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A Deepness in the Sky

(Zones of Thought #2)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  26,564 ratings  ·  866 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 March 1999)
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Steven This isn't a sequel and is barely a prequel. It is very much a separate story. There is exactly one character in common, Pham, and his actions and…moreThis isn't a sequel and is barely a prequel. It is very much a separate story. There is exactly one character in common, Pham, and his actions and relationships in this book have no bearing on the first book. The third book is a direct sequel to the first.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,564 ratings  ·  866 reviews

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Jun 02, 2008 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
Nov 10, 2011 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
A Deepness in the Sky: Might have been interesting at half the length
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
A Fire Upon the Deep was a big success for Vernor Vinge, winning the 1993 Hugo Award. Seven years later, he followed up with A Deepness in the Sky, set 20,000 years earlier in the same universe, and this captured the 2000 Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Award. I came to both books with high expectations and was eager for a big-canvas space opera filled with mind-boggling technologies, exot
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love science fiction stories that incorporate novel concepts, and this one introduces several intriguing concepts. First, there is the variable sun that goes through a long on-off cycle. Second, there are the alien creatures living on a planet in the sun's system that have evolved to live through this cycle. They are called "spiders" because they are short and have multiple limbs. Then there are the Qeng Ho, a loosely organized human civilization whose culture is based on interstellar trading ...more
Nov 20, 2011 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
Jan 02, 2012 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
mark monday
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-modern
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 with the other half, and 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.
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
Maria Dobos
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cu mii de ani înainte ca omenirea să descopere existența Zonelor Gânditoare, Qeng Ho, o organizație interplanetară a comercianților, a recepționat o serie de semnale ce ar indica prezența unei specii inteligente în apropierea straniei Stelei Fluctuante. Entuziasmul posibilității stabilirii unui contact cu o specie necunoscută le înflăcărează imaginația comercianților și pe cea a emergenților (de-a lungul a opt mii de ani de călătorii prin spațiu, oamenii au întâlnit doar alte două civilizații in ...more
Megan Baxter
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had, it must be admitted, a hard time getting into this one. I'd pick it up and read a bit, but not make much real headway. Partly it's because other books that people had on hold at the library came in, or I needed to blast something through to be ready for my book club. These external factors, however, weren't all of it. Once I finally did get into the book, I really enjoyed it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can re
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)
Apr 21, 2010 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
Mar 10, 2012 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
Andrew Leon
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Wow, it's been a whole year since I reviewed A Fire Upon the Deep. If you remember back to that book, I said I was only going to read this one if it was better, and it was better, better enough that I wanted to know what happened even though I had some major issues with the book going in. And this one was slow, too, but not quite as slow as Fire. But let's just cut to it...

The first major issue with this book is that it's barely related to the first book in this "trilogy." Vaguely. Like, there's
Jul 22, 2012 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
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's been thousands of years since humanity has spread to the stars. There is no galactic empire, the physics of star travel don't really allow for that, but there are hundreds of worlds, some of which have fallen into barbarism and recreated their civilization several times over. But rarely has there been something truly new... until now. Two of these distantly separated branches of humanity reunite at an astrological anomaly, chasing radio signals that are truly alien... one is the Qeng Ho, an ...more
Geoffrey Dow
Sep 21, 2011 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
Jan 13, 2009 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
Dec 01, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A beautiful portrait of pragmatism vs idealism, colonialism and collaboration, surveillance culture vs everything, the possibility of deep translation, the beauty and gaucheness of trade, and the ultimate fate of civilisations.
Programming went back to the beginning of time. It was a little like the midden out back of his father's castle… There were programs here written five thousand years ago, before Humankind ever left Earth. The wonder of it — the horror of it… down at the very bottom of it
Peter Tillman
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book, that I don't love quite as much as "A Fire Upon the Deep" -- but it's still pretty amazing. The review to read is Jo Walton's. I don't love it quite as much as she does, but I *love* her review:
"One of the things SF can do is show you characters with different mindsets. Anyone can write a character whose dreams have failed. Vinge’s writing people from whole societies whose dreams have failed over millennia. And yet, this is a ch
Vivone Os
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f-h
Neizmjerno sam uživala čitajući ovu knjigu. Prava je poslastica, od prve pa sve do zadnje stranice. Kakva dobra ideja! Koja kompleksna zanimljiva savršeno ispričana priča! Odlični likovi! Totalno sam navijala za pozitivce, bila tužna zbog njih, radovala se njihovim pobjedama. I paukoliki likovi koji bi mi se u biti nekako gadili (zato što su paukoliki, jel!) osmišljeni su s toliko ljudskosti da ih čovjek jednostavno ne može ne zavoljeti. :) Ma joj, pet zvjezdica nije dovoljno za nju, zaslužila j ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
“So High, So Low, So Many Things to Know” 🚀🌌
The premise for this book is pretty spectacular: "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, both groups must wait at the aliens' very doorstep for their strange star to
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
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, sci-fi
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
David B
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
There is much to like about this book, the story of delegations from two seperate human cultures, one based on trade and the other on slavery, whose conflict leaves them marooned near the planet of the Spiders. In order to justify their trip and make their return home possible, they must wait for the alien culture below to attain a certain level of technology. There are interesting speculations about the nature of interstellar and planetary societies and imaginative extrapolations on technology. ...more
Seth Heasley
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Took me a while to get through this one, but it was never because I was bored. The prose is good, the characters are interesting, and there's a ton of great science fiction here. I did have some trouble keeping track of characters for the first couple of hundred pages (it's a long one), but that didn't hamper my enjoyment of it.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The concept behind the book was great, the characters were all developed well but the execution of the story itself flowed like mud through a sieve. The jumping back and forth, in the beginning, between the two races was fine. The merging of the two stories helped give you a sense of being and perspective that these were two separate cultures coming together. Nevertheless, Vinge has a bad habit of wanting to develop his character's history too much and continually dives into story-in-itself flas ...more
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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

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)
“Technical people don't make good slaves. Without their wholehearted cooperation, things fall apart.” 11 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.” 10 likes
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