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.
I’m still a fan.
Of the three Vinge novels I’ve read, I think this is my third favorite, which of course sounds as though it was disappointing. It was not. With intriguing ideas, well-thought-out scenarios, multidimensional characters and keen pacing, I’d recommend The Peace War to anyone I liked.
Yet, some of the themes were certainly familiar, the characters were perhaps not all as fleshed out as they could have been, and nowhere did the clever ideas make my mind reel from forced paradigm shift the way that A Fire Upon The Deep or A Deepness in The Sky did.
I think I’ve written before that Vernor Vinge has restored my love for science fiction. For years I’d been mourning the genre and then came across A Fire Upon The Deep, which surprised me by not talking down to me. As much as sci-fi writers are wont to make assumptions about the readers’ knowledge of technology and science, rarely do they break out and assume the ability to read and infer the way perhaps a literature geek who never found the computer lab might. Vinge is a damn good writer.
I tried to describe what I liked about this book by telling my father, «it’s confusing.» I’m not sure that I made any sense then, but this is what scifi should be. Vinge presents us with alien races and theories of galactic organization almost entirely without exposition. There’s no «The Kzinti were a razor-toothed warrior race resembling eight-foot tall cats» or anything like that. One alien race the reader is introduced to entirely through first-person accounts from the aliens’ perspective.
Book #3 of my 50bookchallenge: Frank Herbert’s Whipping Star. I’m a fan of Frank Herbert’s writing and have been for as long as I can remember. Even when he hasn’t written «high-concept» sci-fi, he’s still usually succeeded in writing smart, highly readable pulp. Whipping Star is one of these.