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
A galaxy where faster-than-light communication is possible, but only at very low bandwidth...so the galaxy becomes a hangout for USENET trolls and forum spammers.
A sentient plague of fascist oppression that spreads like a virus throughout the galaxy.
Wolflike creatures with pack minds, so that each pack member is both a body appendage and a piece of the individual's personality...
This book has some of the wackiest, wildest ideas I've ever read in sci-fi, and I've read a LOT. The plot moves fast and the scenery is spectacular. The characters are a bit less fleshed-out than in some of Vinge's other books, but that's OK...to find out more about the dashing space-hero Pham Nuwen, just read the (even better) prequel, A Deepness in the Sky.
Overall, one of the best space opera books ever, right up there with David Brin's "Uplift" books and Dan Simmons' "Hyperion".
There's a reason this and the followup (A Deepness in the Sky) are in any top 25 SF list. Fantastic books, and certainly worth the somewhat higher than normal price.
With that said though, you can't help but notice that the tone of the narrator often doesn't truly reflect the adult and serious nature of the story being read. It's good narration for sure, but often the content and narrator tone just don't seem to match. I almost regret not buying the paperback for this reason, so my minds voice could capture the suspense and all seriousness of the situations that often gets lost in elocution by Mr Larkin. But I'm not disappointed. Still 5 stars.
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first thing is there are these "zones" that are not explained at all really but they are sections of the galaxy that are separated by the types of technology that would work there, Earth (old Earth since this is way far into the future) - Vinge first used the concepts of "Zones of Thought" in a 1988 novella, "The Blabber", which occurs after Fire. Vinge's next novel, A Deepness in the Sky (1999), is a prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep set 20,000 years earlier and featuring Pham Nuwen. As of 2009, Vinge was working on The Children of the Sky, "a near-term sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep", set approximately ten years later.
it starts with an imaginative description of the evolution of this super-intelligence through exponentially accelerating developmental stages, ending in a transcendent, nigh-omnipotent power that is something that normal Humans cant understand at all - then before its final "flowering", the changes in a single minute of the Blight's life are said to exceed those of 10,000 years of human civilization.
so at first this was really hard to follow, as someone was going into some kinda ancient archive and had "awaken" some type of programs that started to get sentient and they had to get out of there before it became a problem for them, it didnt work and they crash onto a planet with these "Tines" which are like dogs in packs but with long necks and smart as humans only when they are in groups of 3 or more - they are at the level of medieval Earth so just cross bows and axes and stuff like that
things get really hard to follow but in the end you will understand most if not all of it, I do feel that this could have been about 5-10 hours longer and told a story with more things explained but its ok
also get the other one "A Deepness in the Sky" if you want to know more about Pham Nuwen
Highly recommended. Overall, I liked "A Deepness in the Sky" better, but this book was great too. The first part of "Fire" was excellent, exploring a fascinating universe and a unique alien race. I *really* liked the way the race was introduced --- realization of its differences only slowly coming into focus. And the idea of the universe having slow and fast zones was really great. Unfortunately, once the universe was introduced, the second half was much weaker --- just a slow march to a predictable conclusion. (Ironically, "Deepness" was the opposite. It was so slow in the beginning, but ended on a high note.) Despite this minor weakness, Vernor Vinge is definitely on my list of favorite authors. I read this book before "Deepness" and recommend that order (even though this occurs later in time).
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
It's a fun and sometimes very interesting story--especially the parts on the dog-pack planet--but it's actually rather difficult to follow the story via audiobook. There are many made-up names for technology, planets, civilizations, etc. and I often wished for a paper copy to rifle back through to figure out certain things.
The reader does a good job with voices but he seems to have had a cold for at least a couple of days of the recording. So careful-- it's distracting.
Science writer in America's heartland
This is the story of what happens to humans and other residents of the galaxy when they encounter more ancient beings in the far beyond. The Internet (or whatever the Internet has become in this future time) plays an interesting role, in that various powers use it to spread information and disinformation in the growing war. I really liked that the heroine was a librarian, so her knowledge of how to find information and act on it made her critical to the humans' survival.
54 years old, blue collar worker, I like imported beer, when it is not hay fever season. Favorite authors; Card, King, Hobb, Koontz, Clarke, Iggulden, Silverberg, Michener, Krakauer
I am coming to the conclusion that Space Opera is not for me. This is about my fourth space opera by the fourth author and I have yet to really like any of them. This started out really great, through the first six chapters I thought I was really going to enjoy the book. It had a fast start with some really cool things happening. Then it went to drool slow moving, I don't care, I am confused, just like that. I stuck it out through 27 chapters. At about the 18th chapter I was looking for a gun to put myself out of my misery.
Space Opera seems to be like Soap Opera, watch on Monday and Friday, skip through the week cause nothing new is going to happen. There are too many good books out there for me to beating myself in the head waiting on something to happen that I care about.
Narrator was good, although he made all aliens sound cartoonish. I don't know if that was the right thing to do or not.
I liked the aliens. The pack people/animals reminded me of the aliens in Robert Reed's "Beyond the Veil of Stars" or the swamp like creature in Clarke's "The City and The Stars", both great books.
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.
It isn't often that I encounter a scifi book with entirely novel ideas, but Vernon Vinge seems to have imagined a universe that is truly unique. The setting, plot, and characters converge to create an all-engulfing experience that took me out of this world and into another. It's an adventure worth taking.
There is a reason that this book is considered to be one of the top 100 scifi books of all time.
I'm an aspiring author, a lawyer, a sci-fi fan, a father, and a harsh critic of pretty much everything. I enjoy audiobooks because I read very slowly, and audiobooks allow me to consume novels at a rate that would be impossible for me to achieve with printed text.
There were a number of extremely creative and intelligent ideas about the future in this tale... but the author failed to make me care about any of the characters. The result is a book with a ton of brains but no heart.
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