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A Fire upon the Deep (1992)

de Vernor Vinge

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

Sèrie: Zones of Thought (2)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
5,7441241,444 (4.1)3 / 211
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.… (més)
  1. 60
    Revelation Space de Alastair Reynolds (voodoochilli)
  2. 30
    Blindsight de Peter Watts (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Excellent hard sci-fi which contains concepts which will challenge your mind.
  3. 30
    A Deepness in the Sky de Vernor Vinge (timspalding)
    timspalding: Both are fantastic books.
  4. 20
    House of Suns de Alastair Reynolds (junkblocker)
  5. 21
    Pandora's Star de 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 de Ann Leckie (electronicmemory)
  7. 00
    Lifelode de 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 de Charles Stross (ahstrick)
  9. 33
    The Mote in God's Eye de Larry Niven (tcgardner)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 123 (següent | mostra-les totes)
review of
Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 15-16, 2019

I've only read & reviewed one other Vinge bk, The Peace War (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/19586411 ), wch I enjoyed. I must not've liked it that much, tho, b/c I didn't read this 2nd one until 11 yrs later. The plot begins:

"But the local net at the High Lab had transcended—almost without the humans realizing."

[..]

"It had been six months since resupply. A safety precaution early suggested by the archive, a ruse to enable the Trap. Flitting, flitting. We are wildlife that must not be noticed by the overness, by the Power that soon will be. On some nodes they shrank to smallness and almost remembered humanity, became echoes. . . ." - p 2

"The newborn looked across the stars, planning. This time things will be different." - p 7

The scale is magnificent, the atmosphere hard to get a human handle on.

"Peregrine moved up another thirty yards, keeping a lookout in all directions. He could see the straits now, gleaming rough silver in the afternoon sunlight. Behind him, the north side of the valley was lost in shadow. He sent one member ahead, skittering between the hummocks to look down on the plain where the star had landed." - p 21

What the reader sometimes experiences is humans described by non-humans.

"There were four legs per member, but it walked on its rear legs only. What a clown! Yet . . . it used its front paws for holding things. Not once did he see it use a mouth; he doubted if the flat jaws could get a good hold, anyway. Those forepaws were wonderfully agile. A single member could easily use tools." - p 28

Humans are, well, a minority — not necessarily a popular minority.

"["]We're at the limits of information management with this expansion. Egravan and Derche—" those were Ravna's boss and boss's boss "—are quite happy with your progress. You came well educated, and learned fast. I think there's a place for humans in the Organization."" - p 57

The Organization being a type of desert popular w/ many types of non-humans.

""Then you know that an archive is a fundamentally vaster thing than the database on a conventional local net. For practical purposes, the big ones can't even be duplicated. The major archives go back millions of years, have been maintained by hundreds of different races—most now extinct or Transcended into Powers. Even the archive at Relay is a jumble, so huge that indexing systems are laid on top of indexing systems." - p 82

I'll never forget when the being that looked like Swiss Cheese was teleporting the aRCHIVE I manage to me sd to me just before it had its holes filled & it melted: "They'll never suspect a desert ingredient!"

& just when its surface was brown & bubbling an unexpected communication came w/ a pop:

""There is one other thing, my lord. Jefri thinks it may be possible to use the ship's ultrawave to call for help from others like his parents."" - - p 146

""Oh, that's okay. He meant a special call. Jefri says the ship has been signalling . . . all by itself . . . ever since it landed."" - p 147

Oh, the parents just set the microwave to infinity before they got cooked themselves. Well, if you believe that you'll believe the next one too.

"They had picked up the refugee ship's "I-am-here," and then—ninety days later—a message from a human survivor, Jefri Olnsdot. Barely forty messages had been exchanged, but enough to learn about the Tines and Mr. Steel and the evil Woodcarvers." - p 169

Ah ha! But had they subjected those messages to the Turnovers Test? Maybe the Woodcarvers were really a Waffle Iron!

"And some messages were patent nonsense. One thing about the Net: the multiple, automatic translations often disguised the fundamental alienness of participants. Behind the chatty, colloquial postings, there were faraway realms, so misted by distance and difference that communication was impossible—even though it might take a while to realize that fact." - p 226

Eventually humans get blamed for everything & things start to get hot for them.

"Don't be fooled by humans telling you about themselves! In fact, we have no way of testing the creatures that dwell in Straumli Realm; their protector will see to that.

