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A Fire Upon the Deep | [Vernor Vinge]

A Fire Upon the Deep

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1993

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (493 )
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4.1 (336 )
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  •  
    Paul Flowery Branch, GA, United States 04-08-12
    Paul Flowery Branch, GA, United States 04-08-12 Member Since 2003

    Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's not Peter F. Hamilton"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan United States 11-22-11
    Ryan United States 11-22-11 Member Since 2011
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    "My all-time favorite book!"

    This book is just outstanding. The universe that Vinge creates is so full, the alien races are so original, and the story itself is amazing. If you like hard sci-fi, read/listen to this book. Peter Larkin does a good job reading it, even though some of his voices are hilarious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simeon Quakertown, PA, United States 10-02-11
    Simeon Quakertown, PA, United States 10-02-11
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    "Mind-bending"

    Mind-bending.

    One of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, fourth on reddit's sci-fi book survey.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bridget Tucson, AZ, United States 02-16-11
    Bridget Tucson, AZ, United States 02-16-11
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    "Good story, voices annoying"

    The reader of the story had trouble simulating voices, and typically came out with a shrill one to represent any given alien or child. I would have preferred a straight read.
    Story and writing are good, solid, space opera, with a nice twist to deal with Einsteinian limitations on FTL.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-15-11
    01-15-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It was good, but not great."

    It's a good story, but very long, for me it was way to long periods where very little happened. The last 5 chapters on the other hand was thrilling and very good. The narration was good, but not stellar.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan El Paso, TX, United States 01-24-10
    Dan El Paso, TX, United States 01-24-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Excellent"

    Vernor Vinge writes great SF.

    7 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 09-27-12
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 09-27-12 Member Since 2008

    Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Whoever Compared This to "Hyperion" is WRONG!"

    I spent the 2 credits for this book based solely on the fact that one reviewer stated it was like the book, "Hyperion". Thanks a lot!! This book is NOTHING like ANY of the Hyperion books. The Hyperion universe is based in science, and is actually somewhat plausible. Vinge's universe is FOR CHILDREN. Albeit, smart children, but it's for children nonetheless. If you like silly animal characters (talking dogs and bad butterflies), silly voices from the reader, and silly plot lines, then THIS IS YOUR BOOK. If you are an adult, and like hard-edged ADULT sci-fi, then steer clear of this one. I am not pleased at all that one reviewer lied and cost me 2 credits. Hopefully, I'll be able to save at least one of you from the same fate!!

    Having said all that, if you are young, like 10-14, and like Sci-Fi, you'll probably enjoy this book.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Temecula, CA, USA 03-15-10
    Edward Temecula, CA, USA 03-15-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Review"

    The story was an ok read as I found the concepts interesting.

    Be warned: The story wraps up all to neatly at the end and is dissapointing.

    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
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