Vernor Vinge has been writing terrific hard SF since the early 1960s, and in the last eight years his career has taken off. Vinge is unique among sf writers in that he is asked to speak to groups of scientists in many fields, especially the field of artificial intelligence, which he dealt with in his groundbreaking short novel, True Names (1981). But even before his first novel, Grimm's World (1969) was published, he was writing short stories that brought him to the attention of the SF reading public. Here is the real deal, all the stories, including such classics as ""The Ungoverned"" which was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula Awards, ""The Blabber,"" the first story set in his now famous ""Zones of Thought"" universe, and many other wonderful stories, accompanied by the author's own comments about the stories, the circumstances that led to their creation, and other fascinating information by and about Vernor Vinge. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Though probably best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels (A Fire Upon the Deep; A Deepness in the Sky), Vinge, a mathematician and computer scientist, began his writing career with short stories, most of which are gathered in this not quite definitive collection (where are cyberpunk precursor "True Names" and "Grimm's Story" ), along with one new entry, the pop culture-weighted "Fast Times at Fairmont High." Vinge's stories are prime hard SF and also rich with ideas, if often weak on character. Some are also quite dated now, such as the Cold War setting of "Bookworm, Run!" where the future rests on an escaped experimental subject, the first "person" enhanced by direct computer link. "The Accomplice" predicts computer animation the hard way, while "The Whirligig of Time" anticipates space-based missile defenses like SDI. Vinge frames many stories, such as "The Ungoverned" and "Conquest by Defeat," which consider future anarchies, with the idea of a technological singularity the belief that we can't accurately predict what life will be like after the creation of "intelligences greater than our own." Too short to be a story, "Win a Nobel Prize" is a humorous deal with the devil with a biotech twist. "The Barbarian Princess," with its sly pokes at some of the oldest tropes of speculative fiction writing (and editing!), maintains all the color and charm of its original publication. Vinge's comments surrounding each story provide entertaining counterpoint. This collection is a bonanza for hard SF fans, particularly those who prize challenging extrapolation. (Jan. 3) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 16, 2002
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Excerpt from The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge by Vernor Vinge
The year 1965 is special for me: that's when I made my first science-fiction sale. In the next few years I sold a number of stories. My ideal length was around twelve thousand words. Shorter than that wasn't enough space to make the point of the story, and with longer stories, I had trouble coordinating characters and detail. Eventually, I became comfortable with novel-length stories. Most of my short fiction has been anthologized, stories scattered through many books: orphans moving from home to home. Publishers are reluctant to do one-author collections -- with happy exceptions, such as the Baen collections in the 1980s and now this Tor collection in 2001.