A Fire Upon the Deep

Posted by barb on Mar 20, 2004 in Books |

by Vernor Vinge

Wow! This is epic sci-fi writing at it’s best — I have to put it up on my list with Poul Anderson’s Starfarers.

The novel opens with the explosive creation of a destructive “higher power”. Out of the explosion, the Olsndots escape with their two children, Jefri and Johanna, and the children of everyone at the station in cold sleep. They are forced to land on an unknown planet, and in a skirmish with the medieval natives of the planet the Olsndot adults are killed and Jefri and Johanna are separated.

Across the galaxy, Ravna Bergsndot is working as an archivist on Relay. The galaxy is hearing reports of the new “higher power”, now called The Blight because of it’s destructive ways. Ravna receives a communication from Jefri — communication from a starship present at the creation of The Blight. Her bosses are very interested in getting their hands on the records of the starship in hopes of finding a way to defeat The Blight.

Ravan is enlisted for this rescue, along with two Skroderiders — a plant-like race made intelligent and mobile by wheeled wagons with technology beyond that of much of the galaxy (including the Skroderiders). Also along for the mission is Pham Nuwen, a human cobbled together from the remains of members of an ancient failed mission frozen in a junk yard near Relay.

This epic novel follows the trials of Johanna and Jefri, embroiled in the politics of a medieval world, and of the rescuers in their ill-fated trek to save the children and the spacecraft.

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