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A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought series Book 2) Kindle Edition
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B002H8ORKM
- Publisher : Tor Books; First edition (April 1, 2007)
- Publication date : April 1, 2007
- Language : English
- File size : 2130 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 796 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #67,309 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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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.
I'm pretty impressed with the gender politics in this book (esp being written in the 90s) -- mix of very well-developed, powerful, and technically compentent female characters, which unfortunately can be somewhat lacking in some sci-fi. This book also has somewhat flipped (though not quite) gender roles in the Spider society, which is a delight to read (e.g. the main female protagonist amongst the Spiders is referred to most frequently as "The General" and radio broadcasts might say things like, "...letting this perversion into our homes, into the ears of our husbands and children.") I think it's a very nice touch.
My only complaint is that the sudden pairing off of so many of the main characters at the very end of the book felt pretty forced to me. It would have been nice to see some gay characters as well, but that isn't necessarily a deal-breaker for me. It's more that the pairing off felt rather like a forced happy ending that didn't quite work tonally, and the relationships didn't really feel earned imo.
tldr: great book, but the first 50 pages or so will be pretty boring if you don't already care about the Qeng Ho.
The main plot, which is humans playing a long espionage game on spaceships against completely evil tyrants, plays out with high tension, I will give him that. It's a memorable fight, with an engaging main character, but you get the feeling that the really high concept sci-fi stuff happens before and after the novel.
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.
A Deepness in the Sky is science fiction at its very best with believable aliens and even more believable humans. The concepts are mind-boggling, the ideas are abundant and the culmination to the climax is a masterclass.
Vernor Vinge takes his time. 770 pages were needed to reveal, one after the other, the secrets and the evolution of an exotic, and not anthropomorphically bipedal alien civilization (remember, nothing is easy) along with the struggles of human space traders, their ruthless human opponents and the personal apotheosis of one of science fiction’s most intriguing characters, the one and only leader of the Queng Ho, Pham Nuwen.
A Deepness in the Sky is one of the rarest diamonds of science fiction which give the genre a good name.
Top reviews from other countries
I first came across Verner Vinge when looking for some authors who could give me something that has been dearly missing since the demise of Iain M. Banks, a good old fashioned Space Opera. I picked up his first book 'A Fire on the Deep' which clipped along nicely and was for the most part (despite a fairly unsatisfying ending) scratched the itch and so gamely picked up the second book expecting more of the same.
Careful what you wish for. A deepness in the sky was indeed more of the same, to a fault, but minus the sense of adventure and quest of the former (in this book the protagonist for the most part don't go anywhere, spending most of their time on a spaceship). It becomes starkly obvious that Mr. Vinge is something of a fan of capitalism, we all have our kinks and weirdnesses to be sure, but each to it's time and place, someone who can't imagine anything better than free market capitalism, is far to credulous in their understanding and doesn't really have any business writing speculative fiction about the future. The vision of free market capitalism presented in this book, is one which any 90's White House economic advisor would recognise and approve of (and was such a wild success in the former Soviet block it saw life expectancy fall by nearly a decade), capitalism is freedom and freedom is capitalism, and if you don't like capitalism you must hate freedom. Never mind history, never mind famine, slavery followed by wage slavery, never mind empire and colonialism or gunboat diplomacy, the beauty of the free market can never be superseded, who needs art?
Two other phenomena Vinge has a weird fetish for are geniuses and autism. Whereas in his last book we were treated to only two geniuses, here we have about a dozen, including alien spiders. They see things no one else can see (except the treachery of the bad guys), they make things no one else can make, other character express their profound admiration and disbelief and of course they save the day, no plot point can stand in their way. Of course this is genius in the modern sense, the old sense of genius was that it was a manifestation of God or a spirit (hence 'genie') working through you, it was a sign that you had perfected your craft, the concept implied humility not grandiosity, someone who had surrendered and dedicated themselves to a craft so a cobbler could be a 'genius' I they were a good cobbler, or anyone who did anything well. The modern sense has none of that, it is a unique profoundly rare thing that only the most special of special people have, compared to whom other mere mortals may as well be mud figurines, the world pauses for breathe when they are inspired and shakes when they shout "eureka". It exists in isolation in the individual of course and has nothing to do with environmental or collective considerations. The author clearly fancies themselves as such a luminary, the perfunctory prose, barely extant plot (I can't fathom why this book needed to be so long) and narrow rota of character types, says otherwise.
