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After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power… and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed. On a world of fascinating wonders and terrifying dangers, Vernor Vinge has created a powerful novel of adventure and discovery that will entrance the many readers of A Fire Upon the Deep. Filled with the inventiveness, excitement, and human drama that have become hallmarks of his work, this new novel is sure to become another great milestone in Vinge’s already stellar career.


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After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power… and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed. On a world of fascinating wonders and terrifying dangers, Vernor Vinge has created a powerful novel of adventure and discovery that will entrance the many readers of A Fire Upon the Deep. Filled with the inventiveness, excitement, and human drama that have become hallmarks of his work, this new novel is sure to become another great milestone in Vinge’s already stellar career.

30 review for The Children of the Sky

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    If your favorite part of Vernor Vinge's Hugo-winning "A Fire Upon the Deep" was the relations between two human children and the dog-like hive minds called Tines on the medieval planet on which they became stranded, then you will love "The Children of the Sky". If you liked AFUtD for the peeks into the connected, multi-civilization melange of super tech species and near godlike transcended Powers, and the desperate flight of the rescue ship "Out of Band II" from the voracious Blight that was shut If your favorite part of Vernor Vinge's Hugo-winning "A Fire Upon the Deep" was the relations between two human children and the dog-like hive minds called Tines on the medieval planet on which they became stranded, then you will love "The Children of the Sky". If you liked AFUtD for the peeks into the connected, multi-civilization melange of super tech species and near godlike transcended Powers, and the desperate flight of the rescue ship "Out of Band II" from the voracious Blight that was shuttering the minds of a million civilizations in its tireless pursuit of humanity, you might want to give the book a pass. "The Children of the Sky" is the continuing stories of the two stranded children, Johanna and Jefri; their Tinish comrades Pilgrim, Amdri and Woodcarver; the villainous Flenser and the remnants of the other villains from the first book; Ravna, the librarian who crossed a galaxy to answer a distress call; and the awakened Children, who have doubts about the true meaning behind the disaster that ruined humanity's best chance at Transcendence. Here's the blurb SF writer Cory Doctorow gave for TCooS: “Imagine bootstrapping a fallen civilization into transcendence using nothing but a collection of hive-mind Machiavellis, a crippled hyperadvanced spaceship, and a pack of surly, scheming orphaned adolescents." Not sure he read the book. I'd like to read the book he was talking about. I love Vinge's work, usually. This book -- technically the third in the series that began with "A Fire Upon the Deep" and continued with its prequel, "A Deepness in the Sky" -- reads more like a middle book, with most of the questions left unanswered in the first book, still unanswered in the third.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike Ash

