Steven's Reviews > A Fire Upon the Deep

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
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's review
Jun 08, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, maps
Read from May 19 to June 07, 2012

Looks like this might be shaping up to be another sci-fi summer...

I'd read a review of Vinge's newest work based on this universe, The Children of the Sky, some months back, and was intrigued enough to try and tackle all three books, starting with this one. I was talking with a writer/teacher friend of mine, trying to explain how well-crafted this story is. I don't think I did a particularly good job then, and I don't know that I will now. The reader is just kind of plopped down into a universe -- ours, as it happens, thousands of years from now -- of which he or she knows nothing. But Vinge slowly builds all the aspects of it -- technology, culture, communication, history, the laws of nature, politics -- at just the right pace to keep you interested. I never felt that "oh, here's the part where the author does the exposition thing." I don't know how authors do this, but Vinge does it masterfully. In short order, I was drawn in.

One of the main threads of this story, is that the laws of nature change the further one gets from the center of the galaxy -- way out past where we are (where all the exciting stuff happens), computers are capable of much more, and the speed of light can be surpassed. The closer one gets to the center of the Milky Way, the slower and dumber things are. (Ahem.)

It starts with a lot of crazy action, backs off, and then builds to a heart-thumping conclusion, involving multiple intelligent races, non-mushy love stories, political intrigue, self-sacrifice -- a great story all around. I was kind of exhausted after this, but immediately picked up a copy of A Deepness in the Sky...


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