A Fire Upon the Deep is the big, breakout book that fulfills the promise of Vinge's career to date: a gripping tale of galactic war told on a cosmic scale. Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind's potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function.
Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these "regions of thought", but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.
Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.
©1992 Vernor Vinge; (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
I honestly couldn't listen past the first hour. The narration is so annoying that I just couldn't take it. I'm looking forward to reading the paper version
I felt like I was listening to an awful version of Nick at Night. The cartoonish voices he uses...high pitched and irritating, are bad enough, but he also seems to be telling the story like he is talking to 3 year olds. Very odd inflection
The story is very unique. So if you are looking for something different then this is it. The alien creatures are very very alien, but not like your normal genre humanoid-looking aliens but talking trees and dogs. This seemed to me more like a adulterated children's book then a fresh sci-fi tale.
SPOILER ALERT: I hate when a book ends with a super powerful unexplained phenomenon.
Nope. Still love my scifi and fantasy.
The descriptions were detailed in some areas but others it was hard to follow what the setting looked like. The creatures were so odd it was very hard to hold an image in your mind of what was going on. I found myself daydreaming through sections while driving and when I rewound, found that I hadn't missed anything.
I have to say I was entertained but I would not continue with this series.
I had attempted multiple times to read "A Fire on the Deep" since it won the Hugo in 1992 before I decided to try it as an audiobook. Alas, it seems that this novel, much beloved by many readers, is just not my cup of tea.
I will only add that the narration here didn't help matters. I appreciate when readers use their acting skills to differentiate between characters when speaking dialogue. But the screechy rendition of the Tines' speech was so grating to my ears that I didn't even get as far as I had in my most successful attempt at reading the novel.
I have never taken the time to write a review before this one. I know we all have different tastes and many have reviewed this book in a positive light (that is why I bought this in the first place). This is the first audio book where my mind would wander. My own thoughts about what to eat for dinner or which route to take home from work were more engaging than the story. Very disappointing. I have about 9 hours left and just can't finish it.
I do not know how narrators are chosen to read for an author, but if Vernor had some decision in the process, then NO, I would never listen to another book by him again. This book is probably better to have read physically than to listen too.
I have read that people describe Peter Larkin as using a "cartoonish" voice for the aliens. Of course I read that after I purchased the book. I actually began to interpret the story through the lens of the animated "Heavy Metal" movie. I thought that might be ok; first audiobook that I saw as a cartoon in my mind. But it was the constant stuffed-up-nose-muppet voices that finally killed it for me. To answer the question, anyone who can keep the listener from visualizing cartoons would be better.
I was never invested enough to care about the characters. I thought the hive mind dog pack was an original concept, but not worth building a world around. I would also cut the syllable count for the characters. Listening to the 4 and 5 syllable names over and over became pretty sing-song like and whoops, there went my attention again.
Very unusual entourage and interesting story.
Just not my cup of tea...
Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)
Reading the Peter F. Hamilton books of this same genre/subcategory have spoiled me with their 360 degree views and attention to detail. Maybe I'm just a geek, but for me, part of the allure of reading this type of novel is hearing some of the details about how things work. Mr. Hamilton can be overwhelming at times with the sheer amount of new/unknown things coming across in a single paragraph, but he usually does a good job of sorting it all out and explaining it in more detail further in the book. Mr. Vinge just skates along on the edge of these new technologies, new species, and new civilizations, without providing the detail a thinking person needs to buy into a sci-fi book.
I'm sorry, but after reading the book, there are so many things that the characters do, that they should not physically be able to do, that is just glossed over so that your brain is just forced to accept that a race of dogs can weave cloth, build boats, solder electronics, etc. using nothing but paws and jaws. Well, I have dogs and they have a hard time getting a tube sock off their nose, so I just couldn't buy into it.
I can buy that there is a race of plants, but they never eat, drink, or respirate. They just exist and have access to devices that run forever without ever needing any kind of energy source and without ever breaking down. My mind could only suspend the laws of energy and motion for so long.
Most of the characters in the book also seem forced to drink the kool-aid and rarely exhibit skepticism except when they shouldn't.
What should be an "epic space race" at the culmination of the book is a complete yawner. Again, sorry, but if you have a spaceship making jumps to faster than light speeds, none of that will have human intervention. We won't be "driving" such vessels, even the first Star Trek knew that you just set a course and turn it over to the computer. This book was written in the 90's.
I'm not saying that a sci-fi book should be more science than fiction, I loooooove the fiction parts the most. But, the science that is there needs to be be believable or it needs to be mystical (think Midi-chlorians in Star Wars), otherwise it just distracts from story.
As others have noted, the narration also left much to be desired.
I honestly don't know how this book won a Hugo award. Mindstar Rising by Peter Hamilton was published in the same year and it is three times better than this book!
There really are two stories in this book which don't really intertwine until the very end. The story of the children on the planet and the aliens they encounter there is incredible. It's really a brain bending idea full of very interesting characters and new concepts. But the story of the people in space tasked with rescuing them... well it was kind of lame. Perhaps the first storyline was so compelling that I kept finding myself annoyed when it would switch away to something less interesting. Perhaps separated the two storylines would have been independently awesome. As it is I can really only say that I liked half this book, unfortunately the two halfs are every other chapter.
The narration of A Fire Upon the Deep is so silly that it would be preferable to have the voice cast of Dora the Explorer read this book. I could not get through more than a few hours, though I wanted to read the book. I'll be checking it out from the library.
Fairly good novel. I got lost quite a bit with the premise of the "beyond" but overall the story was fascinating.
This book has some great world building, interesting aliens, and interesting idea about different zones in the galaxy. But in the end I felt it was too long and too crowded. There are two main story lines in this book. The main story about the blight and the zones of the galaxy, and a side story about the dog-like group-mind creatures called Tines.
Both stories are interesting and would have made nice books. Together, they were just too much and nothing was gained, IMO, by having them together. The main story about the blight could have functioned just fine without the Tines sub-plot. As it is, I felt the Tines story was distracting.
Venor Vinge gets bonus points for the exploration of the idea that the galaxy has different zone where intelligence and physics differ. This was fascinating. He explores this in detail and does it well.
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