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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering tales of superscience
Vinge has often stated his problems with science fiction- the prospect of an impending Singularity, when human society becomes incomprehensible and unimaginable to us, and impossible for the author to describe. This book, and its companion, A Deepness in the Sky, are set in Vinge's solution to this problem: a universe where physical laws are graded in different regions of...
Published on 13 Dec. 2002

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Takes too long to get into
This book looked like my kind of thing. I have to confess I have given up on it for now. I may go back to it and try again at some point but I just found it too disjointed and far too pompous. One of the early chapters is good and starts an interesting strand, but then another strand starts and is boring, seemingly unconnected and goes on for ages, by which time I had...
Published 23 months ago by Peter J Miles


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering tales of superscience, 13 Dec. 2002
By A Customer
Vinge has often stated his problems with science fiction- the prospect of an impending Singularity, when human society becomes incomprehensible and unimaginable to us, and impossible for the author to describe. This book, and its companion, A Deepness in the Sky, are set in Vinge's solution to this problem: a universe where physical laws are graded in different regions of the Galaxy - here in the Slow Zone, faster than light travel and communications, and superhuman artificial intelligences are impossible; the Beyond, where FTL and strong AI are possible, and then the Transcend, where entire races can pass through the Singularity and become Powers, before vanishing in some fashion within a few years.
Most of the book takes place in the Beyond; glorious space opera, in a galaxy of interstellar empires, god-like Powers, and the newly rebooted ultimate computer virus/evil god, the Blight. The opening prologue itself is stunning, just for the amount of information compressed by implication into a handful of pages; and it gets better from there. There's an interstellar communications network, with just enough bandwidth for a Galactic Usenet, littered with misinformation and occasionally hilarious wacko speculation about current events ("Is it true that humans have six limbs? If so, there may be a simple explanation..."). Throw in fascist butterflies ("Death to Vermin!"), truly *strange* aliens and a frantic pursuit over thousands of light years, all the way into the Slow Zone, for possession of a Transcendent device that can possibly stop the Blight, and it's not surprising the book was voted a Hugo award winner.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A *must read* sci-fi book, 23 Mar. 2001
By 
Dave (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This book was full of fascinating ideas from start to finish. The author brings in new ideas about the different cultures and tech's in true sci-fi style (imho) by letting you realise just before the full (and interesting) explanation is given what the core content is going to be. The ideas contained are both small and global and are still very strong in my mind at least 5 books and a couple of months later.
I could not recommend this book highly enough. Go and read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vinge Fan, 3 Mar. 2007
Dr Vinge is, in my opinion, one of the best sci fi authors alive. This is the first book I read of his, and I was hooked. The worlds Dr Vinge creates stay with you - a rare achievement. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!, 30 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
I actually read this some years ago, when it first came out in the UK, so I can't make too many specific comments. However, I would certainly like to add my agreement to the previous reader's remarks. This is a real galaxy-spanning, "sense of wonder" type book. Intelligent space opera for the nineties. I'd also recommend any other Vinge book, especially the Peace War & Marooned in Realtime (sometimes published together as Across Realtime).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blight-mey, what a read!, 15 Dec. 2011
I have not read something like this in a long time (something a student of mine recommended). The style is truly compelling, and the story fascinating, if a little confusing in parts: this has more to do with my limited notions space, I suspect, than with any fault on the part of the writer.

At first I was thrown by the alternation between Deep Space and sub-Arctic Tine World. I found the Tine-world episodes more enthralling, if more alien - though I have to say that Skrodes came across as pretty weird too.

The group-mind analysis was more than credible: I normally hate stories where animal are anthropomorphised - but here, there was a very skilled depiction of group function and Mr Vinge chose wolves for clear reasons, setting him apart from those endless sentimental trash fantasy writers. Phew!

The Deep Space parts were necessary, I suppose, and in parts just immense! demanding more than I could really handle at times (but the expert reader of this genre would be in his or her element, I have no doubt), but I did find the radio messages verging on the insufferable; that may also be because we live in a world of techno-spam, and some of the messages resembled what colleagues threaten me with - a Blight in itself.

So, I happily go along with people who call Mr Vinge a visionary. His style is rapid, accurate, and witty. Yes... I will read another of his books. Definitely a powerful introduction to his writing, and to a new type of Space Odyssey. Thank you for this baptism by fire.

