Zones of Thought (was Zindell's _The Wild_)

Crosby_M (
Thu, 7 Nov 1996 12:13:36 -0500

On Sunday, November 03, 1996 3:07 PM, Damien R. Sullivan wrote:
<Vinge's flaw is the Zones. The key difference (to me) is that the Zones
aren't meant to enhance anything. They're meant as an explicit gimmick to
allow the existence of normal humans to perceive the glory of the Powers.>

Wow! I found alot more to the Zones in _A Fire Upon the Deep_ than that!
They represent (to me) the various levels at which processes can operate
in this reality. The Powers may exhult in the Transcend of the Contest
level, but they must still sense through the Context level of the Beyond,
and even descend to the Unthinking Depths of the Content level to let
gravity do the dirty work of actually effecting change in the physical
world. (The Zones, in a somewhat more than metaphoric way, may also have
some basis in cosmology, IMVHO, though I won't get into that here.)

The moral of the Tines' world and the Slow Zone human Pham infected by Old
One is that Powers can't do much at our level (though they probably have
little interest in our level most of the time) without our help. In the
end, the Powers are reduced to operating through 'mere' human forms and
some 'magnetic slime mold' (the Countermeasure - a more serious 'mystical'
crutch, BTW, than FTL travel) in order to stop the Blight.

Is the infected human Pham really just "His [Old One's] robot at the Bottom
of the Beyond." 'No!" says Ravna, "you're human, and we're just working for
the same things."

These "same things" are the Patterns that Powers may play with at the Top,
advanced races may trade in at the Middle, but only certified,
uncontrolable primitives like humans (see experimental evidence from
Hanse), can actually implement at the Bottom.

At the risk of appearing Deathist, I might even suggest that it is
primarily the threat of death that inspires humans to master the magic of
self transformation. Without this capability (ST), be we Power, Blight or
Flenser, we are all Godscatter in the end.

Mark Crosby

"This thing is a devil," Manuel said. "And this is the figure I desired to
make, this is the child of my long dreams and labors. This is the creature
I designed to be more admirable and significant than the drab men I found
in streets and lanes and palaces! Certainly, I have loosed among mankind a
blighting misery which I cannot control at all." -- Dom Manuel the
Redeemer, in James Branch Cabell's _Figures of Earth_ (1st printing 1921,
latest printing (?) 1969 Ballantine Books)