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A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought #2)

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  20,626 Ratings  ·  626 Reviews
Alternative Cover Edition can be found here.

After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. Two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds.

The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, bo
Mass Market Paperback, 775 pages
Published January 15th 2000 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 18, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing
In the 'The Sixth Sense', the character Malcolm tries to tell a story. Unfortunately, it's a bad story, which Cole immediately picks up on, and comments, "You have to add some twists and stuff."

I tend to think that the essence of a well-crafted story is the unexpected. A good story has unexpected tragedies, unexpected joys, and unexpected crowning moments of awesome. Yet, there are a surprisingly few good writers that are also good story tellers. In fact, when it comes right down to it, I think
Jan 24, 2015 Apatt rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Vernor Vinge, a scientist who can tell a good yarn, another anomaly among genre writers, the other anomalous authors being China Miéville and David Brin, and they are all bald! Makes me want to shave my head, I bet Patrick Stewart can write amazing books if he wanted to, make it so Pat!

A few months ago I read A Fire Upon the Deep, Vinge's first "Zones of Thought" novel, it quickly barged its way into my all-time top 20 list. A Deepness in the Sky is not going to dislodge another book from that l
Dec 31, 2011 Connie rated it really liked it
Shelves: with-reviews
4.5 stars.

First--This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time, and, despite the fact that it doesn't quite earn a 5 star rating from me (more on that later), I would highly recommend the book to anyone who's remotely interested in science fiction. It's a testament to the book that I managed to finish it while in the midst of an extraordinarily busy semester.

Vinge really hits the balance of "science" and "fiction" almost perfectly--and, even though the book weighs in at a hefty
Mar 12, 2012 kat rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
I honestly have no idea how to even rate this. Objectively, it's a very solid book. Vinge's prose is kind of dry and his habit of throwing a bunch of hints at you before really telling you what's going on is alternately effective and obnoxious.

I found the first few hundred pages terribly hard to read, though. It's not a pleasant story, and Vinge doesn't pull any punches. If you're like me and triggered by deception, manipulation, and oh, rape with bonus memory-erasure... buyer beware. Vinge also
Have you ever read someone else's review of a book and thought, "Yes! That is exactly how I felt!"

Well, Apatt has nailed this one for me. To the extent that I'm not sure what else to add.

Seriously. Go read his review first, and then come back to hear me witter on if you're still interested...





So what can I add to that?

My first experience with Vinge was Rainbow's End, which I did not get along with. I thought it was rubbish. I picked up A Fire Upon the Deep as a Hugo winner, with a
Vernor Vinge has hit a home run twice in a row. A Deepness in the Sky had all the fantastic alienness mixed with human drama and far future sci-fi awesomeness that made A Fire Upon the Deep one of my favorite SF novels ever. I've become a lot pickier about my sci-fi, but A Deepness in the Sky has held up even better than the first book in the twelve years since it was written.

At its heart is a conflict between two starfaring cultures: the Qeng Ho, a culture of interstellar traders who take the l
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Aug 18, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans
I loved this and was up all night finishing it. That's rather rare with science fiction, at least hard science fiction. Few science fiction writers--hell, few writers--have Vinge's sense of pacing and ability to create suspense. That's because you care about his characters intensely, human as well as alien. Not something you find enough in Hard Science Fiction--and Vinge brings off some mind-blowing concepts without ever falling into infodump or other awkward constructions. I thought I had read ...more
Ben Babcock
I don't know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of time meditating upon the far future of humanity. 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. I'm talking one-, ten-, fifty-thousand years into the future. Will humanity still exist—would we recognize it as humanity even if it does? How many times between now and then will civilizations rise and fall? Because if there's one const ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Palmyrah rated it liked it
An interesting variation on a science fiction theme I am especially fond of, the first-contact story. In this case, the monstrous alien invaders are the humans, conspiring to foment nuclear war among a race of unsuspecting intelligent arachnoids. To make things more interesting (and give us some anthropomorphs to cheer for), the humans are also divided up into good guys and bad guys.

Of course, the above variation has already been explored in SF. Frederik Pohl's Jem springs to mind; indeed, Pohl
Mar 16, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic story. Books like this are why people read science fiction. Sure, it's got aliens and spaceships and technology that you have to use your imagination to understand, but at the core of it is a series of characters who are undergoing struggles that are truly timeless. I love this stuff.

