Vernor Vinge has won five Hugo Awards, two of them in the Zones of Thought series: A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Known for his rigorous hard-science approach to his science fiction, he became an iconic figure among cybernetic scientists with the publication in 1981 of his novella "True Names," which is considered a seminal, visionary work of Internet fiction. His many books also include Marooned in Realtime, Rainbows End and The Peace War.
In "Fast Times at Fairmont High," original to this volume, hard sf veteran Vinge (A Deepness in the Sky) takes a look at the high school of the future at exam time. That story is accompanied by 16 others that span the years 1966-2000, including classics such as "The Ungoverned" and "The Blabber," as well as tales published only in periodicals. Vinge demonstrates his keen grasp of a wide variety of styles and subjects in a collection that belongs in most sf collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"A masterful novel, complex in style and plot, heavy with science and social speculation . . . . Vinge is truly an original writer." --NOVA Express on A Deepness in the Sky
"Thoughtful space opera at its best, this book delivers everything it promises in terms of galactic scope, audacious concepts, and believable characters both human and nonhuman." --The New York Times Book Review on Fire Upon the Deep
"True science fiction and a delight." --Publishers Weekly on True Names
"No summary can do justice to the depth and conviction of Vinge's ideas." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on A Fire Upon the Deep
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.