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A Fire Upon the Deep Audiobook

A Fire Upon the Deep

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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

4.2 (1293 )
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4.1 (1064 )
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Story
4.2 (1053 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Rob E. 01-24-15
    Rob E. 01-24-15 Member Since 2017
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    "A Fun Jaunt"

    great story with rich characters. the ending is weaker than expected and Pham much less of an engaging character than in Deepness in the Sky.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Williams Arkansas USA 12-28-14
    C. Williams Arkansas USA 12-28-14 Member Since 2012

    Reader

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    "Good Story Torn apart by bad narration"

    The story and premise are really good, but god that narration. The cartoonish voices have been frequently mentioned but what really got me was how congested the narrator sounded. It's like he had a really bad cold or flu and they decided to record anyway. I couldn't finish i'll have to get a hard copy of the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Farrell 10-16-14
    Farrell 10-16-14

    Sci-fi, detective, cozy. Only give 5s to those books I think stand above the rest. 4 is a good solid book. 3 is average, nothing special.

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    "Hard to get into"

    The story is a bit hard to get a handle on for the first quarter of the book. After that it gets a bit smoother. The end is OK but is a bit too convenient.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric York, PA, United States 09-04-14
    Eric York, PA, United States 09-04-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Wierd but not in a good way..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    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. <br/>SPOILER ALERT: I hate when a book ends with a super powerful unexplained phenomenon.


    Has A Fire Upon the Deep turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Nope. Still love my scifi and fantasy.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    I have to say I was entertained but I would not continue with this series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C.B.E. 08-07-14
    C.B.E. 08-07-14

    Claywise

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    "Not my cup of tea"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Bell 06-14-14
    J. Bell 06-14-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Wow, didn't see that coming!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Vernor Vinge again?

    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.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Peter Larkin?

    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.


    What character would you cut from A Fire Upon the Deep?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tarsik 09-20-13
    Tarsik 09-20-13

    tarasiv2

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I guess it is not for me"
    Would you try another book from Vernor Vinge and/or Peter Larkin?

    Possibly later


    Would you ever listen to anything by Vernor Vinge again?

    Don't know


    Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Larkin’s performances?

    Not now


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Very unusual entourage and interesting story.


    Any additional comments?

    Just not my cup of tea...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 07-02-13
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 07-02-13 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "Classic post-Internet space opera"

    A Fire Upon the Deep was a favorite of mine after I first read it years ago, and it still holds up pretty well after a second visit, this time in audio. Vinge is a former computer science professor turned writer, and the guy responsible for popularizing the concept of a technological singularity. In the galaxy he imagines here, such singularities have been occurring for eons, technological races or their constructs transcending into godlike artificial minds. However, in this universe, there's a catch: faster-than-light travel and communication only work beyond a certain distance from the galactic core. Thus, the outer darkness is home to unimaginably advanced beings, while the inner "slow zone" protects newly-started civilizations from interference from above. In the jostling middle known as "The Beyond" lives everyone else, including humans, connected by a vast and ancient galactic internet (as envisioned from 1992, when it was still the age of newsgroups and slow image uploads).

    Vinge isn't a fantastic writer, but he makes up for it with some imaginative, insightful ideas for alien races. There’s a race of sapient plants that travel about in cybernetic carts and a species of dog-like beings that are intelligent only when composed into small packs, whose members share a single mind. The latter, called Tines, are important characters in the book, and live on a medieval-level world.

    Unlike some space opera, the plot here is well-constructed, comprehensible, and fun. After a contingent of humans awaken an ancient power lying dormant in the ruins of a long-gone civilization, they are killed off, except for a few survivors that manage to escape to Tines World. There, further disaster occurs, and two children, the last remnants of the crew, end up in the hands (well, mouths) of two different political factions, one with a more ruthless agenda for the captured spacecraft and its technology. Meanwhile, the newly awakened monstrosity begins to rampage through its region of the galaxy, conquering nearby worlds and instilling panic that, distorted by internet message boards (plenty of prescience there), gives rise to other horrors. Another group of characters, a motley crew consisting of a librarian, a long-frozen adventurer from the distant past, and two of the sapient plant beings, stumbles on the realization, unsuspected by anyone else, that the lost ship on Tines World may hold the key to saving the galaxy. From there unfolds a gripping plot, with many twists and turns.

    On my second read, I still enjoyed the humor and warmth Vinge brings to his characterizations, and the way he makes the Tines sympathetic to the reader, turning their initially bizarre pack minds into something that feels very familiar by the end of the book. There are goofy sidekicks, brave heroes, and villains that are dangerous, cunning, and manipulative. While there could have been a firmer ending to the larger plot (Vinge came back two decades later to write a sequel), I thought the personal stories concluded satisfyingly enough. Peter Larkin’s audiobook reading may have made some of the characters a little more “cute” than I originally saw them, but it wasn’t enough to bother me and he did a decent job otherwise.

    Given the explosion of harder-edged techno-space opera since 2000 or so, Vinge's ideas might not seem as novel as they once did, but I think there's still a charm to his fanciful-but-smart universe-building, his experimentation with unusual alien physiologies, and his familiar characters. Depending on your tastes, this might be a friendlier entrée into the subgenre than Reynolds, Banks, Hamilton, Stross, etc. The other classic book of his that gets a lot of attention is A Deepness in the Sky, which I didn’t think was quite as good as Fire, but it has lots of fans, too, and is worth checking out.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 04-08-12
    Paul 04-08-12 Member Since 2015

    Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)

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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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin United States 10-24-11
    Justin United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2012
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    "Almost awesome."

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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