I probably never will get tired of a well-written story where people are struggling against a ruthless tyrant. This is represented well here by Tomas Nau, the Emergent Podmaster, in control of hi
Dec 01, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoffrey Dow
Jul 30, 2012 Geoffrey Dow rated it it was ok
I really ought to know better by now. It doesn't matter whether an award is given out by fans or by peers, critics or the general public, whether the criteria is ostensibly "best" this or "favourite" that.

Awards are a crap shoot, influenced by fashions, by lobbying and by plain old bad taste.

That's right, I said it. Sometimes an award is given out to a book (or a movie, or a play, or a poem — the list is as endless as variations in the arts) that simply doesn't deserve it. That doesn't even meri
mark monday
Sep 01, 2013 mark monday rated it really liked it
Shelves: futuristik
I was imagining a movie version while I was reading this one. half of the movie would be animated and would feature adorable spider-aliens. love those aliens. but I don't know what I'd do about the endless cycle of rape and mind control that happens to a particularly sympathetic character. I don't think I'd want that in my movie.
Sep 03, 2014 Justin rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, audio
I understand the appeal of this book. I loved A Fire Upon The Deep. But I was very disappointed in this one. It all came down to the spiders.

One would think that an alien species evolving many, many light years from Earth would end up with a culture, history, and technological advancement utterly alien (pun intended) to what Earth spawned. Instead, we find the spiders living in a near carbon copy of 20th-century Earth.

I know much of what we read with the spiders is supposed to be coming at us th
Aug 12, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: moderately advanced science fiction fans :-)
Recommended to Richard by:
This is an Michener-sized epic tale of conflict, cooperation and betrayal between two human civilizations racing to make first contact with an alien race.

To a very small extent, this is a prequel to Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep — it is set much earlier in the same universe, and features the character Pham Nuwen (who plays a somewhat unusual role in Fire).

While Fire involves the interactions between many races, Deepness takes place before humans had met any other technological civilizations. It
Feb 05, 2015 C.W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, audiobook
This one is just as good - if not better - than the first. It's got almost nothing to do plot-wise with the first one, so the two stand alone really well. This one surrounds these two groups of humans - the Qeng Ho, an interstellar trader organization that's existed for centuries, and the Emergents, an oppressive civilization that's only just recently recovered from a Dark Age - as both groups discover a planet that orbits something called the On/Off Star; a star that becomes dormant, releases l ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I loved this epic. Two groups of humans are converging on the only planet that revolves around the On/Off star. The Queng Ho are a group of traders that have been loosely connected for thousands of years. The Emergents are from a planet fairly recently back (in relationship to the Queng Ho) after an apocolyptic event of some kind. While the Queng Ho have quite sophisticated technology, the Emergents have Focus.

The two groups converge on the On/Off system during an off period, when the sentient,
Feb 02, 2011 Nathaniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
It's strange how I stumbled upon some sci-fi authors so early (Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Card) because it seemed my friends and parents' friends were all reading them (a lot of my recommendations for reading as a kid came from adults rather than from other kids), and yet other authors (Cherryh, Bujold, Vinge) I never even heard of.

That's the reason I'm enjoying going through the Hugo winners methodically - it's like a more unbiased sample of everything there is out there. It's the reason that I
May 08, 2013 Ingmar rated it it was amazing
(Spoiler free review, at least as far as possible)

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
Jamie Collins
This is a prequel of sorts to another of Vinge's Hugo Award-winning novels, A Fire Upon the Deep, although it can be read independently. They're both good books, but I liked this one better.

It's fascinating far-future hard science fiction with some unusual elements: humans have spread out into the galaxy but their technology does not include faster-than-light travel or anti-gravity. Human lifetimes have been extended to a few hundred years, but the interstellar travelers featured in this story u
Another superb Vernor Vinge book. The first 150 pages or so are a little slow. It's mostly setup for the story lines that come into their own later on. The entire middle of the book builds and builds, and the last 150 pages go so fast you won't believe it's over. If you've read A Fire Upon the Deep, you will be chuckling to yourself toward the end as certain things are discovered on Arachnia.

