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A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought #1)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  27,713 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews
In 1992 Vernor Vinge amazed the science fiction world with this epic novel of star-spanning adventure. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and has since become a landmark in the field. Now, with the long awaited sequel The Children of the Sky about to be published, we are proud to offer the first-ever trade paperback edition of this big-screen SF classic.

A Fire Upon The
Paperback, 430 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1992)
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Ben Thiel Jefri also called them Tines
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Oct 27, 2011 j rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brian Halberg
Recommended to j by: Jo Walton
Shelves: 2011, sci-fi-fantasy
Syntax: 81
As received by: GR ServerFarm NW
Language path: Stream of Consciousness Babble→Poorly Considered Argument→LOLcats→Goodreads In-jokes→Only Funny to Me→Irony→English
From: Joeleoj
[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]
Subject: Books to talk about with my wife
David Hughes
Apr 14, 2008 David Hughes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's ever thought they could possibly stomach science fiction
Shelves: scifi, fiction
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 m
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 suc
This book comes highly recommended by Redditors and several "best of sf" lists. However, seeing that Vinge is a scientist I did not expect much from this book, some cool, believable sf concepts at the most. The book did not start well for me with silly names like "Wickwrackrum" popping up and a confusing first chapter. However, once I begin to follow the book (about 30 pages in) Vinge really surprised me with his talented authorship. He has the ability to create characters worth caring about and ...more
mark monday
children on the run. alien dogs that think as a group. power in numbers! powerful book. good dogs. although some bad dogs too. I guess fanatical is a bad personality trait, even for dogs.

different flavors: adventure, medieval fantasy, comedy, hard science fiction, even horror. big ideas.

thoughtful, exciting, highly original. fantastic book.
I love it when I give a book 5-stars!

I knew practically nothing about this book when I started - except that I hadn't liked the only other Vernor Vinge book I'd read (Rainbow's End). This is about a gazillion times better!

So here's the low down:

This is a far future yarn, with three great 'big ideas'.

1) Space is not uniform. I'm probably going to explain this poorly (my wife looked somewhat unconvinced when I tried to explain it to her), but here goes: there are zones of thought. Somewhere in the
Maybe I'll come off as bi-polar when I start this five star review (my first of 2011) with an extensive list of why the book I'm applauding is utter garbage. But what the hell, I'm game if you are. Let's do it.

Why "A Fire Upon the Deep" is Utter Garbage
1. Mr. Vinge's characters are only so-so, and the humans are the worst of the lot. Every once in a blue moon a character will shine, which makes it so hard to bear their poor treatment at other critical points. Vernor struggles, as most sci-fi aut
This is the galaxy in the unimaginably distant future, populated with millions of species. The shape of civilizations is dictated by the shape of the galaxy: close in at the core is the “slowness,” the place where only sublight travel is possible. Farther out is the “beyond,” where FTL drives function and cross-system communication passes on great data pipelines, and very advanced technology can begin to be truly sentient. And above that is the “transcend,” where automation goes beyond sentience ...more
Sooo, I know this is a seminal classic of the Space Opera genre, so the fact I didn't LOVE it as much as everyone said I would makes me feel a bit inadequate in a way, but hey, everyone is entitled to their opinions, eh?

I mean, from an intellectual standpoint, this is brilliant. The world-building is so convincing, I actually was frequently disturbed by it, which is kinda why I can't love it, which is actually a testament to it's brilliance. It's thought provoking and unbelievably well shaped.
Jan 13, 2009 Brad rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brad by: SciFi & Fantasy Book Club Jan 2009 Space Opera
Shelves: sci-fi, to-read-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vernor Vinge has become one of my favorite science fiction authors with this amazing novel. Filled with big, huge ideas and amazing technology. Plus the aliens are awesome. The alien Tines were so original and amazingly described that I was in heaven reading about them. I loved this from beginning to end. Make sure you read this slowly or you might miss a handful of neat ideas.
I seem to be one of the few geeks who was dramatically underwhelmed by this book. I guess that this is classic "hard SF", in the sense of being all ideas and not so much on the characterization. And maybe I've just passed the time in my life when that really excites me. But overall, it just didn't grab me.

The notion of the zones of thought was interesting, albeit a real stretch to me. The tines were a kind-of interesting construction, though mass minds have been done before. And, for whatever re
Aug 25, 2007 Todd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi lovers
Shelves: sci-fi
This is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. It was amazingly creative and clever, and is easily one of the best sci-fi books I've ever laid hands on. The only problem is that it is written in such an extreme third-person viewpoint that people not experienced with sci-fi material will have trouble understanding what is going on; as such, I can only recommend it to experienced sci-fi readers.
Nov 19, 2007 Jlawrence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any science-fiction fan
The first third of this book is some of the best science-fiction I have ever read: good writing, fast pace, some breathtaking action, excellent balance between narrative and explanation, and some really, REALLY cool ideas thoroughly thought-out and implemented. Several times my brain practically crackled and I said, "wow" out loud when certain ideas Vinge had been hinting at "clicked" and became clear. Vinge is also pretty skilled at keeping the vast hard-sci-fi-space-opera scope of the book fas ...more
Apr 18, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: SciFi & Fantasy Book Club Jan 2009 Space Opera Theme Selection
4.5 to 5.0 stars. One of the most imaginative SF novels I have read in some time. Absolutely mind-bending. Highly recommended!!

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
I had high hopes for Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep because I love sci-fi set in space but, while it might make a decent fantasy novel, it is a poor excuse for science fiction.

