The sequel to Vinge's Hugo Award–winning A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) undergoes a jarring but effective change in scope. On a distant planet, 10 years after creating a technology-crippling "slow zone" to defeat the encroaching Blight, Ravna Bergsndot and the surviving cryo-frozen Children attempt to rebuild a civilization with the help of the telepathic, doglike Tines. Their efforts are stymied by hostile Tines and humans skeptical of the Blight's menace. Vinge has brilliantly shifted gears, offering a postsingularity novel in which the singularity has been destroyed and the formerly advanced humans struggle to cope. Vinge throws in political intrigue and even a road trip (complete with characters going incognito as circus performers), and the resulting low-tech tale is a sharply crafted masterpiece. Fans should forgive the shift in subgenre and lack of recap, but will likely chafe at the frustrating ending, which makes it clear that this is the middle book in a trilogy. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2011 Release date: 10/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.