Jeffrey's Reviews > A Fire Upon the Deep

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
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's review
Dec 16, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, read-in-2009
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Randy
Recommended for: Hard Sci-Fi fans

** spoiler alert ** A hard sci-fi book that flies in the distant future yet conveniently sees current technology that was just just beginning to be a dream in its day.

Vernor Vinge does a great job of developing a highly advanced society and galaxy, creates a fascinating first contact scenario with a unique alien race, and still captures broad space opera with an overwhelming threat. Yet it is not without its flaws, hence the less than perfect rating.


Two fundamental problems plague the work. One, the political intrigue of the Tines' world is pedestrian at best, really only providing anything of interest within the last third of the book. Two, Vinge relies upon a significantly questionable plot device throughout the first half of the book, namely that of 8 year-old Jefri Olsndot. Setting him up as the gullible patsy for the evil Tine manipulator snaps the suspenders of disbelief for anyone who's actually been a parent. Secondly, even if one can accept him as being that gullible, an entire research facility/archives accepts his words as not only completely truthful, but as cold hard fact. Not a single person among a highly advanced society of researchers is willing to ask the single question, "Even if we believe he thinks he's telling the truth, does he actually know what the truth is?" Instead it takes the reconstruction of an ancient God to ask a question that should have been, at worst, question 3 on the rescuers list.

Still, for the vision, for the space opera, for the imagination of a society far beyond what we see today, and an alien race that truly feels alien when you begin reading, this book earns its four stars.

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Quotes Jeffrey Liked

Vernor Vinge
“He claimed that nearby gun thunder cleared the mind - but most everybody else agreed it made you daft.”
Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep

Reading Progress

December 16, 2008 – Shelved
December 16, 2008 – Shelved as: science-fiction
December 17, 2008 –
page 29
4.73% "Vinge's novel is off to a somewhat confusing start. The overall action is clear, but details are sketchy. I'll soon understand the paradigm."
December 18, 2008 –
page 35
5.71% "When I read the back I was concerned because everything I read these days thinks wolves are the "it" thing. But this on is really different."
December 29, 2008 –
page 56
9.14% "I've not read much modern sci-fi. Unlike old school sci-fi it's not about being the future. It's more space opera plot with hard sci-fi styl"
January 5, 2009 –
page 104
16.97% "Happy New Year! Now that I'm back on the train I should start making good progress again. The book is getting interesting."
January 6, 2009 –
page 147
23.98% "Oddly enough, you learn to understand the planet's denizens as they come to understand the aliens. It's an effective sequence."
January 7, 2009 –
page 169
27.57% "I know the book is set in the far future, but setting an 8 year old up as the gullible one makes me wonder if Vinge has ever had a child."
January 8, 2009 –
page 200
32.63% "Chaos ensues as the main plot decides to show up again."
January 9, 2009 –
page 233
38.01% "I'm intrigued to see where this book will go. Its plot layers appear to defy any simple resolution, even with 400 pages left."
January 12, 2009 –
page 268
43.72% "I struggle with how much people trust in this book. Even if you believe an 8 year old thinks it's true, doesn't mean you should think it is."
January 13, 2009 –
page 300
48.94% "When 1/3 of the book is annoying, you sometimes wonder why you keep slogging through. If only the concepts weren't so great."
January 14, 2009 –
page 334
54.49% "Why does it take the reanimated guy & so many pages to ask questions I would have asked much sooner?"
January 15, 2009 –
page 375
61.17% "Now that my question has been asked, I find the reading much more enjoyable. While there is a certain bit of DOOM! involved, it's still good"
January 16, 2009 –
page 425
69.33% "Things are coming to a head. It's still got a ways to go but the pieces are moving int position."
Started Reading
January 20, 2009 –
page 532
86.79% "The book continues to show that Vinge does hi-SF well. low-tech intrigue? Not so much."
January 20, 2009 – Finished Reading
March 9, 2009 – Shelved as: read-in-2009

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