    There's a scene in A Beautiful Mind where Nash is visited by a friend and former colleague after coming home from the mental hospital. Nash shows his friend his latest work, which is just childish scribbling, from a man who had previously done work worthy of a Nobel Prize. The friend gives him patronizing encouragement but it's clear that he's horrified at what has happened. That's how I felt upon getting into The Children of the Sky. Vinge has produced two of the best books I've ever had the pri There's a scene in A Beautiful Mind where Nash is visited by a friend and former colleague after coming home from the mental hospital. Nash shows his friend his latest work, which is just childish scribbling, from a man who had previously done work worthy of a Nobel Prize. The friend gives him patronizing encouragement but it's clear that he's horrified at what has happened. That's how I felt upon getting into The Children of the Sky. Vinge has produced two of the best books I've ever had the privilege of reading, but this was an effort I have a difficult time even describing as mediocre. It seems that Vinge has forgotten how to tell a compelling story. The two previous Zones books often had more amazing ideas on a single page than most authors produce in a lifetime, and both had gripping plots and compelling characters. This book has none of those. When I first heard about a sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, I wondered how Vinge was going to come up with a good story. The ending of Fire didn't seem to leave any room for an interesting followup, but I figured Vinge would find a way. Unfortunately, I was right the first time. If you like obvious political intrigue, pointless plot sequences, cardboard villains and heroes, no real resolution to anything, and being told exactly how people feel all the time, this book is for you. Otherwise, you're best off pretending that the Zones series is still only two books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    ALMOST a 5. I have seen some fairly critical reviews of The Children of the Sky, but it seems that in general they do not criticize the book for what it is but rather because it is not what they wanted it to be. Vinge fans have been waiting for this book eagerly, because the other two books in the series were so good. My impression, though, is that there seem to be (at least) 3 kinds of readers involved, and we were anticipating 3 different books. First, there are the people interested in the al ALMOST a 5. I have seen some fairly critical reviews of The Children of the Sky, but it seems that in general they do not criticize the book for what it is but rather because it is not what they wanted it to be. Vinge fans have been waiting for this book eagerly, because the other two books in the series were so good. My impression, though, is that there seem to be (at least) 3 kinds of readers involved, and we were anticipating 3 different books. First, there are the people interested in the aliens & their interactions with the human Children; then there are those who are fascinated by Vinge's universe with its Slow Zones, Deep, the Beyond, and the Blight; and finally those who enjoy action. I am of the first persuasion, and, fortunately for me, this aspect is where the book shines. Even more than A Fire Upon the Deep, Children of the Sky makes the reader aware of the implications of being a Tine, with their special kind of pack mind. What would it be like if I were composed of a half dozen different sentient beings and could acquire a new member if I lost one or wanted to augment my personality in some way? What would courtship involve? How affected would I be if one of me died? The book also explores the relationship between the Tines and the Children, both at the societal level and the personal level, especially the special connection of Best Friends between an individual human and a particular Tine pack. It also continues the story of a group of humans trying to establish a permanent society on a new planet despite having lost access to much of their normal technology & all of their contact with the rest of their race. A reader who is looking for this kind of SF will be enthralled immediately and find a great beginning and a satisfying conclusion. Vinge's characters, both human and Tine, are very appealing. I enjoy getting to know them, rejoice at their good fortunes, and gasp when something bad occurs to them. I am FURIOUS when he kills one of them off! Readers who like a lot of action will think the book starts slow but has a great middle, as competing factions of Tines and competing factions of humans all fight each other & no one is quite sure who is on which side. Readers who want to know more about the Blight are just going to have to wait for the next book, which obviously is in the cards and which I certainly hope will follow The Children of the Sky much more quickly than The Children of the Sky followed A Deepness in the Sky! So caveat lector! This is an excellent SF read, and I believe most SF readers will enjoy it, IF you do not approach it with the wrong preconceived notion. It's a sure Hugo/Nebula contender.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    First off, I was a huge fan of Vinge's other books, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. They were awesome examples of hard science fiction, rife with interesting and innovative ideas and characters. Sadly Children of the Sky does not come close to its predessesors. To me it felt like the story suffered from Secondbookitis. It seems pretty clear that there is going to be a sequel, but this book just didn't know what to do in the interim. It was interesting to see how the humans were bo First off, I was a huge fan of Vinge's other books, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. They were awesome examples of hard science fiction, rife with interesting and innovative ideas and characters. Sadly Children of the Sky does not come close to its predessesors. To me it felt like the story suffered from Secondbookitis. It seems pretty clear that there is going to be a sequel, but this book just didn't know what to do in the interim. It was interesting to see how the humans were bootstrapping the tines up the technological ladder, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about a lot of the characters in this story. Stuff certianly happens, new characters introduced, old ones developed and even killed off, but it seems small potatoes compared to the Blight fleet that hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the entire book. The book was also lacking in the hard sci-fi aspects that made the first two books so memorable. There was very little, if any, technology in this story that humanity has not already developed. As I said before the humans are bootstrapping the tines world up and they haven't gotten past (or even up to in most cases) 21st century technology. The story was much more focused on the relations between characters and their motivations therein. If you can't get into the characters (like I couldn't) this book will be a bit of a slog. It will all seem much ado about nothing. Also, the early plot twist, to me at least, was rather obvious and not too surprising.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    This was a bit of a roller coaster for me, in that I expected huge undertakings and huge payoffs, but what I got never delivered more than an upheaval of Tines society and the progression toward a technological revolution in the Slow Zone, but after I got over this rather large disappointment, I was pleased to run with all the packs in a fascinating, complex, and plot-driven wonder of a really good character novel. I should have reread A Fire Upon The Deep first, but it wasn't absolutely necessar This was a bit of a roller coaster for me, in that I expected huge undertakings and huge payoffs, but what I got never delivered more than an upheaval of Tines society and the progression toward a technological revolution in the Slow Zone, but after I got over this rather large disappointment, I was pleased to run with all the packs in a fascinating, complex, and plot-driven wonder of a really good character novel. I should have reread A Fire Upon The Deep first, but it wasn't absolutely necessary. I loved that classic novel. It was the one that spurred the Singularity that we all know and love. This is its sequel, but The Children of the Sky has little to do with the Singularity, except as a far-off threat. Setting my personal