Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Deepness in the Sky

This was a pretty heavy duty book. A classic science-fiction book, with not two, but three different cultures clashing. You have the deep space trader group, a group who uses mental slavery to achieve the types of analysis that computer programmers only dream about, and a newly industrialized planet of spider-type aliens.

It took me a while to get into it, I've not really been in the mood to read something so heavy, so I would read a few pagers while I ate breakfast or supervised piano lessons. Then I began to be more interested in the story and stayed up late to finish it.

One of the best parts of the book was the extrapolation from current abilities. Nothing in the book depended on something fantastically new. No faster than light, no anti gravity, no force fields and all that stuff, just cryogenic suspension to get through the thousands of years it would take to travel the stars.

The author is a computer science professor, so a lot of the technology depended on computers, and he had something I've never seen before, a programmer/archaeologist. Even today much of what programmers do is built on what has been done before, subroutines and all that. So imagine thousands of years of built up subroutines. I know what happens to my computer in just a couple of years, imagine thousands of years of different programs, all for different things, but none of it cleared away, just used to make the "next generation" programs run better.

This is why I like science fiction, the playing with ideas, carrying them further and further. This book also had the common theme of civilization collapse. I don't know that it is plausible. Once you get the degree of literacy we have now, how could all that be lost? I think it would be possible to regress some, but completely? Maybe I am not pessimistic enough.

A Deepness in the Sky. Vernor Vinge. Tor. 2000

1 comment:

jendoop said...

All it would take is a loss of electricity and we'd be a mess. Think more darkly will ya? :)