"Death to vermin." - p 249

Eventually, there's a character who starts seeing thru the lies & the reader gets to release a huge sigh of gas.

""No . . . no, it's not that. I think this 'Mister Steel' is playing games with our heads. All we have is a byte stream from 'Jefri.' What do we really know about what's going on?"" - p 302

It's somewhat like your situation vis à vis this reviewer. I might be some sort of avatar for a non-human entity of dubious motives. How do you know? What cd be my motive for misleading you about this bk? Maybe you'll buy the edition of it that looks just like a paperback but is really a pleasure-creature from Gas Cloud X. The next thing you know, some gas bags are threatening you w/ indigestion.

""We sent them a description of our" digestive needs "hours ago. Why should it take so long for a simple yes or no?"

""Because they're haggling," said Pham, his grin broadening. "'Honest' Saint Rihndell here—" he waved at the scrimshawed local, "—wants to convince us just how hard the job is. . . . Lord, I wish I was out there."" - p 316

There's only one way out.

"["]I know how these mantises think. If you can kill the child, especially before their eyes, it will break their spirit—just as puppies can be broken by the right terrors."" - p 554

Sheesh. All I wanted was some fucking desert. Now, if only I can get out of this novel w/o paying.

"The sunlight was fading. He could see black dots on the surface. Sunspots. He had seen them often enough with Scriber's telescopes. But that had been through heavy filters. Something stood between him and the sun, something that sucked away its light and warmth." - p 580

"Pham answered. "That's temporary. Something has to power this maneuver."" - p 581

Wham, bam, Thank you, Pham.

"They sat for a time, human looking out to see, Rider looking he wasn't sure quite where, and pack looking in most all directions. . . . There was peace here, even with (or because of?) the booming surf and the haze of spray. He felt his hearts slowing, and just lazed in the sunlight." - p 599

Oh, don't mind me, I'm just waiting for the bus. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Rambling. Hard to care about any of the characters. SF for people who want to argue about relativity. ( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
I listened to this on audiobook for a long car ride this holiday. It helped pass the time, but upon reflection, I didn't really like it.

Half of the book is essentially a "first contact" story, where a family of humans crash land on a planet of wolf-like aliens and get wrapped up in their politics. While these aliens, the "tines" as they come to be known, have a pretty interesting concept to them, I feel like that's about all the story has going for it.

The other half of the narrative is how some humans accidentally awakened an evil, long-dormant AI, aka "the Blight," which proceeds to turn everyone around it into its mind controlled slaves and wreak havoc on the galaxy. Another group of characters is dispatched to the tines' world both to rescue the stranded humans and to retrieve the macguffin they were carrying, which is the only thing that can stop the Blight.

There were a couple of reasons why I didn't like this book. First of all, the central idea of the story, that there are different zones of the galaxy where certain technologies and levels of AI sophistication are possible, is never really used to its full potential, in my opinion. As the characters travel from "the High Beyond" where FTL and other soft SF technology is possible to the very edge of "the Slowness" where the laws of physics work as we understand them, very little changes. It causes their ship to slow down, and that's about it. It's used to make complications for the "get to the macguffin" plot that could have easily been done with any other kind of techno-babble.

Likewise, the outside of the galaxy, where the highest levels of technology are possible, is called "the Transcend," and is populated by entities that are often referred to as gods. None of them are described or characterized in any detail, and only one has any involvement with the plot. When I think of "gods," I think of Zeus, and Thor, and Ganesh, and what have you. You know, characters, with a distinct personality, interests, and aesthetic. This was also very disappointing.

This lack of description extends to the main antagonist, the Blight. Throughout most of the narrative, it's a distant threat whose deadly behaviors are told, not shown. It also has very little characterization, or any interesting aesthetic.

Lastly, I really didn't like the ending. Ultimate spoiler ahead: the macguffin alters the zones to extend the boundaries of the Slowness, trapping the ships controlled by the Blight thousands of lightyears from anything and unable to use FTL. This also ends up destroying "millions" of civilizations, and stranding all the characters on the tines' backwards Medieval planet with no hope of rescue. A bleak, Pyrrhic victory that the book tries to spin as bittersweet.

So in short, it's just another space opera that doesn't really deliver on the promise of it's central idea. Decent pablum for a long car ride, but not worth the trouble otherwise. ( )
  perrywatson | Jan 6, 2022 |
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday.

