THE COLLECTED STORIES OF VERNOR VINGE

Vernor Vinge, Author . Tor $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-87373-8

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)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-285-63821-1
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-312-87584-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-1510-6
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