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Preceded by[edit]

The preceded by / followed by entries in the infobox for this and A Deepness In The Sky are reversed, apparently because Deepness is a prequel. Surely these should refer to the date of publication, not the in-world chronology? I also dislike the passive-aggressive tone taken by the note left in the edit page. Euchrid (talk) 10:18, 24 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

No response to this, so I've gone ahead and made the change. Euchrid (talk) 22:00, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]


Nearly every paragraph in the plot section contains spoilers. It seems geared at reminding those who have read it about all the details they forgot. This makes the entry a terrible resource for people who haven't read the book.

The characters start out largely clueless, and the novel goes to great pains to carry you along through their process of discovery. Reading this plot description kills most of the wonder involved in that process.

I don't want to just wrap the whole plot in a spoiler tag, but I also don't want to rewrite the whole thing myself. (talk) 16:32, 17 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]

After reading through the wikiproject novel guides on writing articles, i feel a little more comfortable removing the whole plot writeup. The guides specify brief descriptions of plot, while this one goes into great detail on nearly every point, including the ending of the book. (talk) 17:14, 17 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I've reverted your removal. The guides may specifiy brief descriptions, but they are only guides and you are the first to object, and it seems to me that 5 paragraphs or a screen is pretty brief for what is an awfully long and event-filled novel.--Gwern (contribs) 22:41, 7 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I have to concur with the guy's objection, not to mention that the plot does a totally miserable job of conveying the actual context the book prevents the events in. The idea that it potentially caused trillions of collateral deaths is TOTALLY ancillary (in the book its practically unmentioned) next to the fact that they have essentially averted the apocalypse. The article should either stick to the cold, hard facts of the story development, or it should offer to commentary that the author intended. The plot section reads more like one particular book club discussion than an actual synopsis. Michael.A.Anthony (talk) 04:50, 12 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Removed two minor reviews...[edit]

Wikipedia is supposed to * NOT * be a collection of links.

The two reviews removed were trivial home-page type reviews... if Wikipedia started including things like that there would be ten thousand links to every passing opinion on each Beatles album, etc!

(Not to mention the thousands of people's-opinion collections on venues like Amazon.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:12, 23 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]


Of the subjects listed in the opening paragraph, I remember them from the book, with the exception of 'love'. How does love play into any of it? None of the characters fall in love with each other (although Peregrine and Woodcarver have puppies, it seems like more of a business deal than anything else.) --grendel|khan 06:35, 2004 Sep 4 (UTC)

Are you forgetting Ravna and Pham? And what about the relationship between Blueshell and Greenstalk? --Ansible 00:21, 2004 Sep 6 (UTC)
To say nothing of the apparent similarities between Human-Tine and Human-Canine relationships. Man's best friend and all that. --Dyolf Knip 21:39, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)


"It was made very explicit that FTL was possible only where computers were fast enough; plot points hinged on it." "Lack of FTL in the Slow Zone is not due to a lack of computing power, but is intrinsic to the physics of the zone" --Anon.

It seems to me like the anon is right on this that it is an intrinsic property. Could you point out where it says it depends on computing power? --Omegatron 16:08, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
It is an intrinsic property (FTL communication also fails), but the ability to use it is also dependent on computing power. E.g., we live in an environment where television-style displays function, but the extent to which we can use them is dependent on how good our electronics are. If the former fails, then the latter doesn't matter, as a billion years wouldn't be enough to perform the necessary calculations. - Dyolf Knip 21:34, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)
This is totally incorrect. The facts can be clearly seen, very explicitly, in many parts of the book. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:15, 23 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Actually; the book is quite clear on what makes the Slow Zone differ so greatly from the Beyond and the Transcend, namely the existence of something called "Ultralight". The book is very clear on the fact that the Slow Zone completely lacks this property and only exhibits the existence of "regular" light, travelling at a "mere" 299 792 458 m/s. One of the best examples of an explicit mention of this physical property is given when Ravna explains the layout of the Zones to Pham, while they are both still on relay: "[...]The Mindless Depths extending down to the soft glow of the galactic Core. Farther out, the Great Slowness, where humankind had been born, where ultralight could not exist and civilizations lived and died unknowing and unknown." Computing power hence has absolutely nothing to do with not being able to access FTL travel or communication in the Slow Zone; the problems stem from a purely physical quality of the Zone in question. Or, rather, the lack of said quality.

