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Dear Vernor Vinge (A Fire Upon the Deep)

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Dear Vernor,

This year I’m reading several Hugo and Nebula winners, among others, as I build a baseline of the trajectory of science fiction and fantasy through the 1900s and early 2000s.

I highly enjoyed the trip through the the Beyond, the Slow Zone, and the Unthinking Depths as time ticked down to the blight’s arrival.

This sci-fi action/western (you could say space opera) offers up and delivers on many promises across multiple story arcs, ranging from founding myth mystery, alien political intrigue and survival, remorse and redemption, and finding one’s place in a vast galactic civilization.

I was particularly intrigued by the the multiple consciousnesses (or part-based consciousness) of the lupine alien race. I liked the approach to constituting (or reconstituting) their packs or groups of 2 or more. Their sound-based thinking was pretty cool, too.

You managed to give epic scale through the lenses of characters with wants and needs.

Your central narrative device of long range communications pings–where a planet or ship receives updates from the galaxy at large–serve to advance the plot while adding a nice touch of wordbuilding. These epistolary net-based communication pings were kept from being tedious through the subtly-embedded humor (“This communication is quite expensive” and similar).

The larger idea of races rising from humble beginnings to prominence and transcendance was also handled well and well imagined.

For the lupine race, the sonic system leads to (re)constituting of packs, and concsiousnesses. In conversation with my brother, he made me remember how the Tines reflect on human hands as devilishly tricky” because it takes several dogs at once to operate complex tools.

My travels through the Beyond, the Slow Zone, and the Unthinking Depths made me consider how science fiction can (and should) continue to stretch our ability to imagine within the consensus reality but also to imagine more distinctly alterations to this consensus reality. By engaging our individual internal realities, we might affect change on the consensus reality we share.

All in all, I’m excited to read more of your work.

Best -Erik

Posted on October 13, 2017 • Source