Audio Narration
The narrator is Peter Larkin. His style didn’t work well for me. My main issue was with his character voices. There are a lot of alien characters, children, and females. The way he voiced them often came across as cartoonish to my ears. There are also sections of text letters written by anonymous people whose voices we had no way of knowing, and the narrator chose to read those in a harsh, robotic voice, as if a computer were reading them. It really grated on my ears and made it difficult for me to focus on the content.

I should note that this book has a lot of characters. Trying to come up with different voices for all of them would be an enormous challenge. I had some trouble distinguishing between the voices the author used, and it sometimes seemed to me like he used them inconsistently, but the text almost always said who was talking so it was rarely ever confusing.

Story
A Fire Upon the Deep is a pretty intricate book with a lot of interesting ideas and a whole lot going on. I think I would have enjoyed this much more in print. In Audio I do better with simpler stories that I can follow more easily with divided attention. This did not fit that bill. There were parts I really enjoyed, other parts I thought were interesting but difficult to stay focused on well enough to catch all the nuances, and other parts that went straight in one ear and out the other.

The story is set in a distant future in which many different alien species inhabit space, and there are different types of space which affects the capabilities of the species that live there. The book first introduces us to a small group of human scientists and their families as they discover and accidentally wake an ancient evil intelligence called the “blight”. It starts spreading through space and taking control as the book progresses. One ship managed to escape the place where they found the blight, and they make an emergency landing on an alien world nobody is familiar with. Their ship has something aboard that may be a secret weapon against this blight, but the inhabitants of the alien world immediately kill the adults from the ship. Only two children survive, a boy of about 8 and his sister of about 14, not counting a bunch of other children in cold storage who are unconscious. The younger boy is captured by the group that killed his parents, but he doesn’t realize it and thinks they rescued him. The older girl is rescued by another more friendly group but believes her brother is dead.

The alien species, the Tines, was really interesting. They’re a sort of dog-like intelligent race, but as singletons they are capable of little more thought than animals. However, multiple individuals are combined together to form a pack, and they are able to communicate telepathically and they essentially become one creature. The members work together flawlessly, both physically and mentally, to accomplish things they couldn’t do as individuals. I thought all of that was pretty cool, and fun to read about, but I did have complaints. There were too many human-based objects that this culture had somehow developed on its own, without ever having met a human. For example, bows and arrows that required multiple members to operate, when I would expect a species that is so physically different to have developed weapons better suited to their own physical form. Some sort of standing slingshot-type device a single member could grab in their teeth and pull back then release, or something like that. I don’t know what a useful weapon for a dog would be because I’m not a dog. :p (Granted, neither is the author, but I felt like he should have tried to be a little more creative with his creative setting.)

The part on the Tines’ home world was only maybe half of the book. We also followed other characters in other areas of space, but the stories eventually converged. The parts of the story on the Tines’ home world were my favorites, probably because they were the simplest to follow in an audio format, whereas my interest in the other parts fluctuated more.

I’m marking this as a “maybe” for following up in print. I think this might have been a 4 star read, or at least 3.5 stars, if I’d read it in print. I’d enjoy a second chance at it in print so I can properly catch all the things I know I missed and appreciate it better. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it enough to want to read more books in the setting, though. ( )
  YouKneeK | Oct 31, 2021 |
When I first read this book, years ago, I was blown away by the scope of the story and the intricacy and originality of the plot. Reading it again, I'm amazed at how well this book has weathered the years (it was written in 1992). Of the two parallel plot lines, the first time I read it I was more interested in the fate of the two children shipwrecked on the Tines' World among hostile, group-minded aliens and their complex and Machiavellian culture. This time, it was the story of the transcendent Power/Artificial Intelligence that is threatening to destroy the universe, and the small crew of four (one human female, one male human/puppet/zombie, two wagon-mounted kelp-like aliens) who are trying simultaneously to rescue the children and defeat the Power/A.I. Perversion. How these two stories tie together, and the deep history and culture of this far future galactic civilization, is an amazing and satisfying read. ( )
  TheGalaxyGirl | Aug 6, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 123 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
afegit per Aerrin99 | editaNew York Times, Gerald Jonas (May 3, 1992)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (7 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Vernor Vingeautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Frenkel, JamesEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mitchell, ElissaCartographerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Tervaharju, HannuTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Vallejo, BorisAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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To my father, Clarence L. Vinge, with love.
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Wikipedia en anglès

Cap

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.

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