This hefty novel returns to the Universe of Vernor Vinge's 1973 Hugo win ner A Fire Upon the Deep
--but 30,000 years earlier. It has the same sense of epic vastness despite happening mostly in one isolated solar system. Here there's a world of intelligent spider- creatures who traditionally hibernate through the "Deepest Darkness" of their strange variable sun's long "off" periods, when even the atmosphere freezes. Now science offers them an alternative. Meanwhile, attracted by spider radio transmissions, two human starfleets come exploring: merchants hoping for customers, and tyrants who want slaves. Their inevitable clash leaves only crippled remnants of both fleets, with power in the wrong hands, leading to a long wait in space until the spiders develop exploitable technology. Over the years Vinge builds compelling tension through multiple story lines and characters. In the sky, hopes of rebellion against tyranny continue despite soothing lies, brutal repression and a mental bondage that can convert people into literal tools. Down below, the engagingly sympathetic spiders have their own problems. In flashback, we see the grandiose ideals and ultimate betrayal of the merchant culture's founder, now among the human contingent and pretending to be a senile buffoon while plotting, plotting. Major revelations, ironies and payoffs follow. A powerful story in the grandest SF tradition. -- David Langford
"Huge, intricate, and ingenious, with superbly realized aliens: a chilling spellbinding dramatization of the horrors of slavery and mind control."--"Kirkus Reviews "(pointer review) "A feast of imagination. As always, Vinge satisfies with richly imagined worlds and a full-flavored story."--Greg Bear "Wonderfully engaging!"--"Cleveland Plain Dealer"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.