D.L. Morrese's Reviews > The Children of the Sky

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
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Feb 06, 2012

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Read in February, 2012

I first heard of Vernor Vinge when I saw him at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando in 2011. This is the second of his books I’ve found at the library and read. The first was Rainbow’s End.
The Children of the Sky is the third book in his ‘Zones of Thought Series.’ As I did not (yet) read the first two, this was my first exposure to this world. Fortunately, enough backstory is provided to develop the characters and explain how humans arrived on this planet.
What I liked most:
- This is a character driven story of political power and manipulation. The advanced tech from the wrecked human starship, much of which does not work, does not dominate the story and neither does the limited psychic ability of the native sentient species.
- The story has an overall positive mood, and you can see the beginnings of an industrial age if not a philosophical enlightenment emerging. These provide promise that the future will be a better one. The ending is a setup for a sequel, not quite a cliffhanger, but with enough unresolved issues to provide plenty of material for another story to explore how well this promise is achieved.
- The fictional world of the “Tines” is very imaginative. However...
What I liked least:
- Back to the Tines. I felt I was being asked to suspend too much disbelief to imagine that a species without hands (or the equivalent), and which has difficulty even approaching one another physically, could develop what amounts to an early industrial age technology.
- I like that this is a ‘character based’ story, but the characters did not evoke much empathy for me. We see some of their inner turmoil, especially with Ravana, but not enough to make me care much about what happens to her.
- The principle villain in this is simply evil. There is no explanation for why or what he is trying to achieve other than personal power. Still, there is enough here for the reader to loath him by the end of the book, but his ultimate and well-deserved demise happens almost between scenes.
- A good deal could have been left out, which may have improved the pace without sacrificing the plot. I suppose much of this can be attributed to editing. Authors sacrifice a lot when they choose to go through a traditional publisher and they should expect to receive value in return. In this case, a little rewriting, tightening the prose, and even catching a few grammar and punctuation errors would have done a lot to improve the book.

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