expectations and desires aside, I sat down to read this long novel intent to enjoy it on its own merits no matter what the cost. It is a Vernor Vinge novel, after all. I have always GUSHED over his novels in the past, and it really speaks very well for him that 3 out of his 6 novels won the Hugo award. Quality is Quality is Quality. And this novel is Quality. The characters took a while to fall into, and the starting plot was somewhat okayish, but the depth and the execution of all the characters grew overwhelmingly poignant with time. It required patience, but never once did Vinge let me down. The whole novel is a painstaking tapestry that is imminently steady and complex with character relationships and development. Ravna grew on me, as did Amdi and Joanna. Even Tycoon grew on me, and he surprised me by not being any sort of classical villain. I was surprised by the developments, to be sure, and that goes double for the Choir. What a strange and fascinating creature. For those who either haven't read the first novel or have completely forgotten about it, the Tines are an alien race clawing its way from a medieval worldview to an advanced society. They are packs of dogs with telepathy, combining together in groups between 4-8 dogs to have equivalent human intelligence. That's the premise, but what Vinge has really given us is an extremely dense and really fantastic exploration of alien subtlety ranging from romance to warfare. Human technology only makes things chaotic and hopeful and destructive, and how the two races get along is the true heart of the novel. I think of C J Cherryh with so much fondness when it comes to this kind of alien exploration, but honestly, Vinge holds more than his own when it comes to the same thing. This novel isn't as flashy as the Foreigner series, but it is definitely as deep and magical and thought provoking, if not more so. It wasn't what I expected, but it certainly was more than I bargained for, and I can't help but feeling flush with satisfaction after reading it. It's true science fiction, exploring ideas, even if they are mostly "soft" ideas. I can't help but sit in awe with what he pulled off, even if the novel isn't completely mind-blowing. It isn't. It's not going to rank at the top of any list, but I am supremely glad I got to experience it. No reservations. No regrets.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    When you're following up one of the best science fiction books of the late 20th Century (A Fire Upon the Deep), expectations will be high. And unfortunately, they're dashed here. There are parts of this book that are fantastic, but there are a few sections that are glacially paced. A bigger problem is the characters: One of the heroic leads from the first book comes across as a myopic idiot at times in this one, and having just re-read AFUTD prior to starting this, that was hard to swallow. Also When you're following up one of the best science fiction books of the late 20th Century (A Fire Upon the Deep), expectations will be high. And unfortunately, they're dashed here. There are parts of this book that are fantastic, but there are a few sections that are glacially paced. A bigger problem is the characters: One of the heroic leads from the first book comes across as a myopic idiot at times in this one, and having just re-read AFUTD prior to starting this, that was hard to swallow. Also (and this may not be Vinge's fault as much, as I know from friends who are dealing with today's publishing industry that there's huge pressure to create series and trilogies), this is obviously the first book in a multi-part story. There are things left unresolved that can and should have been neatly wrapped up here, and the unresolved situation is as unconvincing as some of the actions of established characters. That said, I did rate the book three stars, and it's only because of the lofty expectations here that I spent the first paragraphs expressing disappointment. Despite the issues this book has, it is a fascinating look at a group-mind alien society and of humans having to adapt to losing their technological crutches. And ignoring the sluggish and ridiculous "circus" section in the middle, there's some really engaging adventures here as well. If you haven't read Vinge, by all means grab A Fire Upon the Deep, and follow it with A Deepness in the Sky. Then pick this one up knowing it's another chance to visit fascinating characters, but temper your story expecations, and you'll still find it worth a read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I was one of the numerous people who was looking forward to this book yet like so many others I found that, while it's enjoyable, it falls far short of the mark of its predecessors. A sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, it's far more thematically similar to A Deepness in the Sky. There are two big drawbacks to this book. One is the glacial pace (I easily skimmed at least a hundred pages in the middle of the novel with no loss). Antagonists who are so obviously evil that they should've been dispatche I was one of the numerous people who was looking forward to this book yet like so many others I found that, while it's enjoyable, it falls far short of the mark of its predecessors. A sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, it's far more thematically similar to A Deepness in the Sky. There are two big drawbacks to this book. One is the glacial pace (I easily skimmed at least a hundred pages in the middle of the novel with no loss). Antagonists who are so obviously evil that they should've been dispatched earlier somehow hang onto power through twists that seem little more than the author stringing things along. This book could have easily been shorter by at least a third and perhaps should have been. The second drawback is that the book is clearly intended to be the first of at least two sequels but this fact is not revealed until it's clear to the reader that the major story lines -- at least the story lines that the reader cares most about -- will not be resolved by the book's conclusion. I have nothing against multi-part sequels but I do like to know going into a story whether I can expect it's end in that book or the next one. Add in a couple truly evil characters whose motivations remain unclear and basically at the level evil-for-the-sake-of-evil, and you have a product that pales by comparison with Vinge's recent award-winning novels. A number of other reviewers are criticizing those who criticize the book, claiming that people are criticizing it for not being a different book, i.e. one at least partly set in space. I don't feel I fit into this character as I was looking forward to revisiting many of the Tines characters such as Woodcarver and Pilgrim. In fact, the parts with the Tines were the best parts of the book. It was the parts dealing with the humans (which was most of the book) that fell flat, again, mostly due to the glacial pacing. This is a book I'd recommend people read but perhaps check a copy out of the library instead of buy one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I started reading "Children"with moderate expectations: I knew it wasn't another A Fire Upon The Deep, but I've liked all his other novels -- I'm pretty sure I've read them all. I liked the book, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's mid-quality Vinge, and definitely not the place to start if you're new to him. A definite must-read for Vinge fans, like me. For those lukewarm re Vinge -- I'm not sure. For me, 3.5 stars, rounded up. I liked it a bit more on rereading. There are writing-craft issue I started reading "Children"with moderate expectations: I knew it wasn't another A Fire Upon The Deep, but I've liked all his other novels -- I'm pretty sure I've read them all. I liked the book, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's mid-quality Vinge, and definitely not the place to start if you're new to him. A definite must-read for Vinge fans, like me. For those lukewarm re Vinge -- I'm not sure. For me, 3.5 stars, rounded up. I liked it a bit more on rereading. There are writing-craft issues here: blurry characters, slow pace, cartoonish villainy.... I wonder if this is a "trunk novel," resurrected in his retirement. I don't read SF for literary excellence, but if you do, maybe you should give this one a miss. Here's a good professional review, by Cory Doctorow: http://boingboing.net/2011/10/11/vern... . He likes it, but glosses over the writing-craft problems.

