Murder by old age

Marooned in Realtime
Vernor Vinge

This is a sequel to Vinge’s The Peace War, and although I enjoyed it much more than The Peace War I credit some of that enjoyment to having the richness of this particular universe spelled out with the earlier book.

There were a number of elements here which made me curious about the potential connection between the Peace War/Marooned universe and the universe shared byA Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon The Deep. There’s just some speculation about this, but I found a couple of hints that might link them together, and the implications are a bit staggering, as they would place the rise of the Qeng Ho empire literally tens of millions of years into the future. The rise of very large and relatively intelligent spiders several megayears into Earth’s future and the bleak prospects for sustained civilization on Earth after much of the population goes exploring gives rise to suspicions about the nature of the planet circling the On/Off star in Deepness.

Vinge’s characters in Marooned were richer and more nuanced than those in Peace War. While the idea of superimposing a murder-mystery over a «hard» sci-fi background may seem a bit hackneyed, Vinge addresses the irony of the situation the characters have encountered and brings up some vital questions about the nature and necessity of government. What purpose can a policeman serve in a world after governments have ceased to exist? It’s almost sweet how well Vinge establishes that the investigation of the death is necessary both from practical and personal standpoints.

As usual, Vinge takes very little for granted and kept me engaged through the novel. It’s hard for any book to rise to the level he set in Deepness, but damned if this guy doesn’t write a good novel.

Rumor mill has it that Vinge’s next novel will be a direct sequel to Deepness. I’m waiting with bated breath.

(It’s the middle of October and I’ve only gotten through sixteen books…. I may have to start reading short and easy books in order to get through another thirty-four in the next ten weeks!)

Reading interval: 
Tuesday, 20 June 2006 to Wednesday, 18 October 2006