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Genre: Fiction


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Genre: Fiction

By the standards of the planet Giri the travellers from outer space were “witlings”. For a peculiarity of evolution on Giri had given to all its living things a special talent—one which made unnecessary most of the inventions of intelligent beings elsewhere. Roads, aircraft, engines, doors. These were the products of witlings, not of “normal” people.

Genre: Fiction

As a mud-spattered youngster, Tatja quickly realized she was different from the Stone Age primitives with whom she grew up. Her insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge could not be quenched among them; she had to explore and learn more about the strange world on which she lived.

She finds the bastion of all culture, arts, entertainment, and history for the entire planet, the seven-hundred-year-old science fiction magazine which is produced entirely aboard a gargantuan floating vessel the size of a small city. But despite the printing presses, sail-powered vessels, and mind-expanding technology, Tatja is still displeased. Rising through the ranks, she finds that the people on the enormous barge are just as unintelligent as the primitives that raised her. But others have come to the planet who not only challenge her intelligence, but offer her a tantalizing opportunity to uncover answers to mysteries that have long plagued her.

But with opportunity comes risk. And if she acts unwisely, she could bring doom to the only world she knows.

Part I appeared in a slightly different form as copyright © 1986 by Vernor Vinge, in , September 1986.

Part II appeared in a different form as copyright © 1968 by Vernor Vinge, in Damon Knight’s anthology 4, published by Putnam and Berkley, 1968.

Parts II and III appeared in a different form as copyright © 1969 by Vernor Vinge, published by Berkley Books, 1969.

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