A Fire Upon the Deep Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
A Fire Upon the Deep is the big, breakout book that fulfills the promise of Vinge's career to date: a gripping tale of galactic war told on a cosmic scale. Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind's potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function.
Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these "regions of thought", but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.
Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.
A Fire upon the Deep, which began the Zones of Thought series, is the winner of the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection to keep (you’ll use your first credit now).
- Unlimited listening on select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
Related to this topic
Only from Audible
|Listening Length||21 hours and 37 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 19, 2010|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #10,444 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#32 in Space Exploration Science Fiction
#80 in First Contact Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#89 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
1. The main "alien" world in this book is medieval England–with dogs. It's divided into city-states replete with castles, dungeons, balconies, scrolls, tables, cabinets, bows and arrows. (Uh, don't bows and arrows require...fingers?) There are spies, assassins, artists apprentices–even a Queen, a council, and a Lord Chamberlain. This is Earth 2.0. I was hoping for something more inventive.
2. When I say dogs, I don't mean German Shepherds. These aliens are tiny--some are menacing and villainous. Others are as cute and cuddly as teddy bears. There are vicious wolves that the author compares to gerbils. The cute and ominous work against each other.
3. And the cute little dogs aren't the only silly aliens. We also have villainous butterflies. Then there are the Skroderiders, who seem to be intelligent potted plants on wheels. The author came up with gimmicky names for the hive-mind dogs–so we end up with Peregrine Wickwrackrun, and other polysyllabic monstrosities. I feel sorry for the poor soul who had to read this for the audio version.
4. Speaking of the language...What's a sophont? What's an agrav? My eyes glazed over. Too much excessive jargon, too few orienting details, and often insufficient explanation to help the reader visualize the action. Here are a couple of examples:
"Cricketsong is a synthetic race created as a jape/experiment/instrument by the High Willow upon its Transcendence."
"Saint Rihndell had a small harbor about sixteen million klicks around the RIP system. The move was even plausible, for it happened that there was a Skroderider terrane in the Harmonious Repose system–and currently it was just a few hundred kilometers from Rihndell's second harbor.They would rendezvous with the tusk-legs, exchanging repairs for two hundred seventeen flamed trellises. And if the trellises were perfectly matched, Rihndell promised to throw in an agrav refit."
You can sort of, kinda get what the author means–but trying to wade through page after page of this is worse than reading a manual on tractor hyperdrive repair.
5. And we also have missteps with characterization:
"After a long period of normal progress, Jefri had come back with a counterplan. It consisted of a complete reworking of the tables for the accoustic interface."
Who is Jefri?
This kid Jefri is eight years old (though his canine sidekick is a budding Stephen Hawking). But do you know any eight-year-old kid who thinks like that?
6. I'll just add that there are better stories out there. For an example of an outlandish, but somehow believable, sci-fi novel read CHILDREN OF TIME. If you like dogs with your sci-fi, I also recommend CITY by Clifford D. Simak and David W. Wixon--an older book but nicely written.
One detail is special- most authors fall over themselves when it comes to a rational description of time. How long is a day in space when humanity has filled the galaxy? How long is a week? A month? A year? All relate to the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun. Vinge solves this problem by having a base of seconds- Ksecs is 1000 secs, Msecs is a million secs, etc. A second is constant, based on oscillations of a certain element, which is the same everywhere, in space or on any planet. Ingenious! (I do not know if he created the idea, but this is the first book I have seen to use the definition. Bravo!)
The plot involves a grand sweep of history, covering many thousands of human years, and billions of years for the villian. The future-descriptions are seamless and easily understandable. I was at home with this story!
I TOTALLY recommend that you read this, it is an awesome read!
One mind boggling idea that the galaxy has zones. The closer you get to the galaxy center, the dumber you are, and the slower you go, the longer you live. A fast, smart, malevolent force from the outermost region reaches into the lower zones spreading death and destruction.
Vinge depicts different types of non-human intelligence in a really thought provoking way.
example the Tines who are dog like animals who have human or greater than human intelligence when gathered in packs; they are intelligent, pack animals that live on a close-in feudal world. Many individuals make up a personality. They don’t have hands but use their jaws and paws together in a coordinated way to get things done.
The Skroderiders who are plant-like creatures who become intelligent when paired with carts that some being had created for them billions of years ago
and beings of nearly god-like intelligence created by evolving computer networks, and more.
He also comes up with interesting astronomy by splitting the galaxy up into zones in which physics is differentiated, so that it's possible for certain creatures to travel at beyond light speed and become advanced, and for others to be trapped in zones of slowness (like Earth).
The entertainment to cost ratio of this book is enormous. It is long, it is well written, it gets you thinking when you put it down, and it makes you want to re-read it.
There are innumerable civilizations, which rise, change, and become extinct over millions and billions of years. Moreover, some of these close to the core discover space travel, and gradually "transcend" as they are able to travel farther from the core.
The narrative and realization of this concept is not bad but nothing special. There is a basic good adventure story, but it is wordy and sometimes a bit immature. It's a long book, and I skipped over entire pages.
Also, the book falls down sometimes on the creation of alien species, especially the dog-like race at the center of much of the action.
But the concept still comes through. If Fire Upon the Deep were well-written, and all the alien species well thought-out, this would be one of the great sci-fi novels of all time.
Top reviews from other countries
But I'm glad I persisted as the world described has a huge amount of variety and is truly immersive in a way I've not really come across before. You really do feel like you start to understand this huge universe of different cultures, people and aliens that are all existing, trading and fighting their way through the millienia even as more powerful intelligences carry on in planes of existence beyond our level of intelligence. And then you're whipped down to specific worlds where you follow individual characters as they live their more mundane lives and fight their own microscopic battles amongst their own people. And then it all somehow all comes together as the story reaches its climax and conclusion. It's truly an impressive work.
I've now started the prequel which describes some events earlier in the history of this universe.
I love Peter F Hamilton books and I struggle to find anything as good but I enjoyed this as much as those.
I struggled to get my head around the main race (the Tines) and once I understood the concept, I reread some chapters again, so that they made more sense.
Great characters, great story. I'm going to find another book by Vernor Vinge
Aside from the basic errors made by the publisher this book is great, galaxy spanning space opera at its very best and unlike most of the novels released these days it tells a complete self contained story without being split into 6 or more parts.