Other reviewers go into more detail about the plot, but that's the gist. The other aspect of this book that's different from similar space operas is the idea of the Zones of Thought. Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race. Responding to the crippled ship's distress signal, a rescue mission races against time to retrieve the children and recover the weapon they need to prevent the universe from being changed forever. The human race must set aside its own inner conflicts to rebuild their alliance with the Ildiran Empire for the survival of the galaxy. His many books also include Marooned in Realtime and The Peace War.
But, frankly, Vinge is forgiven these devices to make his plot work. There are some great ideas in this book, but they're buried under a nonsensical plot that fails to impress. The closer one travels to the galactic core, the less technology and even intelligence are able to thrive. You aren't really going to name him Lord Steel, are you? I initially found The Zones a silly and unnecessary creation. He used cartoony voices for a number of the alien characters that made it increasingly difficult to take the book seriously. But the last third redeems it, picking up the pace again and serving a very satisfying ending.
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. A Fire Upon The Deep has everything a sci-fi fan could possibly want, thrilling adventure, strange aliens and their cultures, galactic and planetary scale world building. After a hostile confrontation with the planet's inhabitants, the medieval Tines, brother and sister Jefri and Johanna Olsndot are separated between two groups of warring natives, each of which wants to exploit the visitors' knowledge of technology to defeat the other. In practice, in the book, they're very cool and they're culture is a lot of fun to explore. I'm telling you now that you need to approach this with no real concept of what is in store for you. This came very close to sitting next to Dune and Book of the New Sun in my top-tier of my favorite sci-fi books, so I recommend it to any science fiction fan. I've copied the summary below: 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.
The way around this is via controlled inbreeding, either by using selective breeding of others to create a puppy with particular attributes or to have the members continually have sex among themselves. The audiobook is narrated by Peter Larkin, who has a very amiable reading tone, but felt relentlessly upbeat and would have benefitted from more emotional variation depending on the story tone. Meanwhile, others are racing the Blight through space to get to the Tines' planet to find out if the stranded ship really holds the key to stopping the Blight. Three fleets converge in the chase, and it begins to feel interminable very quickly. He presents us with a benevolent race, tailor made for betrayal. This is sooo close to being a 5-star book for me.
I initially found The Zones a silly and unnecessary c I had high hopes for Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep because I love sci-fi set in space but, while it might make a decent fantasy novel, it is a poor excuse for science fiction. They must remain in the transcend to function, and so the 'lower' lifeforms are protected from the wraph of their all-powerful whims. Part of what is so great about your book is that you are subverting our expectations about what is necessary for us to empathize with others. At the center of the action is Robert Gu, a former Alzheimer's victim who has regained his mental and physical health through radical new therapies, and his family. While I looked forward to the space ship portions, I found the world of the Tines a bit tedious, with all its focus on planet level politics and warfare. There are those who fear it. I almost regret not buying the paperback for this reason, so my minds voice could capture the suspense and all seriousness of the situations that often gets lost in elocution by Mr Larkin.
Whether you're a neurologist at Mass General or an alfalfa farmer in rural Dakota, I can promise you that it will alter the way you see the universe. Where you are situated in those zones affects your intellectual and technological capabilities: The unthinking depths: only basic forms of life can survive here. The story centers around two groups of characters. I really liked that the heroine was a librarian, so her knowledge of how to find information and act on it made her critical to the humans' survival. I'm already having trouble remembering why it took so many pages to tell this story.
The world-building is so convincing, I actually was frequently disturbed by it, which is kinda why I can't love it, which is actually a testament to it's brilliance. A Fire Upon the Deep had both, and suffered a bit for it, at least for me, as I found the pacing uneven. The bobbles from The Peace War are still an important component in this novel. After that it was a chapter or two here or there stretching the whole thing out over 2+ weeks. Cooperating at first, the Emergents later mount a treacherous sneak attack, defeating the traders and enslaving the survivors. The Blight is chasing them. Some humans meddling with an artefact in the low transcend, wake up an Evil Power.
Please read the following sentence twice: This is an absolutely fantastic book. I guess fanatical is a bad personality trait, even for dogs. Can this really be a five star book? The prologue about 7 pages is damn nigh incomprehensible, stuffed to the gills with neologism and tech terms, yet somehow quite intriguing. On the one hand we have classic Space Opera and on the other good old-fashioned Planetary Romance. I mean, from an intellectual standpoint, this is brilliant. Unfortunately, while such inbreeding creates a centuries-old stable personality, it also results in sickly, infirm or deformed pack members. The tines were a kind-of interesting construction, though mass minds have been done before.