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Book Pick
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January 15
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Illustrated Corner
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Updated Convention Listings and
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The Children of the Sky
by Vernor Vinge
Tor, $25.99, 444pp
Release Date: October 11, 2011

This is a very-long-awaited sequel to Vinge’s “A Fire Upon the Deep” ( reviewed here ) and it is just as awesome as its predecessor. Please see the review of “A Fire Upon the Deep” in our Voices From the Past.

“A Fire…” was an epic story that traversed the universe, with mind-boggling ideas and concepts. This story is no second cousin; it is just as amazing, interesting and satisfying. When we last saw our heroes, they were stranded on a primitive planet with very strange, wonderful and vicious aliens…

The lost children, Johanna and Jefri, have grown. They and Ravna have awakened the other Children. They all live under the somewhat benevolent rule of Woodcarver. The perverted Steel had been all but killed; although, as it turns out, not completely. The evil Vendacious was exiled and is out causing more trouble. The maybe-evil, maybe-perverted Flenser continues to try and convince Woodcarver of his better intentions. Johanna has finally found love with one of the other Children. Jefri and Amdi, his Best Friend from the natives, have begun questioning all that Ravna tried to teach them about the coming crisis. Ravna is obsessed with improving the natives’ technology and lifting them up just as quickly as possible. Without advanced technology, they won’t stand a chance when the Blighter Fleet sent by the monster that the Children’s parents released finally arrives.

The problem is that many of the Children deny Ravna’s story. After all, they were just young children and unaware of the events around them or why their parents sent them away in cryogenic sleep. They have only Ravna’s story that a monster is pursuing them and it is difficult for them to believe their parents culpability in the universe-wide catastrophe that Ravna says they unleashed. And that’s when everything unravels. Ravna is, for all intents, deposed and loses access to the only thing close to high tech on the planet – her spaceship. Woodcarver is besieged by a new threat and some old ones. Johanna is lost in the wilderness and faces the most terrifying threat on the whole planet…alone. What she discovers may save them all. Ravna finds an old friend. And the entire culture of the Tines’ world is changing rapidly and in ways that no one could have predicted.

Oh, my gosh and goodness! This is a wonderful story. The writing is, of course, absolutely top-notch. This is professional writing at its best. The plot is amazing – substantial, well-structured, and tells an epically satisfying SF tale. No fantasy lurking in dark corners, thank the gods. And, Thank You, Mr. Vinge…but please don’t wait another 20 years to conclude this astonishing tale. ~~ Catherine Book

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