After quite some time I finally dared to look outside of my usual Star Trek and Star Wars books again and discovered A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge.
The plot takes place in a very distant future (thousands of years). Earth is no longer all that important and a big part of humankind consists now of traders that make their living by finding new customers on other worlds. But in all these years, humankind has never met an advanced non-human civilization.
The book now tells the story of an expedition undertaken by two human civilizations. Both of them knowing not all that much of each other but still ready to battle.
So before I spoil to much of the plot, my favorite highlight of the book is the way in which the non-human species - I guess I can say that much: they are spiders - are described and how their stories are told. Everything is describes as if they were humans and in the end you will find out … nope, no spoilers. The book was just to good for spoilers :D
Just to give you the general idea: The book has everything from espionage, over things like first-contact situations, brainwashing, love, some general tech (so nothing you’d need a PhD in another to understand ;-) ), sociology, problems of translations. You learn some of the traditions of the spiders, you also learn at least some aspects of how humankind became what it was back then.
Another great aspect about this book is just the enormous time scale. Humankind has never managed to travel faster than light (compared to the popular franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars) so going from one system to another takes a very long time. To deal with this, humans are using the coldsleep idea (basically stasis). This comes in quite handy here since the spiders’ world cycles a quite strange sun which makes their world inhabitable every few hundred years and the humans just arrive in one of these times (which also lasts for quite some time).
If I had to come up with one thing I don’t like about this book it’s … well, it had more than 700 pages. It kept me from reading anything else for ages … Bad book!!! ;-)
I guess Vernor Vinge got the Hugo Award for “Best Novel” in 2000 for this book for a reason. I can absolutely recommend this book :D
For more information about this book, checkout its page on tor-forge.com. You will notice there, that it’s actually the 2nd volume of a 3-volume series. I didn’t have any problem keeping up with the story without reading the first book so I guess reading the first book before isn’t a requirement :-) But after reading this book I ordered the first one which I’m reading right now, and I also can’t wait for the 3rd volume. And I guess I will also get the “Peace War” series by Vinge ;-)