  9. 5 out of 5

    C.W.

    Not quite as good as the first two, but still really enjoyable. The first two just have this great scope to them - they take place on more than just a single planet and with multiple groups of characters - while this one is smaller, confined to a single planet and a fairly straightforward story. Like I said, though, still really good. I really enjoyed this series and Vernor Vinge's writing. Looking forward to reading more by him. Not quite as good as the first two, but still really enjoyable. The first two just have this great scope to them - they take place on more than just a single planet and with multiple groups of characters - while this one is smaller, confined to a single planet and a fairly straightforward story. Like I said, though, still really good. I really enjoyed this series and Vernor Vinge's writing. Looking forward to reading more by him.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rusty

    Well, it's the sequel I've been waiting for - for almost 20 years. TWENTY-YEARS! Why, oh why, would a man who takes 20 years to write a sequel, clearly write something that does not wrap up the story? Yep, this is a trilogy, at the very least, and he puts these things out so slow, he's all but blackmailing the world to come up with some life extension technique that will allow him to continue writing for many more decades. Either that or we never find out how it ends. That's why I'm a bit pissed, Well, it's the sequel I've been waiting for - for almost 20 years. TWENTY-YEARS! Why, oh why, would a man who takes 20 years to write a sequel, clearly write something that does not wrap up the story? Yep, this is a trilogy, at the very least, and he puts these things out so slow, he's all but blackmailing the world to come up with some life extension technique that will allow him to continue writing for many more decades. Either that or we never find out how it ends. That's why I'm a bit pissed, not because the novel isn't good, it is, but because it isn't giving me the payoff I expected after so long. Look, A Fire Upon the Deep was a self contained story, it had just a sliver of items that left the door open for a sequel, but none was really needed. When I went back and reread the original novel in October, I was thinking the sequel would deal with the <---spoilers for the first book are coming, and will be dispersed throughout the review---> attempt to find a way to fight back against the blight which was stranded several light years away. It was still coming. And I was right, in a way. Not that that means much, it's the only logical place to take the story I suppose. So, what did he do? Something clever, and something I think he stole from the crappy Star Trek movie: Insurrection. That movie was on the other day, I saw half an hour or so of it before I fell asleep. Man, I can't believe how poorly conceived that was. However, it did raise a point that was interesting, what happens when people give up everything, fight and claw to find some way to create a better world, at great cost, for their children, and then the children grow up and really, really think the utopia that has been built for them is kinda lame, and decide to F#*k things up again? I think it's human nature, people generally learn through experience, you can sit and tell them the consequences of their actions all you want, but they'll go out and do stupid stuff anyway. It's just our way. In The Children of the Sky, all those caskets full of children in cold storage were awoken. When they had gone to sleep, their parents were at the brink of raising humanity to godhood, and had achieved the highest order of civilization that the universe would allow given the physics of the zone they were in, but they woke up in a medieval alien world, all their technology was gone, and the stories they were told was that their parents had awoken a great and ancient evil that had led to the destruction of most life in the galaxy, humanity was blamed for the blight and many alien species decided that humans were to be destroyed no matter where in the galaxy they might be. Yep, mom and dad had destroyed the human race, and most life in the galaxy. But it's okay now, we stopped it, and we're going to rebuild a technological society here on this world, with its inhabitants, and find a way to stop the small piece of the ancient evil (the blight) that hunts us still. Well, stories like that didn't sit so well with the children, as they got older, talked among themselves, and began to think about what they actually knew, they decided that they've been lied to. The events of the first book were lies, their parents were trying to save the galaxy, the blight was fighting a war to save civilization... and with that as an undercurrent, the events of this novel unfold. So, that blight that was bearing down on them was stopped by the super powerful countermeasure (read the first book, it's epic), by altering the laws of physics for most of the galaxy and forcing the blight to pursue at sublight speeds, why that act doomed countless spacefaring civilizations to certain death, it did preserve life in the galaxy. Ravna has done some math, and realized that the blight will be here in a few decades, they've got to be ready. The kids, however, they have convinced themselves that Ravna is either a tool of the real enemy, the countermeasure that took away their ability to live as civilized people, or simply a fool. That 'blight' is really their salvation, coming to restore the universe to the way it was before. It was what their parents were trying to do. Okay, Ravna is 'overthrown' and disposed of as ruler, she explores the world, and engenders the help of the locals, who are about the most clever type of alien species I think I've ever read about, and eventually comes back to hand out some cummupins. Also Johanna, the only child that was around during the events of the first book that was old enough to understand what was happening, has a story as well. It's a fine story, really good in fact - aside from an overly complicated climax perhaps - but what about the big picture? Vinge gives these super small hints that big, epic, huge, events are happening, but only hints at it. This is galactic scale space opera, after an Apocalypse, that doesn't tell the reader any new information, it's just a small story about people fighting amongst themselves. That's it. And that's where he failed me. This isn't the book I was promised, no, that isn't fair, it isn't the book I wanted. I LOVE the Tines, I love this world, I love this book, but dammit, I don't want to wait until 2029 to find out what happens next. George RR Martin could write several series of books by then, I mean, this is way too long to wait. If the next installment is coming out next year then I might feel differently, but as it stands this is a good book, but better if you think of it as a stand alone novel. The weight of expectations is going to kill this for a lot of people. It almost did for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    I can't say I waited twenty years for this like Vinge's long-time fans, since I only read A Fire Upon the Deep last year, but damn it was good to read another Vinge space opera. His Zones of Thought books now rival David Brin's Uplift series for my favorite SF. Vinge writes awesome, galaxy-spanning tales that manage to preserve some level of believability given a populated galaxy with super-advanced FTL technology, and he's particularly good with aliens, as he has proven with A Deepness in the S I can't say I waited twenty years for this like Vinge's long-time fans, since I only read A Fire Upon the Deep last year, but damn it was good to read another Vinge space opera. His Zones of Thought books now rival David Brin's Uplift series for my favorite SF. Vinge writes awesome, galaxy-spanning tales that manage to preserve some level of believability given a populated galaxy with super-advanced FTL technology, and he's particularly good with aliens, as he has proven with A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep. Unlike the previous two books, The Children of the Sky is a direct sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep. It takes place on the Tines' world, about ten years after the Battle on Starship Hill. Our old friends Ravna Bergsndot, Jefri and Johanna Olsndot, and Amdiranifani are back, along with Woodcarver, Pilgrim and several other Tines characters from the previous book, as well as many new human ones. The Children rescued from the Oobii's coldsleep caskets are now growing up on this medieval, alien world deep in the Slow Zone, and they aren't happy about it, especially those who remember living in the High Beyond where lightspeed is not a barrier and technology is far more advanced. As usual, the alien but relatable psychology of the Tines is one of the best parts of the book; this pack-minded species is incredibly difficult to write about clearly, and yet we get to know each Tines character as clearly and distinctly as the human ones thanks to Vinge's writing. He makes his aliens as varied as the humans - some Tines are comical, some are sinister, some are friendly, some are sadistic monsters. In this book we also meet the Tropicals, who live in vast "Choirs" that are city-sized orgies of madness compared to the northern Tines that the humans are familiar with. The main conflict comes from (human) Children who aren't satisfied with the rate of technological progress that Ravna and her Tines allies are making, and Tines who do not trust Woodcarver and her human "friends." There are a variety of conspiracies, double-crosses, and betrayals; Vinge excels at complicated multi-species skulduggery where you're never sure who will end up on which side in the end. This was a great, perfectly organized adventure tale from start to finish, with sympathetic heroes and heinous villains. If you have read the first two Zones of Thought books, then this is an absolute must-read, and if you haven't, why the hell not? Now, after all that fanboying, I have to ding The Children of the Sky by half a star, because in all honesty, while it's great, it's not quite as great as A Fire Upon the Deep. First of all, I thought one of the villain's motives, in particular, were never really explained; his goals made a certain amount of sense, but in many ways he seemed to be evil for the sake of being evil. I saw the betrayal coming, but I never did understand why. Second, if you like space opera, this book really isn't one; it takes place entirely on the Tines' world, which is for the most part still stuck at a pre-industrial tech level, though the humans are starting to change that. The only off-planet events are some very brief references to the Blighter Fleet. And regarding that, the last book was fairly self-contained, although obviously some loose ends were left dangling. This book doesn't end quite so decisively, as several great big issues are left unresolved. On the plus side, that means we can (I hope!) expect another sequel. On the minus side, this one took twenty years... 4.5 stars, but it really deserves 5 stars, it's just not quite as awesome as the first two books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hawley

