The blabber
(Vernor Vinge, 1988)

This is a novella of about 30,000 words, not a novel; it was written to introduce the ideas that Vinge later used in A fire upon the deep.

As fiction, it's a good, readable story about a likeable, ordinary-seeming university student with an unusual pet; both of whom turn out to have an extraordinary background and destiny.

Warning: leave this page now if you haven't read the story and want to be surprised by it.

The main ideas Vinge introduces are:

I find the group personalities more interesting than the galactic zones, which are perhaps a useful fictional device but don't strike me as very plausible.

This is one of my favourite Vinge stories, and I always enjoy reading it, but it occurred to me just recently that it seems to have a couple of serious flaws.

Written in October 2008