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Alternate Cover Edition Can Be Found HereA 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 ScaleThousands 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 IntelligenceFleeing 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 I tried very hard to like A Fire Upon the Deep The reviews for it are stellar, and it did won a Hugo Also, I am a huge fan of SF, so I felt this book would be a sure fire hit with me Not so.As other reviewers pointed out, this book has some great ideas Pack sentience is very nice, and the idea of zones is intriguing Unfortunately, all these are wrapped in very shoddy writing To tell the truth, the writing was barely above fan sci fi in some places.The characterization is also, most unfortunately, pretty bad The Tine race is filled with potential, but the Tine characters are nothing than stereotypes the wanderer, the wise queen, the evil lord, the evil adviser, the betrayer Human characters are predictable to the point of being boring, and their motivations serve the plot than any sort of coherence As a whole, the race is strangely Western european , despite their uniqueness Also, as interesting as they were, I don t think they deserved that much of a treatment.One major source of disappointment for me, also, was the way the Galactic net was portrayed I m aware the novel was written in 1993, but Vinge s depiction lacks any kind of vision whatsoever It s silly to see the whole Galaxy chattering on newsgroups and sending each other emails Not once did it try to be something else than the 1993 s Internet surimposed on a galactic scale, and it was a gimmick than anything else.On a whole, the story has ambitions of grandeur, but fails at articulating it The events are always portrayed vaguely and don t have resonance In one scene, a character learns billions have died when her homeworld was devastated, yet this event only serves as a setup for the personal drama of the characters Most of the story happens either among 5 6 individuals on the Tine world, or within the closed confines of the ship, and neither progress at a pace that would be satisfying.There are some great ideas in this book, but they re buried under a nonsensical plot that fails to impress Because of this, it has neither the scope nor the emotional impact of, say, Frank Herbert s Dune or Peter Hamilton s Night s Dawn trilogy.Finishing the book was a difficult endeavour, and I will NOT pick up the prequel Phan Newen is far from being interesting enough a character to make me pick it up. CryptoSyntax81 As received byGR ServerFarm NW Language pathStream of Consciousness Babble Poorly Considered Argument LOLcats Goodreads In jokes Only Funny to Me Irony English FromJoeleoj A known Goodreads reviewer of Midwesten US origin Extensive priors before this review began Appears aligned with the Hipster Coalition but has denied close ties Program recommendation Imagine this post being read in a tone of self satisfied ironic detachment SubjectBooks to talk about with my wife when she can t fall asleep Distribution Space Opera, WorthwhileNeat AliensBigNerds Special Interest Group Date4.5 days before the Fall of BookSwap Key phrasesMind Bending Galactic Scope, Smooth World Building, Bogs Down in the Middle, Characters are kind of flat, Telepathic puppy aliens Text of messageSpace is really, really, really big You think you know this, but you don t Like, you have probably heard before that something like one million Earths would fit inside the sun Wow, you think Big Kind of makes you feel insignificant, right But a million, that s not that many Even Rebecca Black probably sold a million downloads of that terrible days of the week song for toddlers.How about VY Canis Majoris It s what s called a hypergiant star How big is that About 1.7 trillion times larger than the Earth My computer s calculator started showing me letters when I tried to figure out how many Earths would fit inside VY Canis Majoris.These incomprehensibly massive objects are just pinpricks in the overall vastness of space I can t comprehend infinity, but I can t comprehend that either.Vernor Vinge has a fun time imagining it though, trying to divine what the interaction of sentient societies would look like when spread across such vast distances Answer Kind of like newsgroups from 1993 But this is just the account we re reading, which, it seems, comes from races as diverse as super intelligent plants and floating magellanic clouds It has all been translated into something resembling English, admittedly rough approximations at times Because why would I have anything in common with someone from a billion light years away I don t have anything in common with my co workers.I also really dig the way Vinge divides the universe into Zones of Thought, so technology gets advanced as do the beings that operate it the further you get from the center as you might guess, Earth is in the Slow Zones Mostly this provides an engine for the plot, but it s one of those ideas so mind burstingly big that you can t really get a grip on it If the transcendent, godlike beings on the periphery of this system are beholden to it, then what intelligence originally created it And how do they get their computer network to operate so efficiently, because I keep having to unplug my modem Cool ideas Cool, cool, cool I didn t even mention the race of hive minded puppy people that play a key role in the narrative one puppy alone is dumb, but four or six in a bunch can act as a single consciousness Is good, because it makes up for the ever so slightly leaden narrative, which is a bit thin for a 600 pager Basically, a team of human scientists awaken a malevolent A.I somewhere in space it goes berserk and begins chowing down on entire star systems star systems, people A few scientists escape and crash land on Planet Puppies Word spreads that the crashed ship holds the only secret to stopping the vaguely described villain thingy, so some stock but loveable heroes quest off to get it Half the book elaborately sketches out what a society of hive minds would look like ADORABLE the other is a tense and then for a while, not so tense, and then tense again chase sequence It s pretty fun.This is a densely written but still perfectly understandable SF novel, but it does presume a certain familiarity and comfort with the genre, so I wouldn t start my reading here I know I tried it about five years ago and didn t even make it through the prologue The book was too big to fit inside me head Now it s bigger. I want to make it clear that I don t lightly write rave reviews Please read the following sentence twice This is an absolutely fantastic book.On the outskirts of the Galaxy, far from the physical constraints of the Galactic core, faster than light travel is possible, and Transcended intelligences flourish to a complexity that dwarfs human comprehension Scavenging for buried knowledge on a dead world, a party of humans awakes an ancient evil an archive containing an entity so powerful and so malign that it begins to sweep across the galaxy, overwhelming even the godlike Powers of the Transcend.Some of the humans escape towards the galactic plane, bearing a little understood cargo that represents the galaxy s only possible weapon against the Blight They crash land on an alien world, leaving only two survivors, both of them children who are promptly snatched by opposing alien factions But the aliens low tech society is promptly and drastically destabilised by the humans technology, leaving the children struggling for survival while a rescue mission tears across the galaxy towards them, harried and pursued by everything the Blight can throw on their trail.This book has everything Wild adventure, colossal scale, soaring imagination, searing insight, deep characterisation, brilliant plotting, profound suspense, complex and cunningly realised aliens and, most of all, an astonishing richness of that special quality of science fiction, which is the speculative investigation of other worlds, other intelligences, whole other ways of being.It s not perfect If you re a hard sci fi buff like me, then it seems convenient not only that the alien biosphere will support human life, but that the aliens themselves are mentally compatible with humans And for a Transcended being whose intelligence is to humans as humans are to microbes, the Blight seems remarkably well, human in its motivations But, frankly, Vinge is forgiven these devices to make his plot work For a book this good, I could forgive just about anything. This is an impressive work of hard science fiction I admire the author s creation and the writing is decent if not riveting.I enjoyed the story of the Tines, aliens with pack minds, and I came to like the concept of the zones of thought , where different levels of technology are possible in different areas of the galaxy.But I found myself indifferent to the rest of the characters The enemy they called the Blight seemed ominous only in the prologue for the rest of the book it was kept at such a distance that I never felt truly worried about it The Tines character Steel was a sinister villain.The book was long, yet the plot seemed shallow and there was little character development except on the planet of the Tines I m already having trouble remembering why it took so many pages to tell this story.