3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Staggering tales of superscience,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Fire Upon the Deep (School & Library Binding)
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.