Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Fire Upon the Deep

A Fire Upon the Deep is the kind of SF I like. It is not an excuse for The Human Heart's Struggle With Itself, or about somebody's conflict with his father, it's a big story with very cool ideas. An example is an alien species, which looks like a large dog mostly. And when you have just one, it's about as intelligent as a dog too. But when they run in their native state, small packs, they communicate by hyper-sound signals, and their minds build up into a super-mind, very intelligent and civilized. If the pack gets separated beyond how far sound can reach, the mind breaks down. 
Another example is the idea that the closer you get to the galactic center, the more thought and radio-communication slow down, and vice versa. So nearer the centre, it is more primitive and very slow, but outwardly you have some super-civilizations which the main galaxy have no chance of even understanding. 


Anonymous said...

That doesn't sound like such a great idea - just an insect colony with dogs. Meh.

ce9999 said...

I read this way back when it first came out, and the thing which struck me about it at the time was that it was the first novel I'd read in which the internet (in the form which it was mostly known then, which was basic text email and Usenet) plays a significant role. I thought that was hugely cool, especially because whenever I tried to explain this stuff to anyone, all I got were blank looks. :)

The dog creatures I thought were conceptually extremely interesting, but I had a hard time enjoying them as protagonists. I've found that I usually have that difficulty when protagonists aren't human beings.

There's a sequel to this book. I forget the title, but it's not hard to find. It wasn't as good, IMHO, although probably worth reading. Some of the difficulty I had with it was that I didn't encounter it until long after my attention span had been ruined by the internet (I find it virtually impossible to read books anymore), so that surely colored my perception of it.

Vinge's best work is the two-novel series of "The Peace War" and "Marooned in Realtime." I believe there's an omnibus edition containing both, although I forget the name it's listed under. Both novels together are among my all time sci fi faves.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thank you.

Yes, I liked the idea of having to super-compress the Net communications, because the connections were so ultra-slow where they were.

I read a lot of books as audio books, I find that very relaxing. I finish more books that way.

Ken said...

I found some of the ideas interesting, but the plot line was generally fairly predictable. Yes, they win in the end. It gave the impression of being a made for teenagers novel. Also it was overly long, and I really don't know why I finished it, maybe because I'd read so far.