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A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought) by…

A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought) (edition 1993)

by Vernor Vinge

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,9921061,426 (4.11)3 / 187
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.… (more)
Title:A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought)
Authors:Vernor Vinge
Info:Tor Science Fiction (1993), Mass Market Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (Author)

  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. 30
    A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (timspalding)
    timspalding: Both are fantastic books.
  4. 20
    House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (junkblocker)
  5. 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.
  6. 00
    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (electronicmemory)
  7. 00
    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.
  8. 00
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (ahstrick)
  9. 33
    The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven (tcgardner)

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English (100)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
I enjoyed the story, but the best aspects of the book for me were not plot or characterization but really creative structural elements/plot devices.

Vinge depicts different types of non-human intelligence in a really thought-provoking way: e.g., the Tines, dog-like animals who have human or greater than human intelligence when gathered in packs; the Skroderiders, plant-like creatures who become intelligent when paired with carts that some being had created for them billions of years ago; and beings of nearly god-like intelligence created by evolving computer networks, etc.. He also comes up with interesting astronomy by splitting the galaxy up into zones in which physics is differentiated, so that it's possible for certain creatures to travel at beyond light speed and become advanced, and for others to be trapped in zones of slowness (like Earth).

I become interested in reading Vinge when I learned that he was one of the first to conceptualize the Singularity -- a hypothetical point, named by futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil, when technological progress becomes so rapid that it makes the future after the Singularity qualitatively different and harder to predict. That sounds kooky, but there is now a Singularity University near the Google campus, where VC's and engineers can learn about the technologies that will bring out the Singularity.

This novel may be a tiny bit clunky in parts, but it's very imaginative fiction by a computer science professor who is a reasonably deep thinker. ( )
1 vote GCMarshallJr. | Oct 29, 2019 |
True Science Fiction. I was overwhelmed by the originality and creativity of the Skroderiders and the Tines. I often had to change my way of reading, and thinking, in order to understand what was going on. I think I missed on some of the details, but really enjoyed the overall story - in a lesser author's hands, this book would be a complete disaster. The prediction of the internet (usenet, whatever) is really evident here and I loved reading all the different messages that planets/races were sending each other about the Blight.

It's such a weird mish mash of ideas that I don't think it *all* comes together, I had a hard time identifying or really loving any specific individual character, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts and it's a fantastic, if flawed, fictional adventure. ( )
  hskey | Oct 19, 2019 |
Perhaps a 3.5* I struggled to get into this one a bit. Bought it in 1993. So that is 25 years to read! Oops. ( )
  PhilOnTheHill | Sep 8, 2019 |
Definitely in my list of top series of Sci Fi. Well, so far. Unfortunately, there's at least one more book coming in this series, and it takes him a long time to release them, so I'll be waiting a long time to pick that one up.

This series has a lot going for it. I read this one first, then what's listed as #3 (The Children of the Sky), which follows this book in time order, and then read #2 (A Deepness in the Sky), which is set far before either of these. That was fine. Deepness can be read as a standalone book at any point, though just for some of the plot twists in Fire, I'd recommend not reading Deepness as the first book you read in this series.

This is hard Sci Fi with a spin, and massive, far reaching scales of thought, time, and space, all wrapped around very human experiences of this amount of vastness. ( )
  Mactastik | Sep 4, 2019 |
In the far future, the universe is divided into Thought Zones, and one's level of intelligence depends on where in those zones you are. When the Straumli unwittingly (sort of) unleash a big-brained Thing, stuff goes really, really wrong. And then there's two or three other story lines on other worlds, but I'm not gonna try to summarize those, because I really didn't like it enough to bother. Big ol' space operas just generally aren't my jam, I guess. The few that I've enjoyed have been so fabulously written that I didn't mind that they're spacey. This one does what annoys me most about the genre: it takes way too much time describing in a level of detail that makes my eyes cross just How Things Work. Generally I don't care How Things Work; I just want to know what the characters are doing within a world that just works without me knowing HOW it works. *sigh* ( )
  electrascaife | Jul 15, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vinge, VernorAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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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