Ultralight in that context means FTL travel, not a substance. And it's "Unthinking Depths". Are you retranslating from a non-English version? --John Cowan (talk) 23:05, 30 March 2009 (UTC)[reply]
There may be some confusion with ultrawave, the medium of FTL communication. —Tamfang (talk) 00:52, 31 March 2009 (UTC)[reply]
And is FTL communication truly "cheap" (main page description) in the Transcend? They still need their planet-sized transceivers. It's just that such things are trivial for Powers to create, whereas they're very expensive to make and operate, even for the most advanced societies at the top of the Beyond. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 2 July 2007
That would be the Beyond you're thinking of that needs planet-sized FTL transcievers. (talk) 13:24, 22 February 2009 (UTC)[reply]


Is the -in of Stalin possessive, as stated, or adjectival? — Tamfang 05:29, 9 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Our Stalin articles says: "Сталин (Stalin) is derived from combining the Russian сталь (stal), "steel", with the possessive suffix –ин (–in), a formula used by many other Bolsheviks, including Lenin." --Gwern (contribs) 22:15, 9 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Tines absurdity[edit]

The idea that a multi-bodied intelligence could be coordinated by high frequency sound is nonsensical. There just isn't enough bandwidth to support it. David Gerrold discussed a similar idea (and came to the same conclusion) in his War of the Chtorr series. Also, the vast difference between the speed of sound and the speed of thought is another insurmountable barrier. --Clarityfiend 08:58, 7 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I'm sorry, your plain text comment is of too low bandwidth to convey any information into my brain. ;-) —-Omegatron 00:37, 8 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The speed of thought appears to be at most 100m/s, while in normal atmospheric conditions, the speed of sound is 344m/s, so I doubt speed has that much to do with it.-- grendel|khan 14:48, 6 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The speed isn't really relevant, I don't think. Problem is aggregate bandwidth and latency: neurons can fire somewhere around several hundred times a second, as best as I can remember, and there are how many millions or billions firing at any given moment? So high-pitched sound must be generated by muscles, which cycle much slower than neurons (that is, you could only generate so many noises per muscle movement, and neurons can generate signals at a much faster rate, which signals are intrinsically faster than sound, anyway). So bandwidth would be lower even over high pitches, and latency would probably be pretty bad: time for one Tine brain to think of something, generate the sounds, for the sound to propagate to the relevant other Tine, be received and processed into neural activity, and then to spark some thoughts in reaction. If any sort of reply is wanted, then the whole thing would have to start over, even for really short messages that require little bandwidth. --Gwern (contribs) 22:15, 9 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
You may well be right. The talk page on Wikipedia seems like a particularly bad place to air this kind of problem, however. The author decided to go with it, and so the description of the story must include it. The fact that you find it unlikely seems irrelevant, and adding such a comment would not, in my opinion, improve the article. Find a chat room somewhere where people discuss hard sci-fi and might enjoy debating the technical problems the idea poses and talk about it there. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 19:54, 5 February 2007 (UTC).[reply]
And, quite frankly, nobody knows yet how the subjective perceptual experience (the "greenness of green", etc.) arises out of real-world physics. While the brain's processing probably would overwhelm even an efficient sound data pipe, we don't know that massive transfer of data has anything to do with actual consciousness arising (as opposed to complex problem solving, which could be completely unconscious.) Maybe consciousness is a low-bandwidth "trick" of the universe. Furthermore, the human brain is two brain lobes, each relatively independent. People with hemispherectomies live relatively normal, fully conscious lives. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 2 July 2007
As an aside, Cohen/Stewart's book What Does a Martian Look Like briefly discusses the Tines and the biological plausibility or otherwise of their creation - it's been a good three or four years since I read it, though, so I can't tell you what conclusions they reached! Shimgray | talk | 00:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]
This comment "There just isn't enough bandwidth to support it." is totally incorrect. Very simply, we have utterly no (zero) idea how much bandwidth is needed for "intelligence". (That woukd be because ........ we have utterly no idea, whatsoever, of what "intelligence" is or how it works!) You may be thinking of things like communication between an eyeball and ... some other piece of the brain. ie, say 5 million pixels at N "frames" per second, and sure that may be too much bandwidth for some certain audio "modem" system. However that has zero, nothing, to do with "real" " ' intelligence ' " ... about which we know nothing, nada. For example, regarding the idea of "communications" between different parts of one brain - again we know zero, nothing, about what is communicated or what format in that situation (it may be an extremely high level, language like communication - with very low bandwidth. We simply have utterly no idea, at this stage, 2009). It's worth noting that humans do indeed communicate - perfectly - to perform team actions using the trivial bandwidth of language; consider how much better "teamwork" would be if we "merely" had the 1000s x extra bandwidth available with some sort of audio-modem commnuication. It's perfectly feasible (in the "what is sensible in sci-fi" context!) that such communication could be relevant to a group-mind type situation.
Much of the technology depicted in the book is "nonsensical" -- FTL travel, FTL communication, antigravity, etc. But then again, it's an explicit premise of the book that the laws of physics operate differently in the region of space where the book's action is set. FTL and antigravity are workable in "the Beyond", and artificial intelligence is also feasible there. It's not all that much of a stretch to assume that the obstacles to this sort of group mind also don't exist in that part of space. 01:16, 6 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

