A Deepness in the Sky: Vernor Vinge (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

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A Deepness in the Sky: Vernor Vinge (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

A Deepness in the Sky: Vernor Vinge (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

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What might seem cruel, sick, and disturbing for humans would be completely normal, even necessary for them, and create no real suffering because they aren´t that emotional or have a different, difficult to understand mentality in contrast to the completely oversocialized humans.

While on the surface their appearance is so different from that of humans, from a psychological standpoint they are so similar! Underhill summarizes this sentiment rather nicely when he talks about wanting to make invention the mother of necessity rather than the other way around: innovations require social change. The book is extremely strong, but it is hard to read it in one go; it clearly benefits from a reread.

Once I understood why they were described in this way, the story made more sense, but it’s a major spoiler to say much more, and even after the truth emerged, I wasn’t really comfortable with how Vinge handled this part of the story. This "Counter Lurk" was devised by Spider uber-genius Sherkaner Underhill, but it seemed cinematic and implausible to me. But, with his trip down to Lands Command to have taken him through wondrous and strange places, seeing how the Dark affects their world and thinking about the means they’ll need to change it, when he reaches the end of his journey, and his schemes fall on the ears of the only person who could really hear them, Sherkaner will find himself in the years ahead in a post of great responsibility, holding in his hands the future of all of them. We were briefly introduced to the Qeng Ho in Fire as the 'reconstructed' human there was Pham Nuwen who hailed (and in fact helped found) the Qeng Ho, an interstellar trading 'family' existing across human colonized space. The Queng Ho and the Emergents are orbiting the dormant planet Arachna, which is about to wake up to technology, but the Emergents' plans are sinister.

In the elite group of authors of speculative fiction that truly understand the power of story and are masters of it, we must include such names as J. As much as I liked A Fire Upon the Deep, its hard-science-fiction tropes never quite cohere, and the story and characterization suffer as a result.Neither side trusts the other and soon enough, treachery happens shortly after both sides begin to investigate the spider planet (which is currently in a 'dark' or 'off' period).

A Deepness in the Sky is not going to dislodge another book from that list but it is still an indispensable read all the same. In the eight thousand years of space travel, Humankind has steadily spread outward of the Earth’s solar system, exploring the unknown wonders of the galaxy, colonizing one planetary system after the other, and establishing the supremacy of its civilisations across the Human Space; yet now, with the Trilanders to have picked up emissions from the OnOff star: a bizarre, mysterious system with only a single planet that turns itself off for 215 years out of every 250, and has drawn over the millennia the interest of astrophysicists, two human expeditions, the Qeng Ho and the Emergents, are on the verge of first contact with an alien race, arriving to discover the treasures of their world and to learn its secrets – but Ezr Vihn, an Apprentice Trader and the main heir of the Vihn.

I did get lost in some scientific details but most of them do become self explanatory as you read on. On the contrary, he is so very believable that rather than finding that reality causes us to question the narrative, the narrative causes us to question reality in chilling and uncomfortable ways. Only one concrete connection links A Deepness in the Sky with A Fire Upon the Deep: the character of Pham Nuwen, the "Programmer-at-Arms", who appears in both books. Vinge excels at thinking about primitive alien species, and much like the telepathic dog packs in A Fire Upon the Deep, he devotes lots of pages to describing their society in depth. I don't just worry about the future of my generation, or the future of the generation after mine, or the future of a couple of generations down the line.

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