Saturday, February 02, 2013

Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon the Deep

I can't recall reading any science fiction since I read Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age and then Snow Crash.

Both those books are huge and incredibly rich in detail, great characters, and mind-stretching ideas. 

Really good science fiction - like Stephenson's - is just good literature.  I found though that much science fiction is good in one area - new worlds, new tech, different takes on human life, good story line -  or another, but often just one area and the characters are often flat.  Women now have much stronger roles than they used to, but character development is often secondary.  Of course, all of this is based more on past reading of science fiction, so I don't read much these days.  Things could have changed a lot.  I know, for example, that strong women characters play a much bigger role in science fiction today than in the past.  I stopped reading it except by strong recommendation, since I couldn't keep track of what was really good.

My daughter gave me this one to read when I was looking for a book in her place.   I've been reading large chunks of pages and then having to put it down so I can do other things.  It's not even close to Stephenson, but it offers some interesting ideas - like the packs which live live in small clusters of individuals that share each others' minds.  It was published in 1992 and every chapter seems to have one or two newsgroup posts.  I read newsgroups in 1992, so that means he was using a technology of the period, not really pushing it out into the future.  Though the importance of data in the economy is a central theme of the book, which is still something most of us haven't considered to the level that he takes it.  Much of the time I'm not completely sure what is happening, though I know enough to be able to follow along.  I don't really knowwhat the title means, but maybe it will become clear by the end.  Though I'm over 500 pages into the book.  So far, the story plot has been fairly predictable, but, again, the book isn't finished.  If there are surprises at the very end, I'll add to this post. 

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