Someone — I cannot recall who and Googling has not helped — used to assert that each Vernor Vinge novel was significantly better than the last. I don’t think this is quite true1, but it is often enough true to be useful. The corollary is that the older the Vinge novel, the more likely it is to be bad. Now you must be wondering: just how bad is the worst Vernor Vinge novel?
I have 1976’s The Witling at hand, so I can tell you the answer to that question:
“Pretty damn bad.”