    I see several similarities between this book and Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, his sequel to Ender's Game. Both are sequels to exciting, mega-hit sci-fi novels involving space travel, action-packed battles, changes of locale, and more. Both sequels are confined to one particular planet, confined to the politics and relations between humans and one particular alien race. Both sequels, while somewhat well-written, are slow and mundane compared to the first novels they follow. I see several similarities between this book and Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, his sequel to Ender's Game. Both are sequels to exciting, mega-hit sci-fi novels involving space travel, action-packed battles, changes of locale, and more. Both sequels are confined to one particular planet, confined to the politics and relations between humans and one particular alien race. Both sequels, while somewhat well-written, are slow and mundane compared to the first novels they follow.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    It took me a while to warm up to this book. I hate it when well-meaning characters are betrayed by people who want power, but who claim to be acting "for the greater good." That made the first third of the book unpleasant to me even though I realized what was happening with the humans on Tines World grew naturally out of their situation (the now-adult children, remembering their lives in the highly advanced Straumli Realm, resent being trapped in a medieval world). But then that pattern keeps re It took me a while to warm up to this book. I hate it when well-meaning characters are betrayed by people who want power, but who claim to be acting "for the greater good." That made the first third of the book unpleasant to me even though I realized what was happening with the humans on Tines World grew naturally out of their situation (the now-adult children, remembering their lives in the highly advanced Straumli Realm, resent being trapped in a medieval world). But then that pattern keeps repeating itself: liars achieve power, selfish people of both races are free to be cruel and violent, and ultimately the worst offender goes unpunished (and continues to stay in power through plausible lies). I kept wanting to smack people. On the other hand, Vinge successfully develops the alien society described in A Fire upon the Deep, adding another two "kingdoms" to produce a three-sided struggle among the Tines, with the humans having their own society that intermingles with each of the three. The creatures of the Tropics are more fully explained and become an important part of the story. Aside from two short chapters, the novel begins ten years after humans landed on Tines World, and the returning characters act as if it's ten years later, which I admire. There's even a couple of unexpected returns, both of which were satisfying to me. Much as I enjoyed the book, it suffers from being a rather long interlude in what I think many readers will see as the true story, the eventual arrival of the Blight. Two fluctuations in which Tines World is elevated out of the Unthinking Depths, one of them high enough for the Blight to close the distance rapidly, imply that the next novel (and I have no doubt there will be a next novel) will resolve that story. But if you were expecting this book to be entirely about dealing with the Blight, those two episodes can only be frustrating. In the end, I think its greatest flaw is simply that it isn't A Fire Upon the Deep or A Deepness in the Sky; both were true, space-based science fiction, and this reads more like a medieval/pre-Renaissance historical fiction. Good enough--in some places excellent--but disappointed expectations can ruin even the best story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dane

    A study in the dangers of high expectations. I so, so wanted to love this book. Vernor Vinge is a great author, and the other books in the Zones of Thought series serve as shining examples of the very best that science fiction has to offer. But while Children of the Sky is by no means a bad book, it is thoroughly average. The characters lacked life, the dialog was awkward, the plot twists alternated between being incredibly obvious and incredibly contrived, and on the whole it lacked the sense of A study in the dangers of high expectations. I so, so wanted to love this book. Vernor Vinge is a great author, and the other books in the Zones of Thought series serve as shining examples of the very best that science fiction has to offer. But while Children of the Sky is by no means a bad book, it is thoroughly average. The characters lacked life, the dialog was awkward, the plot twists alternated between being incredibly obvious and incredibly contrived, and on the whole it lacked the sense of wonder provided by Vinge's other works. I know I'm probably judging this far more harshly than I should - if my expectations had been lower, it likely would have been a mostly enjoyable read in spite of its flaws. But if you're thinking of picking this us, you've almost certainly read A Fire Upon a Deep, and after waiting possibly decades for this sequel, you're hopes will be at least as high as mine were. I'm not saying don't read it - just know what you're getting into. Or wait until the next one to come out, and see how the reviews of that one look, since Children of the Sky does in fact end on a cliffhanger of sorts. With any luck Vinge will be able to deliver a worthy conclusion to the trilogy, but only time will tell.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    Two credits. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of The Children of the Sky and totally planned on getting the audiobook because the ebook was too expensive. Then, it turned out that the audiobook was two credits on Audible. I hesitated for about one day. Then, I saw that it was narrated by my favorite narrator, Oliver Wyman and I caved. Wyman is absolutely wonderful and giving each character a unique voice and I have yet to hear a male narrator who does a better job at voicing women and c Two credits. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of The Children of the Sky and totally planned on getting the audiobook because the ebook was too expensive. Then, it turned out that the audiobook was two credits on Audible. I hesitated for about one day. Then, I saw that it was narrated by my favorite narrator, Oliver Wyman and I caved. Wyman is absolutely wonderful and giving each character a unique voice and I have yet to hear a male narrator who does a better job at voicing women and children. He was the perfect narrator for this book. Okay, Vinge's story was really good too. It's a sequel to a book I read several years ago, but it was completely unnecessary to re-read the first book. He did a great job of jogging my memory of events in the previous book without relying on heavy exposition. The story's pacing was excellent. It was a long book, but it never dragged. Definitely worth two credits, if you're on the Platinum plan.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Florin Constantinescu

