent and pretending to be a senile buffoon while plotting, plotting... Major revelations, ironies, and payoffs follow. A powerful story in the grandest SF tradition. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk
A war between two rival civilizations over trading rights to the planet Arachna results in the virtual enslavement of the Qeng Ho by the victorious Emergent culture. As the Spider-folk of Arachna evolve in their customary cyclical pattern, unaware of the threat that lies in their near future, a few Qeng Ho rebels work desperately to free themselves and save Arachna from conquest. This prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep (Tor, 1992) demonstrates Vinge's capacity for meticulously detailed culture-building and grand-scale sf drama. Recommended for most sf collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Not very good. Predictable, saccharine, super super boring. I only finished this book out of stubbornness. Read morePublished 2 months ago by C. mcalister
Seriously unreadable. Got halfway though the book before realising I didn't care about any of the characters. Didn't even finish it.Published on May 28 2012 by Christian Eid
This is the best book I've read in a while. I'll admit, it's fairly dense and somewhat slow paced - if you like your sci-fi heavy on the 'splosions and sexiness, this is probably... Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2010 by C. Samuelsson
I found this book impossible to put down. The development of the characters, the evil podmasters, Pham Nuwen, the Spider society - it was all fascinating. Read morePublished on Nov. 5 2007 by Susan W
After reading A Fire Upon the Deep, I was eager to get my hands on this prequel. Vinge delivered again...in fact, this book is even slightly better than its predecessor. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2003 by themarsman
Vernor Vinge successfully juggles about a couple dozen characters with very rich personalities with out losing track of the story. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2003 by Colby A. Scott
Aging space trader Pham Newem has to save the newly-discovered Arachnid civilization from the brutal Emergents, who have learned how to incorporate the minds of human slaves into... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2003 by Dave Deubler
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. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003