A Fire upon the Deep Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What could steal the secrets the Straumli archeologists uncover?

2. Who does Steel enter the ship?

3. Who is badly wounded in the fighting?

4. What do the Olsndots set up?

5. What melts the coldsleep boxes?

Short Essay Questions

1. What do Pham and Ravna think is behind the ambush by the Riders at Saint Rihndell's Repair Harbor?

2. Where are the scientists from and what are they doing?

3. About what does Twirlip of the Mists wonder and what is the Alliance for the Defense's response?

4. Describe Johanna's deepening connection to and understanding of the people in the Woodcarver domain.

5. What is happening on the OOB as it enters the Middle of the Beyond?

6. Describe Lord Steel.

7. Why is the trip to rescue Jefri going to take longer and what does Ravna do to help Jefri because of the longer time?

8. How is the curse of the Pharoah's tomb related to what the humans from the Straumli Realm are doing on Earth?

9. What does Ravna do to keep Pham from slipping back into godshatter and what is Pham's response?

10. What is happening in the Hidden Island Kingdom as OOB is making its way to rescue Jefri? What does Pham suspect about the radio request from Jefri?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Discuss one of the following:

1. Compare/contrast Johanna Olnsdot to her brother, Jefri. How are they alike? How are they different? Do you think their differences are mainly due to their age differences? Compare how each initially react to the sentient beings of the planet where they land.

2. Compare/contrast Queen Woodcarver to Lord Steel. How are they alike? How are they different? How do their "world views" differ? Who is the better leader/ruler? Under which one would you rather live?

3. Compare/contrast Ravna to Pham. How are they alike? How are they different? Who is more likeable? Approachable? Compassionate? Intellectual?

4. Compare/contrast Greenstalk to Blueshell. How are they alike? How are they different? Are they more alike than they are different? Why or why not? Are either or both trustworthy? Are they likeable? How do they differ from other sentient beings introduced in the novel?

Essay Topic 2

In the Prologue, narration writes that the scientists know some intelligence is watching their work and waiting to pounce. They know that, like earlier humans, they are playing with fire, but the potential reward is tremendous. Discuss the following:

1. Considering the billions of sentient creatures that are wiped out of existence by this intelligence, could any potential reward be worth the possibility of unleashing an evil intelligence?

2. In the early part of the 21st century, Artificial Intelligence is just now being looked at as something that is possible, though many have fantasized about the idea for decades. Do you think the rewards of developing a machine with artificial intelligence is worth the risks? Or are there risks? Compare/contrast the possible rewards with the possible risks of developing artificial intelligence.

3. Do you think artificial intelligence could actually develop into an evil egomaniac? What is the artificial intelligence's main concern when the humans are working with it in the prologue?

4. Much of what is developed in labs in the "real" world has both a positive side and negative side. Consider the side effects of some medicines that can alleviate or cure disease. How does one determine when the balance of good swings too far towards the negative aspects?

Essay Topic 3

The time this novel takes place at least 5 billion years after our present time. Discuss the following:

1. Do you think technology will have advanced as far or farther than that shown in A Fire Upon the Deep?

2. Vinge sets the novel so far into the future of at least 5 billion years that it seems cultures might be incomprehensible from the present, yet much of the world of that time is still familiar enough to understand. Do you think this fact works for you as a reader? Do you think Vinge might have done better to have set the novel not so far into the future? Why or why not?

3. History seems to be cyclic; major civilizations have arisen and fallen just over the course of human recorded history, much less history before anything is recorded. Given that fact, do you think it is likely that there have been many cycles of history and civilizations in the 5 billion years between now and when A Fire upon the Deep takes place? Do you think many of these civilizations would actually seem far more incomprehensible than the universe which exists at the time of A Fire upon the Deep? Why or why not? What might one of these almost incomprehensible civilizations be like?

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