- Mass Market Paperback: 792 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (Jan. 15 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812536355
- ISBN-13: 978-0812536355
- Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 3.3 x 17 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Deepness in the Sky Mass Market Paperback – Jan 15 2000
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“Huge, intricate, and ingenious, with superbly realized aliens:a chilling spellbinding dramatization of the horrors of slavery and mind control.” ―Kirkus Reviews (pointer review)
“A feast of imagination. As always, Vinge satisfies with richly imagined worlds and a full-flavored story.” ―Greg Bear
“Wonderfully engaging!” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Vernor Vinge has won five Hugo Awards, including one for each of his last three novels, A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999), and Rainbow's End (2006). Known for his rigorous hard-science approach to his science fiction, he became an iconic figure among cybernetic scientists with the publication in 1981 of his novella "True Names," which is considered a seminal, visionary work of Internet fiction. His many books also include Marooned in Realtime and The Peace War.
Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin and raised in Central Michigan, Vinge is the son of geographers. Fascinated by science and particularly computers from an early age, he has a Ph.D. in computer science, and taught mathematics and computer science at San Diego State University for thirty years. He has gained a great deal of attention both here and abroad for his theory of the coming machine intelligence Singularity. Sought widely as a speaker to both business and scientific groups, he lives in San Diego, California.See all Product description
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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. It has uses and abuses, not always easy to distinguish.
A flexible, self-organizing network technology constructed of large numbers of simple processors massively interconnected. The security and flexibility of the resulting "mesh networks" are explored by their Qeng Ho and Emergent users.
If you plan to also read A Fire Upon The Deep, then read it first for the most enjoyable experience. That said, this book can stand on its own and is good, enjoyable space opera. The story has its darker elements, but is well-worth a persistent reading. With good justification, it is considered one of science fiction's classics.
This book bears even less relationship to Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep than one might imagine, and really doesn't deserve to be called a prequel - they're two totally independent novels separated by thousands of years, that happen to share one major character, and even that character is really a pretty generic sci-fi hero. And since Pham Newem is the real star of this book, it's hard to see why so many pages are devoted to the hapless Ezr and his uncomfortable love triangle with Trixia and Qiwi, for example. Even less pertinent are the seemingly interminable chapters about the Spiders, and one Spider family (does it even make sense for Spiders to have families?) in particular.
Although this is in many ways an excellent book, and certainly worth the effort for ardent sci-fi readers, one could hardly blame you if you found yourself skimming through some sections that don't seem to move things forward. Younger readers in particular should steer clear, not so much because of a couple of inappropriate scenes (Vinge wants us to see what monsters the Emergents really are, and occasionally crosses the line) as because the plot's glacial slowness may be too much for their attention spans.
As with FUtD, there's a growing horror at work in this book as the helplessness of the Qeng Ho (read capitalist good guys) seems to reach a totality that smacks too much of melodrama. It might actually have been better to break this ungainly tome up into a series of shorter novels, and try to work some hopeful note into the conclusion of each, without giving away the final resolution.
An excellent piece of sci-fi intrigue that could have been a little more tightly focused, but still ranks as top-notch escapism.
The premise in this novel is pretty radical. Two human societies are competing for the opportunity to exploit the resources of a newly discovered alien civilization. One society is secretive and repressive, and the other relies on a complicated ideology based on commerce and information sharing. Neither has a plan for returning to their home systems that doesn't involve waiting for the alien civilization to undergo rapid, 20th century-style technological improvement, so they have a long time to sit around and wait with each other. Can these two disparate economic philosophies get along? Hey! You're anchovies fell in MY peanut butter!
Vernor Vinge makes this all work, and successfully draws it out into a novel that would normally be of prohibitive length. The repressive bad guys have unusually clever leadership for a bunch of moustache-twirlers. They are masters of trickery and propaganda, though Vinge is not above letting them have tastes for brutality and rape.
The alien civilization initially seems charming and cutesy, until the reader understands the filter through which they are being viewed. It's a neat authorial trick, and is one of the many innovative features of this novel. Both alien and reconstituted human societies have an abundance of fascinating characters and surprisingly few cliches, and Vinge weaves them around to create an amazing display of storytelling. A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY is fully worth the considerable investment involved in reading it.
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