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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 15 April 2011
Vernor Vinge is not an author I've heard talked about in the UK, but I was introduced to "A Fire Upon The Deep" about 18 years ago by a friend. I loved it, and when I wanted to read it again a few years later bought my own copy which I have read several times. Now I'm buying this Omnibus on Kindle simply to read "A Fire Upon The Deep" again, but I am so excited to realise that a second book exists and to read that as well.

"A Fire Upon The Deep" is brilliantly written with some of the most inventive alien races I have ever come accross. Rather than the standard humanoid aliens (though those are present as well) great imagination has gone into what other sorts of races could exist (I just love the pack mind characters). That along with Galatic Zones allowing medieval to go along side spaceships and far future makes for a gripping book. I found myself absorted from the beginning. I am just so glad I can read it again on my Kindle.

I don't usually write reviews... but just had to for this book because it has to be among the best I have ever read.
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on 3 July 2017
I have loved these books for a long time.They are beautifully crafted tales of alien species who are not just humans with funny noses.The characters are fully rounded and believable and the two plots gripping.I can highly recomend this twin pack.
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on 7 June 2017
Great book
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 October 2012
A Fire upon the Deep is half broad canvas space opera, half mediaeval fantasy.

This is a universe divided into "Zones of Thought". Near galactic cores, what we understand as the laws of physics hold, in the "slowness". The speed of light limits speed of thought, of electronic processing, and of travel.

Above lies the Beyond in which multiple species interact in a galactic civilisation. Above that, species have ascended to short lived god like status in the top (perhaps?) layer, the Transcendence.

In the Beyond, humans, who, as a race, have escaped the slowness at the bottom (at a time when, bizarrely judging by the names, Iceland seems to have won the struggle for cultural dominance) have awakened an ancient evil, a "perversion". A single ship escaping the catastrophe, and unknowingly carrying the counter to the evil crashlands on a backward world where canine creatures have evolved a pack-like telepathic/ultrasonic intelligence and fight wars with swords and crossbows

On the other side of the galaxy, a young human woman, her artificially created lover and their alien (apparent) allies, escape an attack by the perversion, seeking to take over both Beyond and Transcendence, and set out to recover the countermeasure. To add spice to their quest (yup, another quest novel) they are pursued by forces under the control of their adversay and by opportunists who blame humanity for the disaster and are seeking to eradicate homo-sapiens.

The space opera part of the book delivers vast space battles and huge artificial habitats, while the fantasy element provides scheming villains seeking to undermine rightful rulers.

Fire upon the deep is a contemporary of Iain M Banks' early Culture novels, and shares many themes such as a galactic civilisation built around vast artificial structures. Similarly Vinge's transcendence parallel's Banks' sublimation. It also pre-dates Peter F Hamilton's Nights Dawn and Commenwealth novels, and is a clear influence upon them. The post adolescent tone is very familiar and Vinge's dog-like Tines are a clear ancestor of Hamilton's Morning Light Mountain.

There is plenty of interesting stuff in here, even though not every idea comes off. Intelligent sea anemones anyone? Not really. The ending is pleasingly conclusive and really quite endearing, and some of the sections rip along at an exciting pace.

However, my biggest problem with this book is that it is all a bit heavy, a bit turgid. Maybe it's because I'm no great fan of fantasy, but the endless politicking and metaphorical cloak twirling on the Tines world just left me cold. Stop telling me how evil the villains are and just get on with the story.

So, its OK, if you have time to spare, and if you are a bigger fan of fantasy than I you'll probably enjoy it, but for me it lacked two things - lightness of touch, and a better editor. I didn't feel inspired to move onto the second book of the anthology immediately, I may come back to it in time.
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on 1 January 2017
Let me start off by saying I thoroughly enjoyed this series and without realising, Mr Vinge has started me down a path that I'm great full for. Ironically, some months later and only now i realise who is, making this series even more poignant.

Although a SciFi fan, particularly of technical space operas, I found myself initially disconcerted by this series.

I enjoyed his writing, the technicalities, and even some of the rather obscure characters, so put it down to some of the relationships possibly not fully melding.

Yep, I'm a girlie and if you're going to build personal relationships into a novel they need to be believable. Quite often the one thing that lets an otherwise good sci-fi novel down is the synergy of the relationships.

In truth, it was not the relationships that I found unsettling about the series either. It was only after I stepped way from the series and started my non-fiction search into AI that I realised what it was that left me uncomfortable about this series - the potential that lurks within.

I highly recommend this series to anyone curious about AI, never mind space, and our future - read it with an open mind as it will test you more than superficially.

A Good school of thought learnt.
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2013
I picked this up as the sci-fi crowd in general seem to regard it as something of a classic. I've read it on and off for about a month in little snippets, and frankly, I really struggled with it and eventually binned it. The entire package is about 900 pages, and I'm got about a quarter of the way in. The pacing is glacial, I found the characters frankly uninteresting, but what was mainly just very irritating was that even after a couple of hundred pages there was so little exposition of anything. The prose is rather dense, and it simply seems to take a hell of a long time for anything of interest to actually happen.

I wouldn't bother, frankly.
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on 19 February 2012
Prior to starting this book, I wasn't convinced that I'd enjoy it. And after reading the first chapter I still wasn't convinced... but somewhere between the end of the first chapter and a third of the way through the first story I realised I was absolutely and completely engrossed. Both stories are epic, the characters well fleshed out, and the overall pace of the stories are perfect. I'm a huge Peter F Hamilton fan, and I now add Vernor Vinge to my all time favourite sci-fi authors alongside Hamilton.
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on 7 January 2011
Vernor Vinge isn't a name in the UK and I don't know why but it could be that he has not been as prolific a writer as some. I discovered him in the States about a decade ago when I bought a book from a second hand stall. If someone told me that Iain M Banks and Alastair Reynolds had borrowed their themes from VV I would not be surprised. Intelligent, complex stories. Elegantly written. Here we have universe that you want to go to - with alien, aliens. The idea of a galaxy where zones limit the upper limit of complexity gives a backdrop for variety where medieval rubs up against the future.

What else? Well we have Powers (think a cross between Banks' Minds and a Transcended Race), Perversions/Blight (Godlike hegemonizing swarms) and aliens so odd that they make every other writer look a bit short changed in the imagination dept. Like so many other great sci-fi writers he has a doctorate in physics which keeps his universe believable and intelligent. Good plots, solid characters you believe in. Please read it and then tell me that Skroderiders are not the most appealing and loveable species ever dreamed up. If they don't exist out there, they should.
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on 9 July 2013
What a great pair of books. Both are engrosing page turners; though they share a charachter or two, and are set in the same universe they are so far apar in objective time that they are not the traditional se/pre-quel.
First book was superb and had some great themes, ideas and aliens. While the second was more thought provoking, both with charachters i both rooted for, and wished ill.
New fan, will be hoovering his back catalogue.
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on 15 October 2013
I adore the Tines, so I loved the first book, 'A Fire Upon the Deep'. Vernor Vinge at his best and most original. Both humans and Tines are so well portrayed; fascinating and touching. The second book, which is really a prequel, is not so much to my taste . Much more macho and scientific. More of an adventure story and I found it hard to identify or be in sympathy with the characters. But, as always, well written.
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