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A Deepness in the Sky

4 Ratings: 4.3
A book by Vernor Vinge

This hefty novel returns to the universe of Vernor Vinge's 1993HugowinnerA 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 … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Vernor Vinge
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
1 review about A Deepness in the Sky

Entertaining, overlong space opera

  • Jul 26, 2007
Rating:
+3
A long (606 pages), sprawling prequel to his Hugo Award-winning "A Fire Upon the Deep," this novel takes place 30,000 years earlier, therefore sharing little in the way of story.

As the ancient space-faring traders, the Qeng Ho, and a newer race of ruthless opportunists, the Emergents, converge on a peculiar, unexplored solar system, treachery nearly destroys both.

In a universe where technological societies overload and inevitably (usually violently) collapse into barbarism and chaos, the Emergents have clawed their way back to civilization. Though their technology is not the equal of the Qeng Ho's, they have an edge that allows them to defeat the trader ships - a mindrot virus, which intellectually enslaves those it doesn't kill.

With the ships of both sides crippled, the victorious Emergents and their Qeng Ho subjects must lurk for decades in orbit above Arachna, waiting for the alien population to achieve technological advancement. The aliens, called Spiders, lie dormant until their sun, the OnOff star, relights which it does for 50 years after 215 years of frozen darkness.

But Sherkaner Underhill, Spider genius, wants to break the cycle through technology and keep civilization going through the dark years. Meanwhile legendary, visionary Qeng Ho hero Pham Nuwen, embittered by his own failed dreams, lives in buffoonish obscurity, plotting to overthrow the Emergents before they can destroy the Spider race. His only co-conspirator is young, brash Ezr Vinh who is devastated by the effects of the mindrot virus on his brilliant lover Trixia who now acts as Spider translator.

The novel has plenty of twists and turns with a few diversions into Pham Nuwen's past and the evolution of his ideas on civilization and government. It could be 200 pages shorter but all in all it's fast-paced entertainment with likable characters and intriguing technological furnishings. The one bothersome question is why the Spiders are so keen to stay awake through the inhospitable dark when their life spans are no longer than human's.

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