The characters are excellent and realistic. Tomas Nau and Brugel are villeins you'll love to hate. Vinh
Apr 04, 2014 Don rated it it was ok
About 1/4 of the way through the 774 pages of the paperback I had to give it up ... this book is tedious. There are long pages between any sections that actually matter and I finally lost interest waiting to get to the next "good part." Unfortunately even the "good parts" were not that good -- while the rest of the book seemed to go on and on the parts that actually mattered seemed written as executive summaries without any sense of suspense or even any interesting impact. The author seems to ha ...more
Apr 07, 2016 Mazzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am profoundly impressed by this book. What Vernor Vinge created it quite unique and incredible.
Jan 20, 2012 Sandi marked it as paused
Shelves: sci-fi, first-reads
5/15/10--It may sound stupid, but I'm glad I won this FirstReads book that is nowhere near new. I loved A Fire Upon The Deep. I think Tor put a lot of their most popular books on FirstReads to celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
Dec 07, 2015 Arkadeb rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, science-fiction
I really want to rate this 5 stars. As it is my rating should be 4.5.

What made this book special for me was that I had no idea where the story was going. I read a lot and I often find that after reading 20-25% of a book I have a basic idea about the general outline of the story. This often makes reading a bit boring. But with this book I had no idea, mainly because there were so many options. There were some brilliant twists and a tiny remark at the end which cleared up what was a rather big que
Zarathustra Goertzel
Aug 30, 2015 Zarathustra Goertzel rated it it was amazing
Well, I'm amazed. I almost gave up after reading the prolog. No more zones of thought? No more flirting with the transcendent? Not even a continuation of the story (okay, we do get more of The Man). Isn't this just another space opera then? Nooope~

You get some great characters.
You get funky aliens, albeit less different than the Tines :p
You get dreams of grand empires, and their limitations in the Slowness.
You get explorations of different kinds of minds; human ones this time.
You get Focus.

Yaasha Moriah
Jun 10, 2015 Yaasha Moriah rated it it was amazing
Every two hundred fifty years, the OnOff star relights. During its period of warmth, the Spiders who live on the planet below emerge from their Deepnesses and rebuild their world for the few decades before the OnOff star falls back into the darkness of its dormancy. This Lighting, however, is different. Two star-faring human races—the trade-loving Qeng Ho and the crafty Emergents—await the event, each hoping to be the first to contact the Spiders at the appropriate time. But before long,
Mar 15, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing
Second time through, and now I think it's my favorite sci-fi book.
Jan 15, 2016 Dominic rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A decent follow up to the excellent "Fires Upon thr Deep". Although set in the same universe, Vinge tackles a different aspect of a reality where the majority of mankind is trapped in a scientific and technological cage in a partitioned galaxy. The book only obliquely explores the reality of a species spread and separated across thousands of light years with only fraction of light speed travel to hand (though much more than in the previous book) - instead the primary focus is on interaction with ...more
4.5 stars.

This probably isn't a book that I'll reread over and over again, but it definitely held my attention. In fact, I may have to reread it just because I was so impatient to get to the next page and skip ahead. This is a prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, and I'd say you should read A Fire Upon the Deep first, since that's part of what made this book such a page turner for me. A Fire Upon the Deep gives you some information about events in A Deepness in the Sky, but due to the sheer amount o
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Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon The Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999) and Rainbows End (2006), his Hugo Award-winning novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for his 1993 e ...more
More about Vernor Vinge...

Other Books in the Series

Zones of Thought (3 books)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought, #1)
  • The Children of the Sky  (Zones of Thought, #3)

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“Technical people don't make good slaves. Without their wholehearted cooperation, things fall apart.” 9 likes
“On this small world, there will be no more real darkness. But there will always be the Dark. Go out tonight, Lady Pedure. Look up. We are surrounded by the Dark and always will be. And just as our Dark ends with the passage of time in a New Sun, so the greater Dark ends at the shores of a million million stars. Think! If our sun's cycle was once less than a year, then even earlier our sun might have been middling bright all the time. I have students who are sure most of the stars are just like our sun, only much much younger, and many with worlds like ours. You want a deepness that endures, a deepness that Spiderkind can depend on? Pedure, there is a deepness in the sky, and it extends forever.” 7 likes
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