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A Fire Upon The Deep Paperback – Aug 16 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (Aug. 16 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329820
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.1 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #139,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 17 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The plot reads like standard space opera. A spaceship crashes on a pre-technological planet and the survivors encounter the natives, with their unique culture and physiology. Rescuers are on the way, but must find their way through hostile aliens and a galaxy-wide crisis of staggering import. Somehow, many pages later, it all works out.

The writing is good, the characters likeable and memorable. The action varies, alternating tense confrontations and wrenching surprises with restful, character-developing discussions. The real strengths of this book, however, are the cleverly-conceived big ideas. Three examples:

Big Idea #1 -- Our galaxy is somehow segregated into "zones of thought." In the central "unthinking depths," intelligence and technological complexity is limited by the very fabric of space. In the "Transcend" on the outer edges, whole societies have sublimed beyond our understanding and virtually disappeared. Except for when they revisit lower realms with devastating results. Imagine how space travel, technology and our humanity itself would subtly change as we traveled between these zones.

Big Idea #2 -- An alien that has one consciousness distributed across half a dozen or so physical bodies--a pack of wolves with one shared mind. The pack members communicate with short-range sonar. Imagine the confusion when two packs mingle together. Imagine the personality changes when a single member dies or two packs shuffle members. Imagine an entire culture of these aliens encountering human beings.

Big Idea #3 -- A galaxy-wide internet where an almost-unimaginable variety of alien cultures talk to and about each other. What information would be shared and how might it be misunderstood? Who can be believed? Trusted?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Scrimshaw on Oct. 13 2013
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
I like my sci-fi to fill me with a sense of wonder and this book delivered. The vastness of space. Weird ideas. Completely different aliens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dana on Jan. 7 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this shortly after "A Deepness In The Sky", its 'prequel'. (A note: except for the character of Pham Nuwen there is no connection between the two books; this is neither a praise, nor a critique; simply an information which might be useful if you are looking for any connection between the two.)
The style is very similar: two different and initially completely distinct threads of action, one involving humans and one aliens, come together slowly to a common conclusion.
One thread involves two humans (well, one not-so-human: an 'evolved' Pham Nuwen from Deepness) and a pair of aliens on a desperate quest: an all-powerful evil force is rapidly taking over parts of the galaxy and the only possible solution is aboard a ship crashed on a medieval world at the other end of the known space.
The other thread takes place on the medieval world and involves two children survivors of the crashed ship and the local intelligent race, dog-like creatures who are only able to achieve consciousness in packs.
I found the ideas in this book to be wonderful.
The description of the pack intelligence of the dog race was completely new to me; perhaps it has been used before, but not to my knowledge (there is a short note somewhere on the first pages about a short story by somebody else who used the same idea). The possibilities deriving from this kind of civilizations are many, and the author explores them to the reader's complete satisfaction: partial awareness of one's self, what happens when only part of an individual survives, the nature of the soul, how the memories and personality of each individual play a distinct role.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John D. Costanzo on Oct. 9 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a great science fiction novel. It is a story about a "virus" that infects the galaxy and the quest to retrieve the "antidote". But there is so much more to this epic. There is a deep space setting, and a setting on a primitive world inhabited by packs of sentient, dog like creatures. Vinge expertly plots the story and brings the two worlds together in grand style. It is a long book, but it is well paced and suspenseful most of the way. The characters, both human and alien, are convincing. An amazing trip through the deepest reaches of the galaxy, I consider this one of the top sci-fi novels of the past decade. Like all great science fiction, it stretches your imagination to the limit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Groves on Nov. 24 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The overly enthusiastic hype for this book almost spoiled my enjoyment of it. It is not great, but great science fiction (i.e.- Hyperion by Dan Simmons) is very hard to come by these days. A Fire Upon the Deep is good, with enough thought provoking, creative aliens, new concepts in astrophysics and stimulating plot twists and dialogue to carry you into a few late night reading sessions. Several glaring inconsistencies in the behavior of the main characters mar, but do not destroy the credibility of the plot. Some fundamental questions remain painfully unanswered. But, overall a fine read. Space opera lives.
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By Fx3 on July 7 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is full of striking and original ideas. The pack minds, the transcend, the galaxy wide news net, etc. provide a very entertaining background for a story that remains exciting throughout the entire book. "A Fire Upon The Deep" is a fine example of "light" science fiction that is well worth a read. However, bear in mind that the book is certainly not a masterpiece. Do not expect much depth in the characters, or a carefully crafted story that fully exploits the setup. If you do, this book will be a disappointment.
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