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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Continuing with the Zones of Thought books, A Fire Upon the Deep comes next. It’s not so much a post-singularity story in the same universe as it is the notion that the singularity is more a geography (if not a geology) than an impulse response. This treatment is novel and relatively unique within the genre. I haven’t come across another universe that links proximity to the galactic core to position along the technological singularity. It falls a bit into origin mythology (Stross does a bit as well), while leaving a lot up to the imagination.

Unlike Deepness, I think this book is a lot rougher in some areas. There’s a ton of explicit use of units in Fire that don’t come with the decoder and preface. So, one will come across “miles” and “feet” and “centimeters.” Far too many things mentioned have clearly anthropomorphic origins and it just feels a little … careless. The newsgroup/mailing list gimmick is bordering on anachronistic already.

Overall, though, I think it’s still worth a read, if it comes in as the weaker of the two. 7/10.

With that said. Avoid the Kindle version of this book. It’s a digital port of the fully annotated version by the author. It comes with thousands of notes that Vinge wrote while creating the book … which means that pages and paragraphs (several times mid-paragraph, often enough) are broken up by “Note 1325.” It’s really irritating and makes the entire thing a visual clusterfuck. Further, there are a myriad of transcription errors and the thing is badly in need of editing. Prefer the dead tree version for now.