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A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought) Mass Market Paperback – February 15, 1993
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Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unguessable, godlike "Powers." When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilizations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.
Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the doglike aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.
Vinge's climax is suitably mindboggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness. Pham Nuwen also appears in the nifty prequel set 30,000 years earlier, A Deepness in the Sky. Both recommended. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But in addition to its remarkable futuristic world, "A Fire Upon the Deep" also contains an action-packed plot. The author springs a major surprise on you in almost every chapter: characters that you though were good turn out to be traitors and vice versa, certain groups turn out to be more powerful than you thought, etc... The bottom line is that you never know what's going to happen next, and Vinge manages to keep the suspense up throughout the entire book, despite its 613 page length.Read more ›
Vinge is one of those hardworking writers. He is the author of the hard-to-find "True names and other dangers..." which means you can credit him for adding several of the future- or tech-based memes most of us take for granted today.
The ratings for this book waver between 6-10, with a '2' thrown in by some poor fellow. Don't worry about Vernor Vinge's grammatical capabilities -- he writes a mean sentence, and some of the best technical descriptions I've ever read. For a genre which pedestalizes Asimov, who could hardly string 6 words together coherently (guess he was moving too fast), some people are MIGHTY picky!
Also, you won't find the "-oid" syndrome which you get with Bujold, for example, where contemporary items are made to sound science-fictiony just by giving them a new name. You won't read sentences like "He grabbed his key-oids and jumped in his car-oid..."
Vinge's science is deep, and the ramifications of everything from the 'slow zone' to the 'unthinking deeps' to the 'agrav fabric docks' to the hi-tech of the beyond, to the cute extrapolation of an Internet of galactic scope, to the effect of radio upon the Tines (a sophont race), to the matter-of-fact acceptance of racial senescence... all of these things are well thought out and brilliantly presented.Read more ›
The meat of the book takes place in three locations: 2 of which are on a "medieval" world with an amazing race and the other is in the greater galaxy. There are subtle but distinct parallels between the good/evil battle on this planet and the one waging in the galaxy. Both contain complex and engaging characters and races.
The book becomes harder to put down as the characters in these three locations move together, eventually occupying the same space. Like three volatile chemicals coming together, you know it's going to be big!
A Fire Upon the Deep is a wonderful read for fans of "hard" science fiction. Vinge brings so much into it: the physics, races, and technology of hard sci-fi; the history, conspiracy, and duplicity of a political thriller; the excitement and passion of a great war novel; and even a little romance and weightless space-sex!
I strongly recommend it to fans of Larry Niven and Arthur C. Clarke.
This read is not like a "York Peppermint Patty" commercial. I never got the sensation of "driving those huskies across the frozen tundra!" No. This read was more like "slogging through the jungle underbrush with nothing but a machete and a heavy pack." It's like reading Hamlet when you're not that crazy about Shakespeare. (By the way, I LOVE Shakespeare, but that's something that came over time). While reading "Fire" I got the idea that this was a great and important book but perhaps wasn't my type of book.
Try as I might, I couldn't give a rip about the dog packs. Each pack is a character with sub-character individuals acting as only part of the whole pack. If a pack member dies, the pack will accept a new member into its character. The pack "character" is a little too fluid in this case to effectively sink into a reader's psyche. It is appropriately "alien" to the reader and the gap is never fully bridged from familiar to alien.
The kid characters living with the alien dogs have child-like personalities and so are appropriately 2 dimensional.
The most interesting conflict is between the main female character, Ravna, who is racing to save the children and thwart the evil Power and a resurrected Asian scoundrel, Pham, who has an affair with Ravna and who surreptitiously is acting as a Power's spy. Unfortunately, this conflict is in the back seat of the plot and is revealed in the first half of the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a bit in the classic Larry Niven vein; it very much feels like a real universe with only a few key differences from ours, and those differences are explained and... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Adam We
One of the best science fiction novels I have ever read. A compelling story set in a captivating world that had me completely enthralled and left me craving a sequel.Published 8 days ago by Cody Hinchliff
I really loved this book. It was disorienting at first, but once I got a sense of the universe, I couldn't put it down.Published 25 days ago by DJS
A more hard-core sci-fi, you will quickly be confused by the terms and conditions the characters find themselves in. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Raes
My first experience with Vernor Vinge was his excellent "A Deepness in the Sky", which I devoured eagerly. Unfortunately, I did not find Fire to be equal to Deepness. Read morePublished 1 month ago by SunRaven01
I think about half the adjectives I know apply to this book. All of the positive ones. I found it for a dollar and, having finished it and its scenes still echoing in my daydreams... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Matt L
Interesting ideas in a straight jacket of no strong male charecters and all women feminist plotlines. Gets triesome enough and the aline gimmick is to me silly. Read morePublished 1 month ago
Out of all the sci-fi I've ever read, I think this book takes the top spot. It introduced endless unique ideas that challenged my thoughts about reality itself, the plot was... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anthony