Taking place only 20 years in the future, this book is more reminiscent of his earlier cyberpunk short stories than the further flung novels.
The modes...moreTaking place only 20 years in the future, this book is more reminiscent of his earlier cyberpunk short stories than the further flung novels.
The modest length of this book was nice- A Fire Upon The Deep and the sequel were great but each should have been a few hundred pages shorter.
Vinge makes a self-deprecating reference to his 'Zones of Thought' books midway through. Humorous but 4th-wall-breaking also: do we really need to be reminded that every work of present day or future fiction takes place in an alternate reality in which the book itself was never written?(less)
Addresses the age-old problem of how to most profitably re-invent wheels in parallel Earths that did not invent the wheel (or equivalently, re-inventi...moreAddresses the age-old problem of how to most profitably re-invent wheels in parallel Earths that did not invent the wheel (or equivalently, re-inventing them via time travel before they were naturally invented).(less)
Not quite as far into the future as Rainbow's End (maybe 2015-2020 instead of 2025) and a lot more conservative in predicting technological advance- b...moreNot quite as far into the future as Rainbow's End (maybe 2015-2020 instead of 2025) and a lot more conservative in predicting technological advance- but more believable also. Vinge's world seemed to have 100% replacement of all artifacts and infrastructure, but this could be attributed to selectiveness- everything that hasn't changed isn't worth mentioning. The two novels both have story lines involving ever increasing dangers due to more powerful tools in the hands of smaller and smaller groups of belligerents, and the the big bad technologies used by the villains in both novels are in roughly the same category of bioweapon.
The idea of alphabet-soup meltdown is prominent here, where every disaster creates one or more new secretive federal agencies that hides information from the others and have differing agendas and overlapping jurisdictions. It is sort of dealt with in this book, but it seems that if almost every disaster or major intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor is a result of the lack of information sharing among government agencies, why should we be aggressively interrogating foreigners or engaging in whole-sale surveillance of Americans when most of the information is already in the hands of an uncooperative federal agency? If you are for instance an agent in the FBI and the CIA isn't giving necessary information, then wiretapping, hacking, and torture shouldn't be out of the question if it means saving the lives of innocents. Or maybe that is already going on.
I'm slightly in spoiler territory here, but I'm not quite sure what the utility of putting kinetic energy weapons into orbit is (as compared to ballistic)- if they are in orbit, they need to be de-orbited, which is a waste of energy, and the timing of the de-orbiting would have to be precisely timed. Also, once in orbit the available targets would be constrained. (less)