The novel takes place in Vinge's "Zones of Thought" universe in which the galaxy is separated into discrete zones, each of which is identified by its relative location to the galactic core and its ability to support advanced technology and faster-than-light travel. I initially found The Zones a silly and unnecessary c
Dec 07, 2014 Heidi rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high tech/medieval space opera fans
3.5 stars

It took me a long time to really get into this book, about 200 pages, but once I got there, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Vernor Vinge is a mathematician and computer scientist - and it shows. There's quite a bit of techno babble going on, much of it influenced by the Usenet concept of the 1980s and early 1990s, something I'm not familiar with at all (I got my first modem in 1999). Barely anything is actually explained, but you get the puzzle pieces bit by bit until a more cohesive picture
Daniel Roy
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 unfortu
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
Vernor Vinge is brilliant, and his Fire Upon The Deep has got everything that really good science fiction should have.

In his Zones of Thought universe, Vinge has divided the Milky Way galaxy into zones in which technology, thought, and intelligence increases the further you move from the galactic core. These zones--the "Unthinking Depths," the "Slow," the "Beyond," and the "Transcend"--allow for fascinating dynamics that Vinge uses with great aplomb. In the Unthinking Depths, biological intelli
My fiance has been trying to convince me to read A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge for about three years now. After reading it, I feel really silly for not listening to him sooner. The book has expansive world building stretching across plants and aliens, extending all the way to the laws of physics. A human research station at the fringes of the galaxy activates a an alien Power. After realizing the Power’s harmful intentions, the humans hurriedly flee the planet. One of the refugee ships is ...more
Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)
Well, it's been about three months since I started this book. I got about halfway through it before I "took a break," and I think at this point it's clear that the break will be permanent.

This book was very highly recommended to me by many friends, and I can see the strong attraction to it. When I read the prologue, which was gorgeously written and very intriguing, I thought, "THIS! IS! AWESOME!!" and I was thrilled at the prospect of having a huge, nearly-500-page epic space opera full of delic
Mind-sharing packs of space puppies, sentient plants, transcendent super-intelligent beings that have the power to take over everything, and an entire galaxy's worth of "worldbuilding" and imagination; these are just a few things you'll find in A Fire Upon the Deep. I won't pretend to understand every last detail of it, but the very idea of the "Zones of Thought" - varying levels of possible intelligence/technology/physics based on your height in the galaxy, i.e. The Transcend, The Beyond, The S ...more
‘Un fuego sobre el abismo’ (1992), del estadounidense Vernor Vinge, ganó el premio Hugo en 1993, compartido con la excelente ‘El día del juicio final’, de Connie Willis. ‘Un fuego sobre el abismo’ es una space opera perteneciente a la trilogía Qeng Ho, aunque puede ser leída independientemente, y cuyos otros dos títulos son ‘Un abismo en el cielo’ (1999) y ‘The Children of the Sky’ (2011), todavía inédita en español.

Entrar en la historia de la novela no es fácil, ya que los primeros capítulos so
Melissa Proffitt
When I first read this book, I was blown away by the idea of zones of thought and by Vinge's multi-body creatures. This time, I knew what to expect, and could spend more time exploring the story--two stories, really, one about the children stranded on a backwards planet, the other about a lone ship fleeing an ancient and malevolent entity in search of the thing that will destroy it.

And that's when I figured out it's really a fantasy novel encased in a beautiful science-fiction shell.

It's amazing

One of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, fourth on reddit's sci-fi book survey.
At last, an old-school space opera that blew me away and brought back my love of the genre. This definitely deserved its Hugo. A Fire Upon the Deep has everything -- vast galactic civilizations, a threat to the very cosmos, space battles and starfaring adventurers, truly alien aliens, enough of a hook into the characters to make the story personal, and an epic, hopeful finale that still leaves some threats out there to be resolved. I haven't loved a space opera this much since David Brin's Uplif ...more
This space opera embraces space battles, varying physics, genoicde, aliens including superhuman intelligence and a predecessor of WWW's discussion forums.

It is set partly in space and on a mediaeval world. Both blew me away completely. I adored the pack-minded intelligent canines called Tines in a mediaeval world living 100s of years as a whole and their strange concepts of ultimate und single death, capabilities, madness and integration. But it wasn't only that first-contact world but also the
This is a hard science fiction story about a boy and his sister who are marooned on a distant planet in the far future. Their parents are killed by the inhabitants of the planet, and they and their space ship are taken hostage by two warring factions. They do not realize it, but their space ship holds the key to destroying an alien race that is destroying the civilizations of the galaxy.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the remarkable race that inhabits the planet--intelligent beings t
Dave Fay
This book deserves all of the praise it has been given. It's a very imaginative story with creative ideas about what humanity and the galaxy could be like in the far future. It raises familiar sci-fi motifs: what alien life might be like, implications of super-light travel and communication, AIs as more intelligent and dangerous than humans, disparity of technology between races. However, each of these seems clever and original in this book, the most interesting idea being Vinge's pack-mind spec ...more
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Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon The Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999) and Rainbows End (2006), his Hugo Award-winning novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for his 1993 essay ...more
More about Vernor Vinge...

Other Books in the Series

Zones of Thought (3 books)
  • A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2)
  • The Children of the Sky  (Zones of Thought #3)
A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2) Rainbows End The Peace War (Across Realtime, #1) Marooned in Realtime (Across Realtime, #2) The Children of the Sky  (Zones of Thought #3)

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