enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep (#2)

I read this book about 1-May-2014. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1992. This note was last modified Monday, 19-May-2014 16:03:48 PDT.

This is book 1 of the "Zones of Thought" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Been ages since I've read this. I'm nearly settled on adding this to my best five SF list, and am rereading it with that in mind.

An annotated version of this was included in the 1993 Hugo / Nebula Award Anthology (a commercial project by Brad Templeton), which I have a copy of. I suppose I need to see that it's still readable, though, and archive it if so. Excuse me a moment...good, still entirely readable. And the RTF files of the annoteded version of this book even seem to read correctly in Libre Office. I wonder if they'll convert with Calibre into an epub?

And here's more from Brad about that project and his other early e-publishing work.

Wow, those first 26 pages are among the most astonishingly dense SF I've ever read. And I like the early stuff on the Tine's world (I remember that I found the religious fanaticism very wearing by the end).

Hey, here's Twirlip of the Mists! (P. 143 in the Tor hardcover.) Ravna doesn't finish reading the first message, getting sidetracked at the question of whether humans have 3 pairs of legs. So we don't even see the rest of the message.

There's a theory around that only Twirlip actually understands what's going on, and everything he says is accurate to within reasonable limits. We'll have to keep an eye on him! (What? Hexapodal humans? Just a minor confusion; the Skroderiders have 6 wheels. To Twirlip, who probably lives floating in a gas giant's atmosphere, that's not much difference. And the language path shows quite a few translations before the version we got.)

We're also at the point where people on the Flenserist and Woodcarver sides both think they have excellent intelligence into the other camp. The Flenseriests are right; at least, what the Woodcarvers find out from the computer tablet makes its way to them quickly.

And here's Alliance for the Defense popping up on p. 154, with their tagline "Death to Vermin". Meaning us; they think humans are the race subverted by the blight long ago. They talk about it as a theory, though, not tht they have actual knowledge from back then.

Steel, and the Flenser domain, is really consistently displayed as a sociopathic authoritarian regime. Steel doesn't consider any other pack as having moral significance, only possible utility or danger (usually both; he's at least smart enough to notice that capable packs can be dangerous). Woodcarver personally is shown as largely humane and interesting. And each still thinks they have near-perfect intelligence about events in the other's domain. At least one of them is going to turn out to be painfully wrong!

Oh, and the Flenserists have so far put over their story onto Ravna and Pham.

This time through, I didn't find the tine's world parts nearly so dragging. That's nice. Steel, Vendacious, and parts of Flenser are still pretty awful people, but this time I didn't feel I'd exceeded my horror limits so badly.

The tines think they're smarter than us. I wonder if that's true? At this point, they're going to be developing up from medieval level on a planet with three intelligent races (they have over a hundred human children in cold sleep, plus the skroderiders planted out in the islands). And they have the child's computer, and anything they can salvage from the two ships. Things might move rather fast.

The universe is, of course, saved by the barest skin of some teeth. Countermeasure is an amazing mechanism, designed to operate in the Slowness, but designed using transcendent mentality. It manages to co-opt the power of the star to cause such a huge zone surge that it goes up and catches the main Blight itself. Kind of a lot of collateral damage (the damages were in huge numbers of billions of sophonts before the surge), but Blight is a nasty one, and nobody had the slightest idea how else to deal with it. I wonder how many times this sequence is going to repeat? We assume it's happened before, but we don't really know how often.

Little Annoyances

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David Dyer-Bennet