    Wow, if Fire Upon the Deep was pretty cool, and Deepness in the Sky was bearable, The Children of the Sky is one of the worst and most useless books I've ever read. The action is so confusing and to no actual purpose at all. Who cares about the darned tines and their internal political struggles? Yuck. The writing style sucks big time. Avoid. Stick with FUTD which didn't need any sequel. Wow, if Fire Upon the Deep was pretty cool, and Deepness in the Sky was bearable, The Children of the Sky is one of the worst and most useless books I've ever read. The action is so confusing and to no actual purpose at all. Who cares about the darned tines and their internal political struggles? Yuck. The writing style sucks big time. Avoid. Stick with FUTD which didn't need any sequel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rindis

    A Fire Upon the Deep is an important novel that SF fans really should read. I think, like Niven's Ringworld, it's a flawed book with really good ideas. Like Ringworld, it also has a much better sequel. The original book had two completely different plots centered around different, very interesting ideas. It was obvious that the one plot was moving toward the other, but only because they were appearing in the same book. There was no actual causal relationship between the two, so the book was extre A Fire Upon the Deep is an important novel that SF fans really should read. I think, like Niven's Ringworld, it's a flawed book with really good ideas. Like Ringworld, it also has a much better sequel. The original book had two completely different plots centered around different, very interesting ideas. It was obvious that the one plot was moving toward the other, but only because they were appearing in the same book. There was no actual causal relationship between the two, so the book was extremely disjointed until right near the end. That does not happen here, and the plot is well structured throughout. At the same time, not everything gets truly addressed this time, so let us hope the next book does not take another twenty years. One thing that helps both books, is that in the end they are character focused. I think that's part of why this book focuses on the Tines, and examines more of the ways that their pack intelligence operates; the Blight and the entire zones of thought side can be fairly impersonal, and harder to do a more human-level story around. However, that part still drives conflict, and that is part of what isn't resolved here, and it looks like Vinge is well set up for a fight over what to do about the Blight, how to do anything about it, and to delve into the entire nature of the 'zones of thought' in the future. Another problem I had with the original book was being a long slog of a lot of depressing content. All the main characters are in horrible situations, and don't have a whole lot of agency about it. This book does some of the same, but the characters retain a good sense of agency along the way. Yeah, things go from bad to worse, the fractures in the tiny remnant of human society are worse than it first appears, but all along there are possibilities, and one more card for the main characters to play. My biggest problem was that it has been more than twenty years since I read A Fire Upon the Deep, and while I remembered some parts, there were a few things that came up here that I had forgotten completely. Vinge takes his time with this book, so while there's a certain amount of being thrown in the deep end, I think new readers will get a good feel for what's going on before the plot really gets going. That said, this is a direct sequel to another book, and I do recommend having read it first.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rift Vegan

