A Fire Upon the Deep

A Fire Upon the Deep

Paperback - 1993 | First Mass Market edition
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A Hugo award-winning Novel!

"Vinge is one of the best visionary writers of SF today." -- David Brin

Thousands of years in the future, humanity is no longer alone in 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 this galactic threat, Ravna crash lands on a strange world with a ship-hold full of cryogenically frozen children, the only survivors from a destroyed space-lab. They are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle.

Tor books by Vernor Vinge

Zones of Thought Series
A Fire Upon The Deep
A Deepness In The Sky
The Children of The Sky

Realtime/Bobble Series
The Peace War
Marooned in Realtime

Other Novels
The Witling
Tatja Grimm's World
Rainbows End

Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge
True Names

Publisher: New York :, Tor,, 1993
Edition: First Mass Market edition
Copyright Date: ©1992
ISBN: 9780812515282
Branch Call Number: SF VIN
Characteristics: 613 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm


From the critics

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Sep 10, 2018

This book is classic SF by one of the best authors around (who was a professor of math and computer science when he wrote this): highly original, solid plot line, good character development, lots of action and suspense, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. At 613 pages it's not a quick read but it is a page turner that I hated to put down.

May 26, 2015

This stands as one of the best damn space operas ever created, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Hyperion. It’s packed with incredible ideas and interesting characters and wrapped around with high adventure. Folks, it doesn’t get better than this. So read the damn thing.

A Fire Upon the Deep is one of those books that some love and some hate, but needs to be read. It’s a book with an incredible vision of the galaxy and man’s future among the stars, but it’s also a rip roaring tale that doesn’t get lost in all that “vastness”. A perfect combination between story and ideas. This book won the Hugo Award and it’s pretty easy to see why it did.
There’s a lot of “back story” going on, but the basic premise is this: the galaxy is divided up into various zones. The more sophisticated the technology, the further zones you can go. The laws of physics are relaxed in the zones which make computing and technology such as faster than light travel possible that’s not possible in the Slow Zones. Earth is stuck in the Slow Zone but humanity has in fact made it into the Beyond and founded a few civilizations. The irony is that when you have made it to the Beyond, it’s hard to reach the Slow Zone because the laws of physics are more restrictive. The perfect utopia of the Beyond comes to a grinding halt when human scientists accidentally unleash an ancient evil that basically gobbles up the known world. And the fight to save the universe is on.

A Fire Upon the Deep is a fantastic read for anyone who loves old school Space Opera with plenty of hard science fiction mixed in. Indeed, there’s a hell of a lot thrown into the basket which includes physics, hard sci-fi technology, different races, galactic history, political wrangling and betrayals, conspiracy, a passionate war thriller, and even romance.

There’s an awesome prequel to this and as of 2012, a long awaited twenty years in coming sequel “Children of the Sky” was released. So there’s plenty of fodder in this universe to be entertained by.

Fans of Space Opera and/or Hard Sci-Fi will love this one. If you are a fan of Author C Clark, Larry Niven, or Peter Hamilton, Simmon’s Hyperion, read it. Even if you are not, read it!

mvkramer Apr 11, 2015

This book has everything - a compelling story, cool aliens and characters I liked. The story was so exciting that I found myself almost shouting at the book at times; Vinge is great at creating situations where the reader knows what's going on and the characters don't. I look forward to the sequels!

Feb 06, 2015

Enjoyed this book so much that I re-read it in 2014. There are few books that get that honor.

Sep 30, 2014

Just finished reading. One of those books you pull all nighters to finish. The plot follows a couple humans thousands of years in the future, stranded on an alien world that is roughly in our middle ages. With a futuristic space ship racing to save them. Fun technology combinations of bows and arrows with ultra light speed travel and phasers.
Took off one star because I felt it dragged a little in the second half before the plot climax at the end.
Looking forward to starting Children of the Sky.

Jan 18, 2013


Imaginative to the extreme and grounded enough to feel real.

The pack life form is well developed and explored in depth, the story is gripping, the characters real, the tension non-stop, a great great read.

Followed by the strong sequel, Children Of The Sky.

Jun 16, 2012

Classic early '90s Hugo -winning sf novel, which I had never read. Pure old fashioned science fiction, with spaceships, aliens, imagined cosmology, etc. It was interesting to see the narrative advanced by quoted interstellar communications apparently modeled on internet newsgroup postings.

Feb 14, 2012

Excellent big-idea science fiction. Great characters, aliens, storyline.

Feb 26, 2011

I found this a very interesting book with a lot of new and, to me, novel ideas. I had never heard of Venge before finding this book in a used book free pile somewhere, but have gone on to read many of his books. This is still my favorite. If you like it, "A fire On the Deep" might be of interest as well. It has come connection but is again full of new and different ideas.

Dec 19, 2010

One of my very favorite science fiction novels. Also try Deepness in the Sky by Vinge, and there is a third book hopefully being released in 2011.

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