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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  41,726 Ratings  ·  1,862 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
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Paperback, 430 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Tor Books (first published 1992)
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Sanjai Tripathi That bothered me for a sec too, until I remembered it was briefly mentioned that Steel had learned of Johanna's use of the term and liked it, so he…moreThat bothered me for a sec too, until I remembered it was briefly mentioned that Steel had learned of Johanna's use of the term and liked it, so he started calling his race that.(less)
Steven This one is fine. The prequel isn't really tied to this one by more than a single character, one that is quite different (for reasons explained in the…moreThis one is fine. The prequel isn't really tied to this one by more than a single character, one that is quite different (for reasons explained in the first book) between the two books. Nothing that happens there affects this story. It's more of a companion piece.(less)
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j
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brian Halberg
Recommended to j by: Jo Walton
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy, 2011
Crypto:
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
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David Hughes
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Epic science fiction at its best, this space opera novel shared the 1993 Hugo Award with Doomsday Book. This is incredibly imaginative, with a great, complex story and detailed, believable world-building, and some of the best alien species ever imagined. It's a long, sprawling story and the technological parts are rather dated, but I still loved it.

A group of scientists investigating a five billion year old data archive accidentally unleashes the Blight, a malignant superintelligence that rapidl
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Jamie Collins
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
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Apatt
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futuristik
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.
Felicia
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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.
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Brian
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Clouds
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
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Terran
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Stuart
A Fire Upon the Deep: Fascinating aliens but clunky plot and characters
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
A Fire Upon the Deep was the big breakout novel from Vernor Vinge, winner of the 1993 Hugo Award and nominated for the Nebula. It features a unique premise I haven’t encountered before: the universe has been separated into four separate Zones of Thought: the Unthinking Depths, Slow Zone, Beyond, and Transcend. Starting from the galactic core, the Zones demarcate differing levels of techn
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Lightreads
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
Daniel Roy
May 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
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Rob
Executive Summary: This book started out pretty strong for me, but lost steam as I went on. I liked it, but not as much as I hoped.

Full Review
My reading of this book was pretty uneven. I read about 25% on a plane, then several days with no reading. Then I read another 25% on a plane and several more days with no reading. After that it was a chapter or two here or there stretching the whole thing out over 2+ weeks. It's not a short book, but it was obvious to me as I went on that I was losing s
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Josh
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, overrated
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
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Brad
Dec 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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.
Jlawrence
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Shelly
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
Trike
This is sooo close to being a 5-star book for me. So, so close.

A lot of TV series follow the basic "A Plot and B Plot" style of storytelling. Good TV shows manage to connect them thematically and then tie them together into one story by the end. Vinge does this here.

On the macro scale we have the Blight, an ancient, malevolent virus that takes over everyone in its path, human and alien alike. On the smaller scale we have two kids stranded on an alien planet along with a bunch of their friends in
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Sarah Anne
4.5 stars. This was such an incredibly fascinating book and I wish I could have read it all straight through. It has one of the single coolest alien species I've ever seen and the story is really great. Part of the story is a race through space, including a space battle, and part of the story actually takes place on this planet. There are two groups of aliens, falling generally into "good guys" and "bad guys". The world is a medieval setting and it's interesting to see how each of the groups ben ...more
Todd
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Jon
Dec 27, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: SciFi & Fantasy Book Club Jan 2009 Space Opera Theme Selection
Efka
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Visiškai klasikinis saifajus, gal net galima kvalifikuoti kaip space opera. Svetimos planetos, milijonas protingų rasių, blasteriai ir FTL travel. Ko daugiau gali reikėti normaliam nerdui?

Pirmą dalį įvertinau 3, šią - 4 *, vidurkis turbūt ir gaunasi tiksliausias įvertinimas: 7/10. Labiau pasimėgauti sutrukdė itin ilga įžanga ir absoliučiai jokios legend - skaityai ir galvoji, KASPERŠ tos aukštosios aukštumos, kuo jos skiriasi nuo kokios Aukštosios Laboratorijos, etc etc etc.

Bet šiaip visi niek
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Simon
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
I don't know why but I don't think I had even heard of this author before I saw it added to the SF Masterworks series and I'm surprised; he really is quite an accomplished SF writer.

This is an epic, sprawling space opera set in the distant future where a menacing blight is unleashed after an ancient artefact is discovered and it threatens to overwhelm the galaxy. A few people just manage to escape with the key to counteracting the blight but fall foul of the local inhabitants on a planet they c
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Stephen
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
Nicole
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Silvana
We made it, preciousss, we finished this book after three weeks!

O real life, why do you have to intervene while I am trying to finish this fantastic novel. The prologue was one of the strangest prologues ever, yet it is very intriguing. Lucky Tor released this for free a while ago for their ebookclub.

I won't say much about the Zones of Thoughts (see below) because I am still digesting the concept. Let me tell you though, it is literally and figuratively mindblowing and thoughtprovoking.

zones of thoughts

The ali
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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
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Heidi
Feb 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  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
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Randy
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many ideas! Lovecraftian superintelligent ancient Powers. Unusual and interesting alien species like the warrior butterfly Aprahanti or the pack-minded Tines. Skroderide or Die! FTL drives and space weaponry, but everyone communicates through Usenet? The so-called Zones of Thought is a great concept, if you don't think about it too much. Pacing issues and Vinge's awkward prose at times can detract, but overall this is a wonderful mess of a sprawling space opera. Love the Boris Vallejo cover.
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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 e ...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)
“I never guessed I could cry so hard my face hurt.” 39 likes
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