Re: A Fire Upon the Deep ending

The Low Golden Willow (
Mon, 26 May 1997 13:56:40 -0700 (PDT)

Anton Sherwood wrote:
} One thing we do know (from "The Blabber") is that Ravna is destined
} to return to the Beyond, somehow.

No we don't. Even the "The Blabber" is in the same universe "Ravna"
could easily be a descendant of the original population with the same
name. The name of the founding mother might well be popular. And at
any rate, I've generally figured that the short story was a prototype
for the universe, and shouldn't be shoehorned in. I've tried, and it
doesn't fit very well.

On May 25, 2:26pm, Hal Finney wrote:


} and the usenet-style galactic newsgroup postings. I didn't really
} care for the parts about the dog packs and their medieval plotting.
} So it will be interesting to see what direction he goes with the new book.

I was fascinated by the aliens. But from what I've heard what Vinge is
(was?) working on was a Qeng Ho prequel. Last I've heard he was mulling
doing a real sequel. I'm not sure which "Deepness in the Sky" refers

} One thing I didn't like about the ending to AFUTD is that it seemed so
} destructive. Readers will recall that the Countermeasure, activated by

I think that was rather part of the point. When men fight anthills get
squashed, not to mention ants (who die more from the disruption of the
hill.) When gods fight...

I'd thought the effects of Countermeasure were pretty clear, though. A
Slow tentacle stretched up to the Low Transcend, engulfing the Blight,
nearby Powers, and the intervening Beyond. The final posting made it
clear that relative to the entire galaxy the event wasn't that big. Lots
of people suffered, but most weren't even affected.

} Truly this is burning down the village in order to save it.

More like _Ringworld Engineers_; a small fraction die to save the whole.
But the whole is so big the death of the fraction beggars the
imagination. Unchecked the Blight might well have spread around the
galaxy to consume the whole High Beyond and Low Transcend (since it
seemed fairly good at killing off Powers) and who knows what after that.

I'd never worried about checking that the numbers added up. I'd
definitely never thought about using language translation paths as a
metric of distance. Kudos to you, Hal.

} any earlier instance of the Blight. My guess is that in fact the previous
} time the Blight was activated, its destruction required a far more
} powerful defense. Perhaps it spread much faster before a Countermeasure


} What this theory suggests then is that at some point in the past, the
} Slow Zone was extended into the Transcend on a nearly galaxy-wide basis
} in order to destroy a Blight which had conquered the galaxy, controlled

Perhaps. My take on the book, and the Skroderider legends, has been
that the natural state of the universe corresponds to what I'll call the
High Transcend, and that the entire system of the Zones is an artifact,
partly to deal with the Blight, and partly to make sure that budding
civlizations were protected in the future. Beyond and Slow Zone as
nurseries. This exaplains why the Blight was so good at murdering
Powers -- its previous incarnation had been in the High Transcend, so
while the current one wasn't running at full capacity it had access to
algorithms and whatnot that the Low Powers didn't, in much the same way
that skrodes couldn't be designed, tinkered with, or understood, by
Beyond intelligences.

I had the impression, from one brief mention of Andromeda(?) that the
Zonal pattern was in other galaxies as well, which would help the belief
that it was natural. So 5 billion years ago Powers arose, one or more
were nasty (the Blight may have extended through much of the universe
then -- Straumli activated one of many dormant copies -- and the High
EPA zonked it and then set up a general protection scheme.

Why they made the Unthinking Depths, I don't know.

A scenario where they simply exploited and expanded the natural
structure of the universe is equally compatible with the evidence, but I
think mine is more space operatic. :)

} was pushed out beyond the Transcend, it would need to shrink more like
} 10,000 ly to be back to where it is today, requiring 5 billion years.
} But this is much longer than their history seems to go back. Possibly the

} case the previous incarnation of the Blight might have happened only a
} billion or two years ago.

Reliable (?) history may go back 1 gigayear; I don't remember. But they
have at least traces to 5 gigayears I think, and specifically the
Skroderiders are said to be 5 gigayears old. So the shrinkage rate
numbers, which I did check once, match the history if the rate has been
constant. Your first answer was right.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

And it's hey boys, can't you code it? *huh*
Program it right;
Nothing ever happens in this life of mine,
I'm hauling out the data on the Xerox line.