book-reviews

A Deepness in the Sky

by Vernor Vinge

Rating: ★★★★

I was a little wary of this for a while. The writing is noticeably less polished than in A Fire Upon the Deep, and I was skeptical of the angle Vinge took here, pursuing Pham Nuwen's backstory in the Slowness rather than the universe-spanning drama of the Beyond. On the latter count at least, Vinge eventually won me over. This is a very different story, but still good sci-fi.

The book is quite long, but certainly doesn't feel it, with a natural pacing that smooths over the many twists and the decades-long timeframe without difficulty. The plotting and counterplotting of the various actors in the tense scheming was played just right, and the humanistic handling of the Emergents and Spiders both gives the novel a moral heart beneath all the brain-tweaking, strange stars and antigravity mined by spiders from the heart of a diamond world.

My complaint from A Fire Upon the Deep still stands here, though. For some reason, the copy-editing on my version is terrible, with what look like OCR errors introducing weird scattershot punctuation, confusions of 'how' for 'now', and bizarre references to 'A1' instead of 'AI'. I don't understand how such a well-loved text can be treated with such disrespect.