    I read the 1st book for the aliens and I skipped the 2nd book because I hated Pham: there is no reason for me to read an entire book about him. I read this book because it continues the story of the Tines... I enjoyed it even tho V.V. insists on continuing to kill my favorite characters. And I enjoyed it even tho the bigger picture story (about the Blight) has not been advanced here at all (except they may be 10 of the 30 light years closer.) (view spoiler)[There is probably zero chance of recov I read the 1st book for the aliens and I skipped the 2nd book because I hated Pham: there is no reason for me to read an entire book about him. I read this book because it continues the story of the Tines... I enjoyed it even tho V.V. insists on continuing to kill my favorite characters. And I enjoyed it even tho the bigger picture story (about the Blight) has not been advanced here at all (except they may be 10 of the 30 light years closer.) (view spoiler)[There is probably zero chance of recovery for Pilgrim, even tho we never did find out what happened to him the first time he went to the tropics. (hide spoiler)] And I cried bitter tears (view spoiler)[ when Amdi was thrown out of the airships. That turned out okay, but GAH. (hide spoiler)] I was happy to see GreenStalk again, but sad to see her so crippled without her skrode. I am still incredibly upset about what V.V. did to the Riders in the first book (their origins, etc).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    It's a disappointing sequel to the excellent A Fire Upon the Deep. Set entirely on Tines world, the surviving characters from A Fire Upon the Deep have some adventures against power-hungry villains. Annoyingly, it doesn't tell a complete story - the big showdown with The Blight is trailed repeatedly, but won't happen until some later book. If an author repeatedly says "ooh there's a big interesting bad guy coming", said bad guy really should make an appearance. The wolf-pack Tines remain an inte It's a disappointing sequel to the excellent A Fire Upon the Deep. Set entirely on Tines world, the surviving characters from A Fire Upon the Deep have some adventures against power-hungry villains. Annoyingly, it doesn't tell a complete story - the big showdown with The Blight is trailed repeatedly, but won't happen until some later book. If an author repeatedly says "ooh there's a big interesting bad guy coming", said bad guy really should make an appearance. The wolf-pack Tines remain an interesting alien race, but little is added to what Vinge's previous (and far better) book established. tl:dr; Read A Fire Upon the Deep, then stop.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    Darn. Another big book that doesn't tell you IT ISN'T GOING TO WRAP THINGS UP until the next book. OK, it does a decent job of coming to the novel equivalent of a large semi-colon. I wish there was a way to find out whether a book's a standalone without risking big spoilers. There's a lot of five-star in this book, but also quite a bit of three-star. Surprisingly few reviewers have noted how interesting the exploration of the Tines concept is. I smiled every time I read "One of X came closer" Darn. Another big book that doesn't tell you IT ISN'T GOING TO WRAP THINGS UP until the next book. OK, it does a decent job of coming to the novel equivalent of a large semi-colon. I wish there was a way to find out whether a book's a standalone without risking big spoilers. There's a lot of five-star in this book, but also quite a bit of three-star. Surprisingly few reviewers have noted how interesting the exploration of the Tines concept is. I smiled every time I read "One of X came closer" or "X sent one of himself to look." I liked the way different Tines had very different personalities, and the various ways they might change or be changed. There are far too many (view spoiler)[ X is dead! .... Oh wait, no, X is OK after all! (hide spoiler)] I also liked the way many of the characters were just bumbling along doing their best, doubting themselves, and occasionally blustering and blundering. Far too many SF novels have Heinleinesque super-competents ("Mary Sues"), and this is refreshing. Flenser's good, Mr. Radio is great, Screwfloss adds a nice touch of "hmm, what next?" There are too many cases of "OK, let's take the plot over HERE now," and not enough where the next plot thing is a logical consequence but not obvious until pointed out. Nevil was partly a good idea (view spoiler)[ until he turned into Draco Malfoy. I kept waiting for him to actually say "Nyah-hah-hah!" This book's too good for him. (hide spoiler)] Like most SF books, this one relies heavily on characters taking a very long time to get from A to B so that some things can happen on the way. Vinge is careful to provide a few logistical details to make it believable, but (view spoiler)[ I am surprised that none of the characters developed scurvy or rickets or something from many tendays of a very limited diet and what could not have been very much water. (hide spoiler)] Not that almost every writer isn't doing that, and it's probably OK; if the details are provided, it's boring and some of the long treks might be revealed as actually being infeasible and then we don't have a plot! Agree with others that the circus scene was ludicrous, but it did move the characters from situation J to situation K, and I am not sure how else that could have been done. Didn't care much for the big final scene that brings everyone on stage at once. Far too much gotta-wrap-this-up implausible actions and decisions and results. Can't blame Vinge, really, because any plot this complex is going to be hard to bring to a (temporary) conclusion. Some faults, but still a darn good read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Davis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. From B&N: "After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. In Children of the Sky, ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human Children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred Children who were in cold-sleep aboard th From B&N: "After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. In Children of the Sky, ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human Children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred Children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power…and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed." I was excited to see that Mr. Vinge was continuing this series. I wanted to know what would happen with the Blight fleet that was hurtling toward the planet. Would Countermeasure have to be used again? Did Ravna have the technology and the knowledge to use it? What would life be like for the children that were in the sleep boxes? The story started off well, but I must admit to not really understanding the children's reluctance to believe in, or understand the threat posed by the Blight. And except for the main characters, it seemed there was a disconnect with the children. We only saw them thru the eyes of Ravna, or Johanna, and Nevil. I ended up looking at them like I view the Tea Bagger party - this faceless group of misinformed people that ruin things for everybody. I grew disgruntled with them, and wouldn't have minded if they fell off the face of the world. But, after all the exciting events at the end, I find that I am eagerly waiting for the next one, to continue the story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    The best thing about this novel are the Tine, a fascinating alien species, telepathic and with an individual existing as groups of individuals with a sense of immortality. Vinge explores the possibilities of such group minds quite well. Humans provide a foil which helps us understand the nature of the Tine. He does an adequate job, but throughout my read I kept wishing CJ Cherryh had written the work. She is The Master of alien/human interactions. My main problem with the book was the plot or st The best thing about this novel are the Tine, a fascinating alien species, telepathic and with an individual existing as groups of individuals with a sense of immortality. Vinge explores the possibilities of such group minds quite well. Humans provide a foil which helps us understand the nature of the Tine. He does an adequate job, but throughout my read I kept wishing CJ Cherryh had written the work. She is The Master of alien/human interactions. My main problem with the book was the plot or story. I just did not find it very interesting and derivative (same-o, same-o). It was not a page turner for me, but neither did I have to struggle to read the book. The political machinations were trivial and primarily human oriented. One thing bothered me. Essentially, all the main character bad guys are male, the good guys female. An appropriate balance would have changed this sex discrimination. It is obvious that a sequel is in the works. The main conflict other than Tinish vs Human sensibilities concerns those who believe in the Blight vs those who do not. Though the book can be read as a standalone, I strongly suggest reading the prior novels in the Zones of Thought series. I am hoping this is a bridge work to the final novel(s) in this series. Given that the 1st 2 books won a Hugo for Vinge, the series in toto my be superior to this novel alone. We have much yet to learn about The Blight and about the Choir of Tine individuals.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's been another decade, and Vernor Vinge has written another Zones of Thought novel. The first was a sprawling epic space opera married with Star Ocean-style cavorting on an underdeveloped planet; the second was a claustrophobic thriller set far in the past, about an encounter with a new (underdeveloped) species that goes wrong; this third book picks up after the first but confines itself to the Tines World. Unfortunately, this story is a disappointment. It leaves behind the scope of the first It's been another decade, and Vernor Vinge has written another Zones of Thought novel. The first was a sprawling epic space opera married with Star Ocean-style cavorting on an underdeveloped planet; the second was a claustrophobic thriller set far in the past, about an encounter with a new (underdeveloped) species that goes wrong; this third book picks up after the first but confines itself to the Tines World. Unfortunately, this story is a disappointment. It leaves behind the scope of the first novel, using interludes about the Blight to create an urgency that isn't delivered; and lacks the desperate situations and tricky twists of the second. The Tines are elaborated upon, but there are no new imaginative aliens or technology - the main theme of the book is really the development of technology and mass production in a pre-industrial society. The main characters are naive and idealistic, and most of the book is spent messing around in circumstances that strain towards a coherent whole. The final confrontation is confused - I had to reread it to figure out what was going on - and doesn't resolve any of the loose plotlines. A fourth book is necessary to deal with those, and if we're lucky Vinge will get around to it before 2020.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Goldsmith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not as immediately immersive as A Fire Upon the Deep, somewhat disappointing after part-readin A Deepness In The Sky recently, I'd have to described this as a curate's egg. The world building, given we've been here before, is wonderfully well handled, as is the integration of the High Lab humans into the Tinish Society. The tines are the most realised aspect of the book - Woodcarver is, thankfully, largely absent from this book, as is (sadly) Pilgrim. The replacement cast, among them Amdi and oth Not as immediately immersive as A Fire Upon the Deep, somewhat disappointing after part-readin A Deepness In The Sky recently, I'd have to described this as a curate's egg. The world building, given we've been here before, is wonderfully well handled, as is the integration of the High Lab humans into the Tinish Society. The tines are the most realised aspect of the book - Woodcarver is, thankfully, largely absent from this book, as is (sadly) Pilgrim. The replacement cast, among them Amdi and others from the first book, is given great depth, and the reader can feel a real connection to these characters, this strength extends to some of the humans, but by no means all. What isn't handled well is the passage of time - the novel takes huge leaps without real purpose, leading to some frankly bewildering passages. The division of the human society is also mystifying - no understandable motivation is given, other than some hand-waving around Ravna's influence in society. All in all, a good book, but by no means a great one, and in that respect, I guess its a disappointment.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