Emmanuel Power
Geneva, Switzerland
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5.0 out of 5 stars Galaxy Full of Big Ideas to Play With, 3 Jun. 2011
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The plot reads like standard space opera. A spaceship crashes on a pre-technological planet and the survivors encounter the natives, with their unique culture and physiology. Rescuers are on the way, but must find their way through hostile aliens and a galaxy-wide crisis of staggering import. Somehow, many pages later, it all works out.

The writing is good, the characters likeable and memorable. The action varies, alternating tense confrontations and wrenching surprises with restful, character-developing discussions. The real strengths of this book, however, are the cleverly-conceived big ideas. Three examples:

Big Idea #1 -- Our galaxy is somehow segregated into "zones of thought." In the central "unthinking depths," intelligence and technological complexity is limited by the very fabric of space. In the "Transcend" on the outer edges, whole societies have sublimed beyond our understanding and virtually disappeared. Except for when they revisit lower realms with devastating results. Imagine how space travel, technology and our humanity itself would subtly change as we traveled between these zones.

Big Idea #2 -- An alien that has one consciousness distributed across half a dozen or so physical bodies--a pack of wolves with one shared mind. The pack members communicate with short-range sonar. Imagine the confusion when two packs mingle together. Imagine the personality changes when a single member dies or two packs shuffle members. Imagine an entire culture of these aliens encountering human beings.

Big Idea #3 -- A galaxy-wide internet where an almost-unimaginable variety of alien cultures talk to and about each other. What information would be shared and how might it be misunderstood? Who can be believed? Trusted? And we thought we had scalability problems!

And there are more fascinating ideas, large and small. This entertaining and mind-expanding book is strongly recommended. Without reservation. Savor it and swallow it. Then move on to the prequel, A Deepness in the Sky.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book - great for 'the bigger picture' Sci-Fi fans, 9 Feb. 2002
By 
CjW "chris" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I've read a lot of over-rated books recently - but this grabbed my imagination and attention. Can't put it down! A story across galaxies with brilliant extrapolation regarding the alieness of other living beings and inter-action between them.
Not a science fantasy book; but a science fiction masterpiece with the imagaination of the great Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. Someone reccomend me more like these!
Marvellous- worth waiting for the re-print to come out. Thats a good hint in itself is it not!
CjW BSc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the best tradition of SF, 20 May 2008
By 
A very satisfying book, combining grand themes, a strong narrative, and excellent and thoroughly well thought-out ideas for alien races, societies and technologies. I particularly liked the approach to the predicament of a starship's captain, forced to make unaided decisions which will change the course of history - this was in the tradition of the best naval historical fiction, as it should be, with a good dose of espionage and treachery thrown in. The closest comparable book, for me, is Iain Banks' The Algebraist - high praise.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I Have Ever Read, 9 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
Vinge takes all the best ideas from both Fantasy and Sci-fi and masterly crafts them into this book. Everything from epic galactic space battles, Inspired new technologies and mind bogglingly constucted aliens, to Medieval feuds, Makavelian plotting and amazingly in depth characters.
The plot doesnt just keep you guessing all the way to the end, but makes you re-evaluate that guess every chapter. Just as you think the good guys are finally gaining the upper hand, the bad guys pull out another trump card.
Not only does Vinge bring all this alive by going into extreme detail with character development but also the science behind it. Among other concepts like the "Ramscoop" and "Slow Zone", the Tines race is an inspired concoction by Vinge and he introduces and portrays them beyond reproach to provide a deeply rich and Wonderous backdrop for one half of the struggle against the Blight.
In summary A Fire Upon The Deep is a space opera of unsurpassed proportions and delving just as deep into the subtletes of human and alien psyche to produce, in short, the best book i have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great scifi with awesome bits, 25 May 2000
By A Customer
I reckon this is the most interesting / exciting / thought-provoking scifi book I've ever read. Sure, it gets a bit wobbly on occasion but, overall its a corker.
The opening chapter is very powerful, as is the idea of the physics of the universe in which this story takes place. There is a strong feeling of the age and history and size and complexity of the universe and its assorted star-faring species.
No buts. Its a great book.
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A Fire upon the Deep
A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (Hardcover - April 1992)
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