Reviews: Vinge, Joan D.

Why is there no The Complete Collected Works of Joan D. Vinge?

Eyes of Amber — Joan D. Vinge

I hope to review all of the essential short story, novelette, and novella collections published by Joan D. Vinge. You may ask what subset of existing Vinge collections are on that list; the answer would be “all three of them.” It would be easier if such a book as The Complete Collected Short Works of Joan D. Vinge were to exist … but it does not. Alas.

I will begin with 1979’s Eyes of Amber and Other Stories, which contains, not only the novelette Eyes of Amber, but several other stories. As advertised.

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If not for that interfering cop, BZ Gundhalinu.

The Summer Queen — Joan D. Vinge
Snow Queen Cycle, book 3

As has been previously established, I am very fond of Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen. I was delighted to hear that Tor Books is bringing it back into print, after a lapse of fifteen years1. Granted, it is being republished without the wonderful original Leo and Diane Dillon cover,

but this Michael Whelan kid Tor tapped to provide the new cover


seems like he has potential.

What better way to celebrate the re-release of a book I like than with a shiny new review!

Alas, unaware that The Snow Queen was going to be re-released this year, I reviewed the novel in question last year.

So what you’re actually going to get today is a review of one of the two sequels, 1991’s The Summer Queen, plus! extra! bonus! exhortations to buy both The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen.

The Hegemony has temporarily retreated from Tiamat, forced to abandon the only source of the Water of Life, the elixir which reverses aging. Tiamat’s twin suns are again nearing the black hole around which they orbit and the hyperspace route to Tiamat is unstable and unsafe. The Hegemony (the miniscule successor to a fallen galactic Empire) is forced to leave Tiamat to its own devices for the next century. Time enough for Tiamat’s Summer Queen, Moon Dawntreader, to encourage the two cultures of her world to modernize. If she succeeds, Tiamat will no longer be defenseless in the face of superior technology.

Or at least that was Moon’s plan. She’d have gotten away with it too, if not for that interfering cop, BZ Gundhalinu.

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In this case my tears are for all of you who will never read these stories

Heaven Chronicles — Joan D. Vinge
Heaven Chronicles

Whereas Vinge’s Psion was written in Andre Norton mode, and her Snow Queen was a Space Opera retelling of a fairy tale, Heaven Chronicles contains three works — a novel and two novellas that have been merged into one longer novella — that are all pure, hard SF. However, this volume contains features such as plot and characters not normally (well, not necessarily) found within slide-rule SF. The result is a solid collection of stories I would strongly recommend you purchase if only any of them were actually in print.

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In the tradition of Dune and Norstrilia, Tiamat: grumpy natives, secret of immortality

The Snow Queen — Joan D. Vinge
Snow Queen Cycle, book 1

Due to injuries and poor health, Joan D. Vinge has not been prolific as of late; her most recent non-tie-in novel was 2000’s Tangled Up in Blue. In the 1970s her body of work was not so large as some but that series of novellas was enough to establish Vinge as an author of note. 1980’s The Snow Queen was only her second novel, after 1978’s Outcasts of Heaven’s Belt and it earned Vinge the 1981 Hugo for Best Novel. For good reason.

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The Gutter Level View of an Interstellar Plutocracy

Psion — Joan D. Vinge
Cat, book 1

This is the book that made me ask on Facebook if it makes sense to talk about an Andre Norton lineage of SF writers. In many ways it’s what you might get if Norton had been a better writer. In others, it’s what you might get if the X-Men used a draft to gain recruits.

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