    I've read a bunch of Vinge's other stuff, all of which I've really enjoyed...particularly the 'Peace War' books, which were just great. Large scale, big idea hard sci fi just floats my boat, and Vinge does that so well. This one, though, just didn't catch. It almost did, particularly given the way Vinge brings to life his aliens. One of the best marks of a good sci fi author is realistic alien cultures and mindstates, and the pack-minds of the Tines were just wonderfully realized. That said, I had I've read a bunch of Vinge's other stuff, all of which I've really enjoyed...particularly the 'Peace War' books, which were just great. Large scale, big idea hard sci fi just floats my boat, and Vinge does that so well. This one, though, just didn't catch. It almost did, particularly given the way Vinge brings to life his aliens. One of the best marks of a good sci fi author is realistic alien cultures and mindstates, and the pack-minds of the Tines were just wonderfully realized. That said, I had trouble clicking with and getting a sense of the interplay of the characters. The novel just didn't light up, and I never got into the "flow" of the narrative. I just felt disengaged, not quite fully immersed in the world. I think, honestly, that part of my issue was coming in cold to what is a middle book in a series. I didn't get as strong a sense of place, or of the off-stage menace that was just assumed. Not terrible, but there are other Vinge books I'd point folks to before this one. A two point three.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Orth

    Killed my desire to read. I was plowing through books like a madman and I hit this one, got halfway through to the point where the plot took a major nosedive and found out there wasn't even an ending. Book should be named "Whiny Children of the Sky" People say bad reviews were from someone expecting one thing and getting another but what I got from this book was a bunch of whiny entitled children trying to restart civilization on a planet with a bunch of rotten fighting backstabbing natives. I'm s Killed my desire to read. I was plowing through books like a madman and I hit this one, got halfway through to the point where the plot took a major nosedive and found out there wasn't even an ending. Book should be named "Whiny Children of the Sky" People say bad reviews were from someone expecting one thing and getting another but what I got from this book was a bunch of whiny entitled children trying to restart civilization on a planet with a bunch of rotten fighting backstabbing natives. I'm supposed to enjoy this? The real kicker for me was in the book when Ravina has some major technological breakthrough but thinks how she's not very excited about it due to all the political drama currently going on... Vinge's own subconscious seemed to be writing the book. Vernor Vinge is dead to me now.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tudor Ciocarlie

    I've got mixed feelings about this book. I respect and admire what Vernor Vinge is doing with the aliens, but I have no love for this novel. It is long and some parts are, for me, really boring. Its prequel, A Fire Upon Deep, is much better but still has some of the same problems. Despite this, I will read the sequel of The Children of the Sky without hesitation (hoping the wait will not be as long), because the story in this middle book has great potential. I've got mixed feelings about this book. I respect and admire what Vernor Vinge is doing with the aliens, but I have no love for this novel. It is long and some parts are, for me, really boring. Its prequel, A Fire Upon Deep, is much better but still has some of the same problems. Despite this, I will read the sequel of The Children of the Sky without hesitation (hoping the wait will not be as long), because the story in this middle book has great potential.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The editor should be shot! I enjoyed the first book in this series but this one contributed very little to the story line - lots of stuff we did not need to get the points I think the author was trying to get across in way too many words. I like the concept of the series so I will continue to read the series, unless the next book is like this one - then, like the wheel of time series, I will drop it - something I rarely do!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Elliott

    I really liked Fire Upon the Deep. I did not like this at all. Exposition, indulgent descriptives, and a plodding story caused me to put this down 4 separate times and read 4 books in its place. I only came back and finished because I was trying to complete my goodreads 2013 reading goal. Shame, as Fire Upon the Deep contains some of the best alien lifeforms and imaginative methods for interstellar travel I have ever read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Brown

    I usually don't give books less that 3 stars, because if it's that bad, then I simply stop reading them. This book gets 2 stars because I was (only vaguely) curious enough to find out how it ends, and boy was that a waste of time. A non-ending; no loose ends tied up, an important character dies offscreen and it turns out that was the climax? So many questions left unanswered (in fact, not addressed), and I just don't care what happens to anyone. I usually don't give books less that 3 stars, because if it's that bad, then I simply stop reading them. This book gets 2 stars because I was (only vaguely) curious enough to find out how it ends, and boy was that a waste of time. A non-ending; no loose ends tied up, an important character dies offscreen and it turns out that was the climax? So many questions left unanswered (in fact, not addressed), and I just don't care what happens to anyone.

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