People, have you heard of Suspension of disbelief?Mátyás (talk) 11:33, 17 February 2009 (UTC)[reply]

No, but I'll pretend that I have. —Tamfang (talk) 17:51, 17 February 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Name that planet[edit]

Argh, I've mislaid my copy. What's the name of the first human world in the Beyond, ancestral to most if not all humans in the Beyond? One mention of the name, I think, occurs where Ravna meets Pham, who is visibly not of the same ethnicity. — Tamfang 05:01, 16 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Nyjora. Ravna refers to Pham as "A glimpse of non-Nyjoran humanity." --Clarityfiend 00:21, 17 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The Nyjoran branch of humanity, whatever that was, was the only branch to make it to and/or establish a significant foothold in the Beyond. They spawned Straumli, among other colonies. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 16 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Cover image[edit]

The cover image I added is the Boris Vallejo cover that I've seen on nearly every edition. I have yet to see what the first edition hardcover looks like; if anyone does have it, please feel free to replace the first-edition paperback cover. --grendel|khan 14:48, 6 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I will try to get a photo of my first edition.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 23 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Names and meanings[edit]

When I read the book, I suspected that 'Flenser' was intended as a reference to B. F. Skinner. it's a rare word, but I checked the OED meaning and it fits.

It's been a while since I've read the book, but I believe that at one point, the Flenser character is darkly amused at the coincidence while reviewing Earth history. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:05, 4 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
The book does call Flenser "Skinner" towards the end, but I don't recall if that is a dual translation to the humans, or if that was a (partially) new entity name for him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 2 July 2007
"Skinner" is used because a more precise translation of "Flenser" is not in the vocabulary that the Packs share with Jefri. —Tamfang 06:35, 3 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I'd guess also that 'Woodcarver' is meant to refer to someone, perhaps a teacher of Skinner, which Woodcarver is to Flenser. But I don't know the field well enoguh to make a match. --GwydionM 18:35, 18 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I'd already linked Flenser to the Wiktionary entry for Flense; it's not all that odd a word, although 'flenser' certainly is. But I don't know who Woodcarver would correspond to. Skinner's mentor was John B. Watson, but such a link strikes me as totally wrong. Personally, I think Woodcarver is more akin to Abraham Maslow, but the relation to Skinner seems to be wrong. Maybe we're just reading too much into it - who opposed/nurtured Lenin and Stalin? --Gwern (contribs) 19:16, 18 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
What's happening is 'behaviour modification', not class warfare or anything recogisable as Marxism or a critique of Marxism. You do get that in some of his other books, but this is about creating controlled individuals via punishment and reward. --GwydionM 19:26, 18 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
And also building up of new individuals - the tactics are very Leninist, and Steel? Come on. The name is an obvious reference to Stalin, especially given his place as second in the succession - just like Stalin was after Lenin. --Gwern (contribs) 00:21, 19 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
What about the Steel General in Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness? Steel is a very widespread and ambiguous image. --GwydionM 19:44, 21 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, but if he were picking images, why not continue the trend with an even more vicious name? Woodcarver made Flenser, who made...? Steel doesn't fit, unless it's a determined reference to Stalin. I wouldn't necessarily try to work backwards too hard, though, trying to align Stalin's history atop the doggies'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 2 July 2007

