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A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Vernor Vinge (Author)

Series: Zones of Thought (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4541421,525 (4.1)3 / 240
In this popular and widely praised novel, a rescue mission races against time to save a pair of human children being held captive by a medieval lupine race-and to recover the weapon that will keep the universe from being changed forever.
Title:A Fire Upon the Deep
Authors:Vernor Vinge (Author)
Info:Tor Books (1993), Edition: Fifth or Later Edition
Collections:Your library

Work Information

A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (1992)

  1. 60
    Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (voodoochilli)
  2. 30
    Blindsight by Peter Watts (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Excellent hard sci-fi which contains concepts which will challenge your mind.
  3. 41
    A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (timspalding)
    timspalding: Both are fantastic books.
  4. 20
    House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (junkblocker)
  5. 20
    Lifelode by Jo Walton (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: What if the zones of thought were within walking distance of each other? Gods live in the East, time passes at a rapid rate in the West, and a stranger from each direction comes to the manor of Applekirk in the Marches between them.
  6. 43
    The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven (tcgardner)
  7. 10
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (ahstrick)
  8. 21
    Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton (orange_epsilon)
    orange_epsilon: If you like reading about space travel and alien cultures, then this is the book for you.
  9. 10
    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (electronicmemory)

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» See also 240 mentions

English (134)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Extraordinary. The first two books of Vernor Vinge are among the best 10 Sci-Fi books ever writen. I cannot decide which part I like better... The part of the story in the Beyond, with its mindblowing physics, or the story with the Tines and its mindblowing social structure.
( )
  cdagulleiro | Jul 3, 2024 |
Oooh boy.
I went into this one with a lot of expectations. It came highly recommended by one of my favorite booktubers and it sat in my to-read shortlist for a few months, during which I probably built it up in my head.
First of all, Vernor Vinge is certainly an accomplished sci-fi author, and he deserves all the praise bestowed upon him by the sci-fi community. I heard that he passed away 3 days ago. RIP.
The author exhibits incredible capabilities when it comes to worldbuilding, describing the fascinating inner workings of alien societies and physiology, coming up with concepts and rules of the world, and all the other things that make or break a good hard sci-fi novel.
There are concepts in this book that I've never come across anywhere else in my long journey through the genre, like the best-ever description of the hive mind, the idea of the Zones that regulate the natural laws in the Galaxy, etc.
However, despite all these positives, I didn't enjoy the read all that much. It is usually a given that the sci-fi novel doesn't have to feature high-quality prose or character-driven stories, but even with that in mind, this book was hard to read. I didn't relate to any of the characters and didn't care about them because none of them felt real. The Tine creatures were written especially cartoonishly. You have your "evil villain", "loyal brave friend", "adventurous hero" and "wise mentor".
The author likes using ellipses a lot, to the point that it gets annoying. Another thing I didn't like was one-word sentences to describe actions or emotions, like, instead of saying "She laughed", it's "Laughter."; "It confused him" - "Confusion."
There is a lot of repetition. For instance, we read how character A learns about X. Then character A tells character B about X. And we read the full description of X again. Then we are in character B's perspective and we read something like, "B thought about the conversation with A. A told him that X works in this and that way..." and there is another full description of X.
In short, the story is grand and epic and all, but the writing is not on a level to support such a great ambitious vision. I won't be reading the sequel. ( )
1 vote AsimGasimzade | Apr 4, 2024 |

I loved the first 4 or 500 pages of this book, especially the big ideas: zones of thought, transcendence, FTL travel, AI, etc. Unlike some, I was somewhat disappointed in the conclusion. Part of it was that the whole dog race thing just didn't work for me, not sure why. I also had a hard time rooting for Jefri. I loved the skroderiders.

I'm still wanting to read the sequel because the book felt very unfinished to me, as I suppose it was meant to do. However, next on the pile is the conclusion to the Hyperion series, which is in my view a better written series. ( )
  roguelike | Feb 4, 2024 |
Good pulpy hard sci-fi. ( )
  audient_void | Jan 28, 2024 |
Story: 8 / 10
Characters: 10
Setting: 10
Prose: 8.5

Original review from 2013:
Profound. Definitely one of the best scifi books I have come across. The real key is the character design of the Tines and the setting, namely the "Zones of Thought". A Tine is a small group of separate entities with a local-based collective intelligence. Never come across another character like it, though there are not really that many collective intellect characters around. The Zones is a theoretical universe framework addressing both technology and intelligence. Everyone about the book was strong, but these two elements are especially unique.
Looking forward to reading the rest. ( )
1 vote MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Mr. Vinge writes what might be called thoughtful space opera. His setting is nothing less than the galaxy we call the Milky Way. I don't mean that he simply lets loose a few spaceships and has them chase one another among the stars to act out another old-fashioned shoot-'em-up plot. The human and nonhuman characters of "A Fire Upon the Deep" live in a complex galactic society that Mr. Vinge has worked out in admirable if economical detail, and the scope of his story is such that it requires just a background.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vernor Vingeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frenkel, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, ElissaCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tervaharju, HannuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallejo, BorisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my father, Clarence L. Vinge, with love.
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How to explain? How to describe? Even the omniscient viewpoint quails.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


In this popular and widely praised novel, a rescue mission races against time to save a pair of human children being held captive by a medieval lupine race-and to recover the weapon that will keep the universe from being changed forever.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.

A Fire Upon The Deep is the winner of the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Haiku summary
Galaxy's at risk.
And you thought SkyNet was bad.
Kill all the AIs.
Evil shows its face.
God-in-man is here to help.
Let's hope this thing works.
Race to the bottom.
Crashed ship holds key to rescue.
Will we make it there?

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