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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Deepness in the Sky

A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought) by Vernor Vinge

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

July 6, 2001

I had pretty much finished "A Fire Upon the Deep" and since I liked it I decided to give its prequel "A Deepness in the Sky" a try. I was not disappointed.

Anyone who read Fire Upon the Deep knows that a direct sequel was pretty tough (with all of the main characters being either stranded or killed by the end), but a prequel provided quite a bit of insight into Pham Nuwen, one of "Fire"'s central characters.

Much like Fire Upon the Deep, this book is long, but it isn't tedious. There are quite a few characters which are followed for roughly 40 years, but the people are not so spread out and disconnected that the author or reader gets lost of confused about who and where people are. The beginning is slow going, but eventually I was drawn into the web of intrigue being spun by Vinge. To put it succinctly, if you liked Fire Upon the Deep, you'll like this book too.

The fundamental flaw, though, with both of Vinge's books (moreso this latest work) is that he assumes that all cultures inevitably develop the same way. No matter how alien the race is they will all develop radio, computers, nuclear weapons, etc. In essence, all alien races will become like humans, as we see in this book with the "Spiders". When we first meet the Spiders they are already much like humans with cars and radio, but in time they become even more human with their own Arms/Space Race, computer networks, nuclear weapons, even a form of television. I can understand that a lot of this was to accomodate the story, but honestly I think that any alien race will be just that, alien, and won't necessarily follow the same path of development that we have on Earth. That is the biggest drawback to this story, but it is easily ignored.

The end of "Deepness" leaves more than enough room open for another prequel, where we can learn all about the last years of Pham Nuwen's life before he is inevitably killed until being resurrected many, many years later.

Overall, Deepness in the Sky is intimidating in size, but the deeper you delve into the book, the more you will enjoy it.

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