The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge
by Vernor Vinge 

List Price: $27.95 
Hardcover - 416 pages (November 2001)
Tor Books; ISBN: 0312873735
Review by Asta Sinusas
Check out this book at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

It took all my editorial restraint to let Asta Review this collection, as I cut my teeth on many of the stories within, and if I had three wishes, one of them would surely be to write a short story like "Run, Bookworm, Run". If you've been reading SF for a while, you may run across stories you fondly remember, but have forgotten who wrote, only to be pleasantly surprised to find them here, as Vernor Vinge is responsible for  a considerable percentageof the best SF stories written. I have to agree with Asta that this is a collection worth collecting. - Ernest Lilley, Editor

vvinge.jpg (33218 bytes)Also: SFRevu Interview with Vernor Vinge and Other SFReviews of his work. 

A little while back we ran an interview with VV, and reviews of A Deepness in the Sky as well as a True Names collection that are well worth taking a look at.

Vernor Vinge
A Deepness in the Sky
True Names
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Review: The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge by Vernor Vinge 
Review by Asta Sinusas

For those who are fans of Vernor Vinge, run to your nearest bookstore or computer and buy this collection now. For those who aren't familiar with Vernor Vinge and are fans of harder, but not bleeding edge, SF, I strongly urge you to do the same. It is a wonderful addition to any SF library. It is one of those rare finds that one can sit down with to pick and choose to spend a few minutes with an old favorite or to discover a new one. The stories in the collection show the range and depth of the writer over the span of his career and contain brief comments and anecdotes from the author on the sale of the story or the science behind it. Sometimes even difficulties in the writing process are mentioned. This gives invaluable insights to the aspiring writer and the confidence that even superstars had at one time the same difficulties as us mortals.

Some stories revolve around the capacities of computers like "The Accomplice" and "Long Shot". Still others show the preoccupations of the Cold War as in "'Bookworm, Run!'", "Bomb Scare", "Just Peace" as well as other mid to late 20th century political and societal concerns. Some, like "Gemstone" are more personal. Still others have hard boiled detective flair to them like in "Original Sin" and "The Science Fair". Other stories revolve around Vinge's fascination with war and how society will emerge from the chaos to create a new world order. The four that deal with this theme are "Apartness" "Conquest by Default" and "The Whirligig of Time". The last, "The Ungoverned" is also linked to two longer Vinge's "realtime" series and include the novels The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime. Later stories involve his "zones" series and include "The Blabber", and can also be seen in his full length (and Hugo award winning) novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky.

My favorite is a story called "Long Shot" in which a probe is given the ability to think and launched to the nearest star. It is Earth's last hope as the planet is destroyed by solar meltdown. The story relates how Ilse, as the computer is called, comes into being and her observations after her launch and test runs, as well as the exciting first part of the journey. Then come the centuries of endless drifting, and finally the increase in speed as she finally approaches her destination, her decision to gamble and ignore her programming, and whether or not Earth's last hope is doomed after all. The story is told in fractions of time. First in rapidly exponential sections, and then as Ilsa approaches destination, exponentially decreasing ratios. It is a tale told by a NASA scientist, full of rockets and distances, signifying in the end, Earth's last hope (my apologies to Shakespeare).

Don't think someone's going to buy it for you for the holidays. They'll get it with the intention of giving it to you and then happen to glance at it and the next thing you know, you'll have another pound of fruitcake to get rid of.

2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu