Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unpredictable, godlike "Powers". When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilisations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.
Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the dog-like aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.
Vinge's climax is suitably mind-boggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness. Pham Nuwen also appears in the nifty prequel set 30,000 years earlier, A Deepness in the Sky. Both recommended. --David Langford
Another sic fi book with great plot but told badly jumbled and unconvincing,pity great shamePublished 8 days ago by michael gawn
amazing book!! the second advendture of Pham Niwen, as good as the one in the spider planetPublished 4 months ago by E. M. Martin
A truly incredible book - one of the best I've ever read. For those with the breadth of mind to appreciate the ideas in this story, it will be a real treat. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Adam
I tend to enjoy the harder science fiction titles of authors of the Arthur C. Clarke ilk but I have a soft spot for a vivid imagination in science fiction and they don’t come any... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Spiderlung
Read this twice now so I must have enjoyed it! I think the best thing really is the alien life forms that Vinge invents. A slightly odd ending but only a tiny bit weak. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Thom Strachur
I kept thinking I was going to put it down at first. But he's got some brilliant, very original ideas. Also, some of the best imagined aliens I've ever come across. Recommend.Published 16 months ago by matthenkes
Fire upon the deep is extremely ambitious space opera - the aliens are extremely well-imagined, and there are enough tantalising glimpses of the worlds of the Transcend and the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by E. Schizas
I first read this book twenty years ago when it appeared in paperback. The intervening years had dimmed my memories of much of the story, but I well remember how it made my head... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Steve D