Unbeknownst to the young Blight, however, two programs, copies of the minds of two expedition members, have Transcended and lurk in the local net. Unable to stop the Blight, they settle instead for devising a risky scheme to activate the countermeasure against the Blight that is included in the archive.
With some understanding of what they have unleashed, a few humans escape from the research colony before the Blight regains its full capabilities and absorbs it; of the two vessels, only one successfully escapes.
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That vessel travels to the edge of the Slow Zone, where the Blight would have difficulty operating. They take with them some semi-living information about their enemy later labeled Countermeasure from the archive, though they do not know what to do with it. They land their sleeper ship , with a cargo of children in suspended animation , on a planet with a medieval -level civilization of dog-like creatures the Tines who exist as small packs of individuals. Each individual consciousness is generated by the "marriage" or enlistment of several Tines, who coordinate their thoughts via high-frequency sound.
A single Tine is about as smart as a clever dog; two to three can think as well as a young human child; four to six is the standard and possess human or greater intelligence and self-awareness and personalities; under normal circumstances packs that are much larger degrade into barely-coherent mobs, though a rational pack of eight is not unheard of and one such pack plays a large role.
Other configurations are possible for specialized roles. Examples include long strung-out sentry lines and garrisoned slave teams. The cargo ship carried most of the High Lab's children in "coldsleep boxes" - boxes which induce suspended animation.
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The boxes are rapidly failing, and so the surviving adults begin unloading them onto the hospitable near-Earth world they had landed on. However, they are quickly ambushed and fall victim to a long-lived conflict between two Tine nations who fight over the ship.
The other group is led by the Woodcarver, so named for the artistic talent that first made her famous. Flenser had developed a small but powerful kingdom that specialized in subverting and taking over neighboring countries.
To escape assassination by a mob after a failed attempt to take over such a country, Flenser's component bodies had been dispersed into two or more packs, one of which is Tyrathect, whose other members had previously been part of a naive Flenserist school teacher. It is later learned that no other parts of Flenser escaped. Tyrathect makes her roundabout way back to Flenser's stronghold, traveling in the company of two other packs: an itinerant pilgrim and an enthusiastic dilettante inventor who fancies himself a spy for his home country, the Long Lakes Republic.
They observe the ambush of the humans. The pilgrim and the spy resolve to steal the only survivor they see: Johanna Olsndot, a girl about 12 years old.
Because of the return of Flenser, the troops are distracted, and the two manage to escape with Johanna aboard a Flenserist boat. Unbeknownst to them, Johanna's younger brother Jefri also survived, but remains in the hands of the Flenserists. The two groups begin frantically attempting to gain their respective human's trust, and exploit them to develop cannon and other technology. The Woodcarvers begin with the assistance of an educational databank.
Lord Steel's group begins developing radio and superior cannon with the help of Jefri and his communications with the outside world through the ship, as well as a well-placed spy in Woodcarver's camp. Each sibling is unaware of the other's survival and alliance with opposing groups. The ship had been transmitting through its FTL ultrawave apparatus ever since it landed, and its message eventually reaches Relay, thanks to Ravna Bergsndot and the Old One.
Ravna Bergsndot was working as the only human intern at the Vrinimi Organization, a vast, ancient, and wealthy communication and information provider conceptualized as much like an ISP of the late s or early s based in the system of Relay. A benign Power called "Old One" because it is known to be over 10 years old; Powers rarely maintain contact with the Beyond for more than a few years makes contact, seeking information about the Blight and especially about humans in general who had released the Blight. It asks for Ravna to accompany its vessel back to the Transcend, but Ravna refuses: she fears being smeared across a "million million death cubes ", and has learned extreme wariness of Powers from her "Applied Theology" courses, as the study of Powers is called; the Vrinimi Organization supports her, even though the Old One was offering to set up an oracle for them.
A Fire Upon the Deep is the big, breakout book that fulfills the promise of Vinge's career to date: a gripping tale of galactic war told on a cosmic scale After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race Rainbows End is an epic adventure that encapsulates in a single extended family the challenges of the technological advances of the first quarter of the 21st century Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy Vernor Vinge.
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