Children of the Sky and Snuff

Two of my favorite SF novels are _A Fire Upon the Deep_ and _A Deepness in the Sky_, by Vernor Vinge. So when I heard several months ago that there was a sequel to the first being released this month, I felt both excitement and deep trepidation.

My experience of the book, _Children of the Sky_, falls somewhere in the middle.

In a way, I guess you could say the scope of all three books has been narrowing–[_A Fire Upon the Deep_] being a no-holds-barred Space Opera, _A Deepness in the Sky_ being a first-contact novel, while _Children of the Sky_ is a political thriller that happens to have aliens. It does a good job at what it is, but I found myself missing the sense of wonder that the first two books provoke in me even after numerous readings.

I enjoyed it enough that it’s not going to go into the pile to be donated to the library–and these days I’m getting pretty darn ruthless about putting stuff in that pile–but I suspect that if I went out and bought a new copy of _A Fire Upon the Deep_ (which I kinda need–the old one’s getting pretty worn), in 10 years, it will probably show more evidence of use.

Before that, though, I read _Snuff_, Terry Pratchett’s latest.

I am sad to say that this is the first Discworld novel in the last 15 years that I haven’t wanted to re-read almost immediately. Like _Children of the Sky_, I don’t intend to get rid of it, but I feel like it’s relying overmuch on my love of the characters to make up for a plot that seems a little lacking in originality–it feels a little like the bastard child of _The Fifth Elephant_, _Thud!_ and _Unseen Academicals_, and I think the result is a little tepid.

In my heart of hearts, though, I know some of my dissatisfaction stems from the fact that I realize that this book or the next book or the one after that is likely to be his last, and I want one last Granny Weatherwax novel. For me, she and Sam Vimes are the emotional core of his cast of characters–both people who are so desperately suspicious of themselves that being good often seems to make them angry–but she hasn’t been center-stage since _Carpe Jugulum_ in ’98, and I have that childish desire to see her again.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.

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