As for autism, well in this book the badies have a secret weapon/unfair advantage that allows them to defeat the space-faring capitalism geniuses, they can give people autism, in this book it's presented as a mutation/side effect of something called "mind rot", but whatever name it is given in the book it is plainly clear what is being described here, on both a symptomatic and functional level. It is described as a kind of slavery as well as a perfect fusion of machine and man. In other words perpetuating every negative autistic stereotype you could imagine, less-than-human automatons with not even the decency to grant them agency.
It is not surprising that the post war generation born to a country which had an unprecedented volume of the world's wealth in the aftermath of WW2 have a curiously affectionate view of capitalism earlier sci-fi authors did not. Though when it comes to imagining or envisioning the future the trick is to imagine something different, either worse or better, that will tell us something about the moment we live in indirectly. Routinely informing the reader that "free market" capitalism is the best thing ever does nothing any hack politician or journalist wouldn't tell you either today or thirty years ago.
This wouldn't even matter is the book showed an author building on the previous work rather than, using the same bag of tricks only less imaginatively, but despite being a 600+ page book it's so lacking in substance that these flaws stand out so starkly and the rest fades into mush.
As with 'a fire on the deep' we get a bad guy who presents a deceptively nice outward face to a confused young genius, but is really both evil and cruel. You get an alien race (this time one rather than two) albeit one far less differentiated and interesting than the telepathic dog pack aliens from the former book. We have a large maguffin that the author sets up in the early portion of the book and then ignores (in the former a hyper-advanced, galaxy threatening malevolent AI, in the latter the on-off star, neither explored nor explained). Unlike with the former there is no real sense of journey or quest, the main characters pretty much all stay in the same place, creeping their way to a forgone and heavily-telegraphed, unrevealing conclusion.
I finished it, so it can't have been all bad which is why it get two not one stars, but in hindsight it really wasn't worth it, I don't know why the modern era can't seem to do decent space opera anymore. Where people travel interstellar distances, meet a variety of weird civilisations, ride in big F*** off spaceships, have the odd space battle and make use of wondrous technologies, but it seems the particular knack of being able to do it passed with Iain M. Banks. Next time I'll stick to the classics, people who can both write with stunning prose, imagine the unimaginable, and show us genuinely new worlds and new paradigms, true artists of sci fi, Le Guin, K Dick, and Gene Wolfe.
Whilst I didn't find the this book quite as epic, the story is still very well thought through and it is still a very enjoyable read. As the story progresses it paints the picture of an alien civilization that lives upon a mysterious planet beside a star that cycles between on and off phases. Just like the previous book, the book alternates between the two stories until they finally merge together towards the end of the book.
Definitely read Fire first, as you really need to get the full impact of that book. But there's nothing fundamentally wrong with this book, it's by all measures excellent. But it suffers from one's inevitable need to measure it against the lofty heights set by Fire.
Written in the same universe as his first book but linked only by a single character, this is a wonderful character driven novel. The science element of it is interesting but plays second fiddle to the development of the three protagonist cultures. Characters are built up and stand within their own very strong personalities; these personalities then flow through the various plans and overall story to create a highly engaging and enjoyable work.
Ironically have read Adrian Tchaikovsky's novel "Children of Time", which is about Spiders, I then read Vinge's first book about dogs, this book - his second "A Fire upon the Deep" - about Spiders, and now I've returned to a second Tchaikovksy book "The Dogs of War"! I'm going to have to read something about humans soon ;-)
My only regret is that his third book, which follows his first, only seems to be available as an out of print paper copy - booooo!!!
Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl & Undon now available on Amazon.
This is a prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep , set in the days of the Qeng Ho from which Pham Nuwen rose. It's works perfectly fine as a standalone novel and in my opinion even outshines it's great predecessor.
The zones so important to the first book are merely hinted upon here, but this novel features the most fascinating and detailed description of an alien society I've read (even beating that in The Mote Series . You can't help but like the creepy looking aliens, while the humans in the story often behave at their most despicable. Other engrossing facets are the rise of a technological society, the cold war setting and the fallacy of trusting manipulated information, computer networks and "unbreakable" encryption. Not to mention the rather unique world (or solar system) in which most of the story takes place.
A book packed full of interesting concepts and characters, this is a must read for any fellow nerd.