I modified the Scandinavian reference to make it more accurate. "Lynsnar" is an actual word in Danish and Norwegian, not an invention of Vinge's. --dllu 14:22, 1 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Usenet influence[edit]

The Beyond public net seems to be influenced by the late 1980's or early 1990's Usenet in various ways... AnonMoos 04:31, 3 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

For "influenced by" read "a somewhat satirical portrayal of". —Tamfang 06:15, 8 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]
No kidding. The "hexapodia" Beyond poster certainly made that quite hilariously clear. --Gwern (contribs) 18:01, 8 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]
It was the inclusion of Sandor at the Zoo that gave it away, I felt :-) Shimgray | talk | 00:56, 13 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Care to expand on that? —Tamfang (talk) 06:53, 22 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Henry Spencer used to work for the zoology department at the University of Toronto ("utzoo", as the machine was), and has been active on Usenet since... well, records began, since he was the one keeping them ;-) Spencer at Zoo, y'see... there are apparently stylistic resemblances in the writing, though I haven't checked, but Henry is apocryphally wise and infallibable, a voice of reason and sanity who always seems to know the correct answer, and the tiems when someone manages to correct him are an Event. ("A good rule of thumb is: If Henry Spencer says something you disagree with, then you're wrong." - Tom Fitzgerald, 1993)
his comment... Shimgray | talk | 21:07, 24 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I say we stick that in the article - it's as solid as anything dealing with Usenet usually gets. --Gwern (contribs) 22:26, 24 December 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Does "hexapodia" also represent someone specific? —Tamfang (talk) 17:16, 22 May 2009 (UTC)[reply]

All mention of Usenet has now been removed, boo hoo! —Tamfang (talk) 22:28, 22 March 2009 (UTC)[reply]

It still feels more like BITNET to me, has Venge ever done an interview on this matter? Lawrie (talk) 07:52, 6 March 2021 (UTC)[reply]

pack gender[edit]

[sexual identity amongst mixed-gender packs being determined by majority]

Is that supported by canon? I seem to remember that Tyrathect was "she" at first and "he" later when the Flenser persona took over. —Tamfang (talk) 19:47, 7 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Agreed. I would suggest making that 'strongly influenced'. The meaning of pack gender is itself somewhat speculative. -- Resuna (talk) 15:38, 5 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Powers and Transcendence[edit]

Changed the age when powers usually die/disappear to 10-15 years. "Old One" was called "Old One" because he was 13, and by that age, almost all Powers have moved on to whatever, or died.

Q: Would we want to strip the word "quasi" from "quasi-power", describing the Blight? Two reasons: 1. It kind of gives a spoiler (one doesn't want it called "quasi" because the very end of the book suggests Powers move on to an even greater Power level) and 2. It suggests The Blight is some kind of inferior near-Power, when in fact it becomes solidly established that this thing is far more powerful than a "standard" Power, both by actions (relentless deicide) and by statements from Old One. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 16 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

I don't know that it is "far more powerful". It's repeatedly underestimated, but it's something very different from the typical Power: living in the Beyond (albeit at the very top) and evidently much longer-lived.
—WWoods (talk) 23:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]
It hardly matters whether you put "quasi-" in front of it or not, given that the term "Power" is used in the article when it hasn't been defined. The opening para (at least) needs to be rewritten to describe things in terms that do not presuppose that the reader has already read the book.
P.T.isfirst (talk) 07:34, 30 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]

User:Kalaong recently added: The Powers ... routinely ... employ technologies that warp the very nature of reality.... What does that mean? (It reminds me of some of the weirder space-drives mentioned in Startide Rising.) —Tamfang (talk) 08:27, 6 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

I was referring to zone-altering tech like the Countermeasure. And my numbers on the size of the Zones come from diagrams in the book - I found the pic I used for the estimations at [1] Kalaong (talk) 19:49, 9 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Ah – next time make it more specific than "the nature of reality", okay? — The second chart on that SJG page reflects a misunderstanding. The "20 Kly" scale belongs to both; in the book, the "2 Kly" scale belongs to a chart of a small part of the Beyond showing various relevant sites. Unfortunately each scale is placed on a boundary between diagrams. —Tamfang (talk) 05:34, 12 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Pham says: I'm ... focusing Countermeasure. I see now, Countermeasure, what it is.... It was designed by something beyond the Powers. [...] Oh, the ghost of Old One is amused. Seeing beyond the Powers was almost worth dying for. — Even if the Powers made it – "routinely"?! —Tamfang (talk) 08:53, 22 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Trivia section[edit]

