This is another five-starred SF novel by Vernor Vinge, really a book deserving a deep reading.
Basic idea is the same of 'Fire upon the Sky': but in this case the novel develops 20 thousands years before, but still 8,000 years ahead from now: Human race has spread in hundreds of stars evolving in different cultures in various star systems where some of them have developed incredible technical capabilities, while other ones have gone back to a barbarian pre-industrial level after a ‘Fall’ period due to war or plagues and other ones are flourishing again, returning to advanced levels thanks (also) to eavesdropping and steal of technology…..
One of the more advanced cultures is the one of Qeng Ho, a trading, space-faring civilization that spans all over the 'Human space' (a tiny portion of the galaxy with a radius of about 400 light years) using their huge ramships traveling at a significant portion of the speed of light (FTL travels are not possible within the Human Space....) trading their know-how and hoping for even newest and richest deals with the cultures they encounter.
But this time they have met a bite too big to chew: the Emergents, a ruthless human civilization they face in orbit around Arachna….
Even though some ideas come from the SF universe developed by Poul Anderson (and the author indirectly recognizes it, acknowledging his memory at the beginning of the book), I consider this as one of the best SF books I ever read: the plot is as complex and even more riveting than ‘fire Upon the Sky’....Continua