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When I first read this I didn't know Vinge's work all that well, and now I've read a few more of his books I can spot some of the standard elements - viewpoint characters who are young or even children, dark ill-explained conspiracies in the background, slightly deus ex machina ending. But what makes this book special is the alien Tines, a lovely concept of packs of four to eight dog-like aliens with mini-hive minds, and the political economy of what happens to their pre-industrial culture when two different factions rescue children off a crashed earth ship and start developing human technology to try and defeat each other with. (This is in the context of a bigger galactic power game, whose details I really failed to grasp, affecting the rescue ship.) It goes on a bit for what is in it, but generally a good read; I much preferred it to the prequel, A Deepness in the Sky, which also won the Hugo several years later.

A Fire Upon The Deep shared the Hugo with Connie Willis' Doomsday Book (which I personally preferred) and beat KSR's Red Mars, which is on my current reading list, Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang, which is somewhere on the to-read shelves, and Steel Beach by John Varley, which I haven't otherwise heard of. More remarkable perhaps is the absence of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, surely at least as important a book as any of the above, from any of the short lists.

Comments

autopope
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:10 am (UTC)
My current reading matter is "Orphans of the Sky".

Due out early next year, it's a direct sequel to "A Fire Upon the Deep". And yes, there are Tines.
communicator
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
Great news
fanf
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
Is the Heinlein ref deliberate?
andrewducker
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:34 am (UTC)
Best news I've heard all week!
seawasp
Aug. 13th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
I thought the title was slightly different when you mentioned it before. Is it actually duplicating RAH's title?
nancylebov
Aug. 13th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
Wikipedia has it as Children of the Sky.
autopope
Aug. 13th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
Wikipedia is more accurate than my memory.
andrewducker
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Also, I was hoping for "A Sky Full Of Fire" to be the title of the next one, to bring the linkage all the way round :->
yea_mon
Aug. 13th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Huzzah!

Also, I think there's a short story set in an earlier iteration of the AFUD universe that features the Tines, "The Blabber".

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