Tuesday, May 10, 2011

vernor vinge

if you don't know Vernor Vinge I can only say you're missing out. He's one of my favorite science fiction writers. The first book I read of his was A Fire Upon The Deep, which won the Hugo Award.

In this novel, faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unguessable, godlike "Powers." When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilizations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.

Serious complications follow (huge inderstatement. Vernor Vinge does not write a simple story. There are multiple, fascinating threads). One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the doglike aliens (but don't let that fool you, no one has ever done this sort of thing better.). Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.

Vinge's climax is suitably mindboggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness. Pham Nuwen also appears in the nifty prequel set 30,000 years earlier, A Deepness in the Sky.*

No, this is not for the faint of heart. This is a complicated told expertly by a master so you will have to pay attention. But aren't those the best books?

*from Amazon's review


  1. Interesting. I don't typically read science fiction, which is probably why I haven't heard of this guy. This book sounds like an interesitng premise, though.

  2. Wow. Sounds good! And what a great name.(And I like the new banner picture).

  3. I had to re-read this review a few times to get my head round the complex plot! WOW!!!! Thank you so much for the intro to this author and book series!! So on my TBR list!! Take care

  4. Oooh, I haven't read Sci-fi since sneaking my brother's Tom Swift books in middle school - and I loved those. I should check this writer out!

  5. He's really very good. Right up there with Asimov and Heinlen.

  6. I was very thankful you told me about this writer and while I am not a big sci-fi reader I am a fan of his amazing writing!

    I second this post!

  7. I read this quite a few years ago. Not many books have new concepts in science fiction and this book actually had two, which is impressive.


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