Jennifer's Reviews > A Deepness in the Sky

A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
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Dec 01, 2008

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Read in December, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I had a little trouble getting into this book the first time, put it down and tried again a few months later. The main problem, initially, was that I couldn't figure out how the two main story lines were related...and got frustated with the switching. The second time through, it became obvious that the "Sherkaner Underhill" character and his people were the spider aliens that the two human cultures were travelling to make contact with, though you really can't tell, from the narrative, that they aren't humans. I think this is intentional, actually, for reasons that become clear near the end of the book.

Vingt does something very difficult here...creating an entirely alien, non-human civilization on the page. His two human cultures are quite good, too: the trading, conniving Qeng Ho, and the far more dangerous totalitarian Emergents. The two sides have joined forces to visit the OnOff star, a bizarre solar system that alternates 40 years of warm "on" time, when its sole planet becomes inhabitable, with 200 years of dark "off" time when even the atmosphere freezes and precipitates out of the sky. The spider people have adapted to their environment by hibernating deep in the earth. (It is their sleeping holes or "deepnesses" that give the book its title.) The two human cultures arrive together and fight almost immediately, crippling their ships and leaving the Emergents in charge. Without the resources to repair their equipment, they must wait for the spider people to develop technology so that they can go home.

I'm not going to give away the ending, but the Emergents have a technology called "Focus" which makes human beings into something like computers, completely focused on their work, but almost unaware of anything outside it. It's a form of slavery, very interesting concept...

Anyway, I never would have read this book, or even known about it, except for a GoodReads recommendation, so score one for the network.
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message 1: by j (new)

j this book is a pseudo-prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep. i highly recommend it; i read that one first and will be following up with "deepness," but they can supposedly be read in any order.

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