The 'Trivia' section is tagged as needing work: I'm not volunteering. But the content of this section is unusually useful and interesting to the reader of the article (except that most factoids have no cited source). But note the use of the word "currently", never a good idea - does that mean in 2008, or when? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:43, 10 November 2008 (UTC)[reply]


What is the justification for saying the boundary between the Slow Zone and the Beyond is "abrupt"? To me this suggests a boundary surface rather than a rather narrow transitional zone; I got the impression there was a transitional period as they enter the Slow Zone. But, I don't remember enough to answer this. If there is evidence that it's abrupt, fine, but otherwise, I suggest simplifying "changes abruptly at the boundary" to "changes at the boundary". Please help. Zaslav (talk) 22:57, 27 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

The reports of the Zonographic Eidolon (if I'm remembering the name right) on the movements of the boundary indicate that the position of the boundary can be measured with some precision, implying that it is rather sharp. Also, doesn't the Aniara Fleet suddenly find itself (temporarily) in the Slow? —Tamfang (talk) 04:41, 29 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
The boundary between the Beyond and the Slow Zone is defined as the threshold of FTL capability. On one side of it FTL jumps can be effected and on the other side they can't. So while the underlying phenomenon of the zones may be a smooth gradient in some sense, this capability is depicted as binary; it either works or it doesn't. At some point you'll find that the capability is either there or it isn't; being binary with no in-between state it's going to be by definition abrupt. -- P.T.isfirst (talk) 04:56, 10 May 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I removed the word "abruptly", because P.T.isfirst convinced me we don't actually know that. Either P.T.isfirst or Tamfang may be correct as far as we know. Shall we ask Vernor Vinge? Zaslav (talk) 19:04, 17 May 2009 (UTC)[reply]
That's funny, because I thought I was making exactly the opposite point. The zone boundary is depicted as abrupt because it's defined by FTL jump capability, which is something you either have or you don't. There's no middle ground, though the speed improves along a gradient in the Beyond where you do have it. But since there's a critical on/off threshold, I'd say "abrupt" is quite appropriate. P.T.isfirst (talk) 04:09, 21 May 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Origins of the Slow Zone[edit]

Does the "Slow Zone" and "Beyond" remind anyone of the plot of Poul Anderson's Brain Wave? I just read it and I suspect it gave Vinge the idea. -- JSBillings 16:14, 21 August 2009 (UTC)[reply]

That certainly is plausible; have you considered asking him? I understand he's relatively accessible and even answers email (or something; I forget how Raul654 got his picture). --Gwern (contribs) 14:08, 14 September 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Not these days. "(November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001)". See discussion of the word "currently", above. --Thnidu (talk) 20:02, 19 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Anderson isn't the one I'd ask whether his book gave Vinge the idea. —Tamfang (talk) 03:07, 20 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Thnidu, I meant Vinge, not Anderson. --Gwern (contribs) 03:17, 20 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Oh. Oops. Sorry. --Thnidu (talk) 22:17, 21 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]
This is probably correct. VV dedicated A Deepness In the Sky to Anderson, in which he says that he stayed with them during the 1960s (and possibly where he got his Scandinavian influences from as well, though Anderson only lived in Denmark until WW2). (talk) 17:37, 21 November 2012 (UTC)[reply]


The Zones of Thought section says that in The Unthinking Depths "[s]pace travel is nearly impossible, requiring big, dumb vessels with neolithic automation and massive redundancy." "Neolithic"? Only in the colloquial sense; impossible if taken literally. Since the distinction is so unclear, and the expression isn't cited as a quote from the book, I'm changing it. --Thnidu (talk) 20:15, 19 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Weird vandalism[edit]

Someone using the University of Waterloo IPs (talk · contribs) and (talk · contribs) has repeatedly inserted nonsense into the article:

One of the archaeologist programmers also had a vision of defining an a functional monad with no relation to the category theory derivative. A monad is just a monoid in the category of endofunctors. He wasn't sure what the problem was.

