It wasn't going to affect countermeasure anyway, which was Old One's concern. It seems unlikely to me that he would just do it so that our heroes and Tine's World would have a few decades to develop technology, since it was a suicide mission. The godshatter seemed extremely focused on just the specifics of the mission success. It just seems out of character to me.

The godshatter didn't seemed to gain anything by slowing the fleet - or did it?

  • 1
    IIRC the Old One was shown to have something of a soft spot, so if slowing the Blighter fleet wouldn't otherwise impact the mission then why not?
    – Tacroy
    Oct 22, 2012 at 3:10
  • @Tacroy true, he was somewhat fond of his fierce wolf and favoured dog. Maybe you are right. It did cost the Aniara Fleet, but Old One wouldn't care. Maybe also Pham interceded as much as he could. Perhaps it's most important for Vinge's sequels - and there'll be a story reason to be revealed in there somewhere too.
    – 13ren
    Oct 22, 2012 at 11:28
  • This question is ancient, by internet standards, but a significant aspect of beings that exist in the higher Zones of the galaxy is that their patterns of thought, goals, objectives, and so on aren't necessarily comprehensible to lower beings, nor can lower modes of thought necessarily explain them even by analogy.
    – Upper_Case
    Mar 2, 2020 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


The purpose of the attack on the Blight fleet wasn't to slow it down, it was to destroy targets that could have destroyed the Tines' world. The attack specifically targeted kinetic kill vehicles, those that were gradually accelerating themselves to large fractions of the speed of light. If the expedition to the Tines' world had become mired in another boundary surge in the Slowness, those kinetic kill vehicles would have destroyed the countermeasure before the OOBII could have reached it at sub-light speeds. Even without another unexpected Zone surge, the kinetic vehicles could have destroyed the planet shortly after OOBII's arrival anyway.

Remember that Old One didn't know what the countermeasure is. Old One was a Transcendent bottom-lugger, relatively insignificant compared to the origin of the Straumli Blight. It was not aware that the countermeasure was capable of hacking the Zone boundaries in the spectacular way that it did, only that there probably was a countermeasure the Blight was intent on eliminating. Pham's godshatter was not protecting the Tines or the main characters as such, it was merely doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of the countermeasure, whatever it was.

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    I listed to it on audiobook, so I may have missed some context, but my understanding was that the ships that were targeted were those that had a propulsion system that would still allow them to continue to the Tine's world once the boundary surged. Nov 12, 2021 at 14:47

The countermeasure itself was trying to do its thing, ie move the boundry of the slowness, before they arrived w Mr.GodShatter. Not quite successful. But scared off the Blight fleet, incidently. When Mr.GodShatter sat in the mesh and merged w the countermeasure, then it was able to really do "the thing", move the boundary of slowness all the way past the high beyond to the transcend, enveloping and trapping the blight once more.

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    I don't think they "scared off the Blight fleet," actually. The Blight's fleet is still coming, it's just arriving at slow sublight speeds - especially since the fast sublight ships are gone. It's not like the fleet has anywhere else to go, now that their FTL is inoperable... That's what the question is actually asking about; why bother targetting specific ships in the Blighter fleet?
    – DavidW
    Jul 13, 2023 at 16:53

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