- Series: Zones of Thought Sequel (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (February 15, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312856830
- ISBN-13: 978-0312856830
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 384 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Deepness in the Sky Hardcover – February 15, 1999
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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
From Library Journal
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.
Top customer reviews
NEEDED its 700+ pages. I am re-reading it again for my book group and am pleased to report that on re-reading I still feel the same way. EVERY SF fan should read this book.
BUT THIS TIME I read it on my kindle (for only $2.99 thanks to Matchbook pricing, since I bought my hardcopy edition from Amazon in 1999), and I cannot really recommend this book on Kindle without a warning. Like many books, this one switches scenes within the same chapter, e.g., from humans to the "Spiders". The hardcopy contains the conventional blank line that warns the reader of the shift. The Kindle format does not, and the reader is often brought up short as they realize something has changed. My immersion in Vinge's world is interrupted, and my enjoyment suffers.
If the publisher is listening, please reformat your ebook.
Prospective readers, DO get this book, but the choice of medium may be more difficult than usual.
The first novel gave us a species of alien that were a race of collective beings/intelligence. This one turns the bug war theme on its head and shows us a sympathetic species of arachnids. This species is being watched by group of Queng Ho and an antagonistic rival, the Emergent with the hopes the arachnids will develop the technology that will save the humans and allow them to go home.
Spanning over 40 years of objective time, Vinge spins one of the most imaginative SciFi stories I have ever encountered. We have vivid description of the advancing of an alien civilization, we have the back history of the Queng Ho and Pham Nuwen and the conflict between space faring cultures. Vernor Vinge is a mind boggling visionary.
The book is gripping from beginning to end, spanning thousands of years in narrative. There are dozens of threads going on throughout the book and Vinge manages to keep them all clear and progressing to a very satisfying conclusion.
If you haven't read this book, you are missing out on the best science fiction has to offer, and one hell of an author.
I do recommend reading the first book in this series first. While it is not necessary from a plot angle (as the two stories take part thousands of years away from each other) one of the characters (sort of) in both is more appreciated if encountered in the first book first. The character is one of the best ever in science fiction. I won't say who it is.
Ok 'nuff "book review" gibberish: if you dig hardcore / future SF - you MUST read Virge....I eagerly look forward to devouring all his other works!
It's set in the far future and the main action is spread over a century or so, with characters spending much of their time in cryo-sleep, living on huge starships, so it can be a little hard to relate to. Still, the characters' attempts to stay human and think about normal things like green space, art and family are central to the story. The action is split between the human spacers and the native "Spiders", who are sometimes jarringly human-like. Cleverly, though, Vinge implies that the Spider chapters look this way because of how the humans' translators work, and the anthropomorphism is crucial to the plot. Nicely done.
I came to this book without having read "A Fire Upon the Deep" and had no problems understanding it.
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