Searching a digital copy of this book shows no occurrences of "monad", "endofunctor" etc. is also repeatedly inserting silliness into Old Man's War. Please revert/rollback this stuff on sight. Cheers, CWC 12:14, 22 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

User:Gwern tells me it's a joke about Haskell (programming language). Uncommonly persistent joker, tho. —Tamfang (talk) 19:09, 27 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Missing Info[edit]

On 16/17th Feb 2011 a user name EEMIV deleted about 2/3 of this article (23k -> 8k)... many important aspects of the novel were removed, including the pack-mind of the Tines and the Zones of Thought. Was this done for a reason, or was it just over-zealous editing? Does anyone object if I put most of it back? Tobus2 (talk) 05:46, 1 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I removed it per WP:PLOT, WP:WAF, and the overwhelming indiscriminate inclusion of tangential content. I suggest asking for a third opinion, considering how low-traffic this article is. --EEMIV (talk) 11:49, 1 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The article ought to cover the most distinctive features of the novel, namely the Zones and the composite minds (Packs and Skroderiders), rather than plot details. —Tamfang (talk) 18:34, 6 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The notion of "distinctive features" is WP:OR -- if third-party commentary on the book cares enough to offer analysis of "zones" and minds and whatnot, then that's appropriate in a commentary section. The plot, however, should in fact consist solely of plot details. --EEMIV (talk) 18:47, 6 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I disclaim any intent to contradict any tautologies. —Tamfang (talk) 22:00, 6 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The part about the Zones is the reason most people will look up this article. If it's not meant to be in the plot, you either take the time to create a separate section yourself, or you flag the article as needing attention. Just flatly removing it is not constructive, and makes the article less useful and therefore less likely to be improved upon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 4 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"The part about the Zones is the reason most people will look up this article." Is it, then, #Anonymous user? Have you got a reliable source for that? Let us not make major edits on the basis of somebody's bare guess. --Thnidu (talk) 20:37, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Wrong Link?[edit]

The link to "Samnorsk" under Races/Humans have been spit into two. SAM links to the article about Sami Languages, while NORSK links to Norwegian Languages. Norway have two written languages, that are similar but with some differences. Samnorsk was an earlier attempt at unifying these two languages into one. So it does not have anything to do with the Sami Languages. Unless Vinge has created his own concept with the terminology Samnorsk, though I can not recall that being mentioned in A Fire Upon the Deep, or any of the other Zones of Thought stories I have read. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:35, 13 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]

In the time of the story it would be long forgotten why the language of Nyjora calls itself Samnorsk; but I guess your explanation is more plausible than the other — I wouldn't expect the author to invent a Finno-Germanic blend language and call it by the existing name of another language. —Tamfang (talk) 22:42, 13 September 2012 (UTC)[reply]
And the "sam" in (real-world) "Samnorsk" certainly wouldn't refer to Sami, a totally unrelated language. I don't know exactly what it means here, and haven't found it in cursory WP and wider internet searches, but I have a strong hunch that it's cognate with English "same" and means something like "in common". (PhD linguist here) From Norwegian language conflict:
This notion of convergence led the Labour Party to embrace the ideal of a synthesis of the two main languages into one language, built on the spoken forms of the "common person", or samnorsk.
The reforms clearly aspired to bring the two languages [ bokmål and nynorsk ] closer together and predictably angered advocates in each camp.
--Thnidu (talk) 19:13, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

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Why "Tines"?[edit]

Why are the canid aliens of whom

each "person" compris[es] a group mind of 4–8 members, who communicate using very short-range ultrasonic waves from drumlike organs called "tympana".

called "tines"? It isn't mentioned in the text, but I'm pretty sure I know why.

Our article Tine (structural) says

Tines..., prongs or teeth are parallel or branching spikes forming parts of a tool or natural object.

Merriam-Webster Online defines "tine" as

1 : a slender pointed projecting part : prong
2 : a pointed branch of an antler

But I suspect most English-speakers think of a tine as specifically one of the prongs on the business end of a dinner fork; most forks I've seen have four. One such tine alone can hardly do any of the things we use forks for. And like these tines, the alien Tines are fully functional only as a group of four or more.

--Thnidu (talk) 19:49, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]