January 07, 2004

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

fireuponthedeep.jpgI felt like reading a good science fiction novel and since I'd read this one before I knew what I was getting. Humans have made contact with a vast array of alien species throughout the galaxy. But the galaxy doesn't work exactly like we think it does. It turns out that the speed of thought is a function of where you are in the galactic gravity well. From impossibly slow at the galactic core to transcendentally fast in the outer reaches. In the middle zones reside most of the intelligent species who are all connected by a faster-than-light communication and travel network.

In this setting, a small group of humans activate an artificial intelligence that they found in an old data cache. It's not a good AI and it starts trying to take over the galaxy. Some of the humans manage to escape before it becomes too strong. They become stranded on a planet down near the slow zones. On this planet they come in contact with an alien species on the cusp of achieving a technological culture.

While the small group of surviving humans are dealing with their low-tech shipwreck situation, the rest of the galaxy is trying to deal with the AI. They suspect that the fleeing humans have the key to stopping it, but no one knows exactly where they are.

The book interleaves the two story lines into a fast-paced story with mystery, palace intrigue, and pan-galactic political machinations. Very fun.

Posted by jeffy at January 7, 2004 10:16 PM