Chris Aylott's Reviews > A Fire Upon the Deep

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
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's review
Jun 28, 2012

it was amazing

It's been at least a decade since I read this book -- two since I read it for the first time -- but I picked Fire Upon the Deep up again to remind myself of what happened before starting Children of the Sky.

It's still a fantastic book. Even though one of its major conceits is that the galactic Internet looks a lot like Usenet circa 1992, it's still a fresh and compelling read.

The plot is relatively simple. Humans awaken an ancient and malevolent Power on the edge of the galaxy, and survive their mistake just long enough to send a possible weapon against the Power coreward. The race is on to retrieve the weapon before the Power does, a mission complicated by the fact that the weapon and a few human children have landed on a planet populated by a unique species of aliens that can only think in packs.

All that is relatively straightforward, but Vinge uses the story as an extended meditation on the different possibilities of communication and intelligence. What would it be like to have several bodies and only one mind? What's special about the human ability to cooperate as individuals? How might a plant think? This is heady stuff woven into a ripping good story, and I still love it.


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