Books by Vernor Vinge

Vernor Steffen Vinge (pronounced VIN-jee, rhyming with 'stingy') (born February 10, 1944) is a mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction author who is best known for his Hugo award-winning novel A Fire Upon the Deep, and for his 1993 essay "Th

Released: Oct. 1, 2011

Long-awaited sequel—19 years later—to Vinge's tremendous, far-future spectacular, A Fire Upon the Deep (1992). Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Satisfying back-of-the-house tour of a career of mostly well-thought-out meditations on technological innovation and political experimentation."
The Hugo Award winner of 1990's "hard" SF revival collects 17 of his shorter works—while recalling the editors who published them and how they shaped his career. In the late 1960s, when most SF writers were experimenting with literary techniques and flashy prose styles, Vinge (computer science/San Diego State) began writing a series of shorter works that clung to the pulp magazine traditions of the 1950s: stories soundly based on existing science that speculated on the social and political effects technology might have in the near future. His most famous piece, "True Names," predicted the Internet, and is not included here, but the equally prescient "The Accomplice," which in 1967 envisioned computer animation, is. Though Vinge self-effacingly dismisses it as a "most irritating combination of embarrassing gaffes and neat insights," the story forms a subtext for others that follow, asking to what extent science fiction can be rooted in scientific truths (which Vinge believes lead to unpredictable paradoxes) and still soar with the thrills and adventure of romantic fantasy. Thus, we learn that Vinge learned to "turn extrapolations sideways" to invent the more fantastic zones of thought found in his Hugo-winning Across Realtime series, while he was writing "The Blabber," a short, surreal traipse through American pop culture. Also included: "Peddler's Apprentice," a collaboration with Vinge's ex-wife Joan; several salutes to editors John Campbell, Damon Knight, and Jim Frenkel; and a long chunk of a new, near-future novel (Fast Times at Fairmount High). Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Read it for the still-compelling novella; the rest is lagniappe."
Before William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" and, along with authors like Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson, forged our understanding of the virtual landscape, Hugo-winning Vinge (A Deepness in the Sky, 1999, etc.) had presented the concept in the 30,000-word novella True Names. Read full book review >
Released: March 19, 1999

A distant prequel to Vinge's 1992 masterpiece, A Fire Upon the Deep, with a single character in common. Some 8,000 years hence, the Qeng Ho interstellar trading fleet investigates the enigmatic OnOff—a star that shines for 35 years, then extinguishes for 250; once understood, its weird physics may yield an improved star drive. Meantime, its single planet harbors intelligent aliens, the Spiders, divided into warring factions, but thought to be descendants of an advanced starfaring civilization. During the Dark, they survive frozen solid in pools of ice. Also arriving at OnOff are the acquisitive, ambitious Emergents. Cooperating at first, the Emergents later mount a treacherous sneak attack, defeating the traders and enslaving the survivors. The Emergents' overwhelming advantage is Focus, the result of a brain-infecting virus that can be induced to secrete mind-controlling chemicals. Those Focused are instilled with unswerving loyalty. The Emergents are led by a smiling deceiver, Tomas Nau, his sadistic assistant, Ritser Brughel, and personnel genius Anne Reynolt, once Nau's greatest adversary, now enslaved and Focused. The Qeng Ho resistance is thin, consisting of legendary genius and onetime leader Pham Nuwen, whose failed dream of a Qeng Ho galactic empire forced him into exile; young trader Ezh Vinh; and, secretly, Ezh's love, linguist Trixia Bonsol, now Focused and translating the Spiders' language. Both the Emergent and Qeng Ho fleets lost interstellar capability during the battle, so the humans must wait until the Spiders develop technology advanced enough to help them. As the OnOff star reignites, the Spiders emerge from their "deepnesses" and, galvanized by genius Sherkaner Underhill, burst into a frenzy of technological development. Nau plans to trick the Spiders into destroying themselves in a nuclear war. Pham, meanwhile, schemes to defeat Nau but sees in Focus the key to realizing his old dreams of empire. Huge, intricate, and ingenious, with superbly realized aliens: a chilling, spellbinding dramatization of the horrors of slavery and mind control. Read full book review >
A FIRE UPON THE DEEP by Vernor Vinge
Released: April 1, 1992

Vast, riveting far-future saga involving evil gods, interstellar war, and manipulative aliens, from the author of The Peace War and the splendid Marooned in Realtime. An unknown being or force has partitioned the universe into ``zones of thought'': at the bottom is the Slow Zone, where intelligence is modest and the speed of light a limiting factor; in the Beyond, where multi-light-speed ultradrive travel is possible, thousands of smart races flourish; and the Transcend is inhabited by godlike Powers, to which state many races of the Beyond aspire. A human colony of the High Beyond, the Straumli Realm, experiments with an ancient database, thereby unwittingly unleashing an unstoppable, enslaving predator, the Blight. The civilizations of the High Beyond realize their peril when even transcendent Powers prove no match for the Blight. One ship alone survives the Straumli disaster; fleeing into the Low Beyond, the ship crash-lands on a planet inhabited by Tines, multi-bodied, pack-minded aliens with a warlike medieval culture. Two human children, Johanna and Jefri, survive—only to become pawns in a Tine power struggle. Up in the Middle Beyond, meanwhile, the realization grows that the escaped Straumli ship may contain something that will help defeat the Blight. So a multi-species rescue mission is launched, led by human researcher Ravni and by Pham, a construct once part of a Power now eaten by the Blight; close behind the rescuers come the forces of the Blight. No summary can do justice to the depth and conviction of Vinge's ideas. The overall concept astonishes; the aliens are developed with memorable skill and insight; the plot twists and turns with unputdownable tension. A masterpiece of universe- building. Read full book review >