In this prequel to his Hugo Award-winning space opera, A Fire upon the Deep (1992), Vinge takes us to an era some thousands of years in our future, when humanity has just begun its exploration of intergalactic space and has as yet no inkling of the complex physics that rules the galaxy. Although human beings have settled on dozens of worlds and created societies ancient enough to have achieved greatness and collapse several times over, only the most limited traces have been found of alien cultures. Now, however, the Qeng Ho, a band of human interstellar traders, have discovered the Spiders, an alien race poised to enter its own space age. Unfortunately, the Qeng Ho must compete with another, less beneficent spacefaring human culture, the Emergents, who are bent on conquest rather than trade. The Spiders have just come out of a two-century-long suspended animation made necessary by the fluctuations of their erratic sun. Their culture is entering a period of explosive growth that could end in tragedy, due in part to a dangerous nuclear arms race and in part to the Emergents' desire to enslave them. Vinge, a professor of mathematics and computer science (at San Diego State), is among the very best of the current crop of hard SF writers, producing work that is not only fast-paced and intellectually challenging, but also stylishly written and centered on carefully drawn characters. This long, action-packed novel should fully engage any SF reader's sense of wonder, and likely will win the author his sixth Hugo nomination. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999 Release date: 02/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 757 pages - 978-1-85798-851-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-17453-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 774 pages - 978-0-8125-3635-5
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