A Fire upon the Deep is a rather classic science-fiction – it takes place in space and or different planets and it is largely based on things working there differently than on Earth. The biggest difference to most other similar works is the generous amount of things that are different; many others would just keep each idea and make a book out of it, while Vinge just blows everything on a single story. Moreover, things aren't different just for the sake of being different, but with sensible impact on the story. There obviously lies Vinge's greatest strength: he is extraordinarily good not only in making up alien concepts but also in working out the seemingly boring details and making them interesting. In all three books, there is also a “real-time action” story, which is by no means bad, but it simply pales in comparison with how good the world-building aspect is. That is the main reason I found Children weaker, because they take place in an already established world – even though it does take many things significantly further than before, it still reads mostly like some extra chapters to Fire. (Also I find some of the constructs related to Tines to be the least internally consistent and Children happens wholy on the Tinish world.)
And it is also why Deepness is so great – not only does it build an interesting universe, it builds our universe in a thoughtful and consistent way. If you have ever raged how unrealistic space-travel in sci-fi literature is, chance is you're gonna love Deepness to the bone. With coldsleep being the only possibly impossible technology, Vinge builds a long-reaching space-faring lore deeply based on things that seem to be technically possible for us to have one day – and he makes sure to not conveniently sweep uncomfortable details under the rug in the process. He is not afraid to let a spacefleet sit on a planet for a couple of decades needed to rebuild technology and train personnel and the acknowledgment that to build huge structures you need a whole industrial infrastructure is even somewhat central to the story. Yes, the book blatantly copies Fire's successful schema of parallel space- and planet- based stories, with yet another quirky alien society, but can you really complain about something that works so well? And yes, the main story arc isn't the most groundbreaking one, and the flashback-based non-linearity is a well known cliché (not to mention the “plot twist” with Pham Nuwen's entrance, which you see coming a hundred pages ahead) – but then again, it works so well!
Deepness is a pretty thick book for a sci-fi novel, but it consistently builds a history that spans millenia and you really do need space to do that properly. The backstory parts of the book were some of the most enjoyable reading I ever had - I am not a very immersive reader, but in some sense, reading Deepness left me a convinced Nuwenist and I am still slightly angry about the betrayal at Brisgo Gap. It is hard to explain, but it just feels like the right kind of history the universe should have and that Vinge just thinks about exactly the same things that bother me when I imagine a realistic space-faring civilization.
So, my friends, if you consider the topics interesting, then, by the Powers, I urge you to read the books (or, at least read the wiki page on the Zones and then read Deepness). Then we can use this thread for some real talk: Is focus slavery? Would you have out-of-phase children? And most importantly, are you mad that you were born in the fucking Slow zone?
It is an edged cliché that the world is most pleasant in the years of a Waning Sun. It is true that the weather is not so driven, that everywhere there is a sense of slowing down, and most places experience a few years where the summers do not burn and the winters are not yet overly fierce. It is the classic time of romance. It’s a time that seductively beckons higher creatures to relax, postpone. It’s the last chance to prepare for the end of the world...