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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

A Deepness in the Sky

A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge 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 [b:A Fire Upon the Deep|77711|A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought, #1)|Vernor Vinge|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333915005s/77711.jpg|1253374], 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 list but it is still an indispensable read all the same. This is a book that I imagine would be great all the way through on the second read because there would be no need to figure out the meaning of the setting of the book and the numerous characters' motivations. Initially I just could not understand Vinge's choices. Why did he anthropomorphise the aliens? Why do spidery aliens have names like Underhill, Brent, and Smith? Why not call them Zark or Vygphm or something more alienesque? The author really threw me for loop for the first quarter of the book, I thought may be he is too lazy to think up weird alien names, silly bast that I am.

I won't reveal the reason for Vinge's strange anthropomorphism, but it all makes perfect sense as you read on, and read on you must. My favorite "sf notion" from this book is Focus, a more elaborate type of mind control with no element of hypnotism. A Focused person is sort of ultra fixated on the single task they programmed to do, everything else eating, bowel movements and grooming become completely irrelevant.

Part of the book is a hoary sf trope of alien invasion turned on its head, in that humans are the invading aliens and the Spider race are the invadees. This leads to a humdinger of a climax and an Uplifting ending!

Vinge's gift for characterization is again evident here though, with lovable aliens, eccentrics and a mustache twirling Machiavellian archvillain (OK, no mustache!) called Nau. This seems to be something of a Vinge trope as Nau is cut from the exact same cloth as the villain of A Fire Upon the Deep Mr. Steel. The character Pham Nuwen is the only one from A Fire Upon the Deep, though his role is much larger here and he is not quite the same character.

I did get lost in some scientific details but most of them do become self explanatory as you read on. However, if you want some help with ramscoop, localizer and podmaster you may want to check out this Reddit thread.

I would rate this as a 4.5 stars book as I personally find it harder to "engage" with than the previous book. To engage is not merely to understand what is going on but to feel involved in the proceeding, to empathize with the characters, and generally to immerse in the book as an experience rather words printed on a book. It is for me the single most wonderful thing about reading fiction. Any way, from the half way point onward this book is very involving and you may need a deFocus treatment afterward.