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The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge Paperback – August 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

A career-spanning collection of science fiction from one of the field's most highly regarded writers, The Collected Stories contains all of Vinge's published short fiction with the exception of two stories--almost 40 years of work including his first professional sale and his most recent novella (published here for the first time). It's a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable review of his career, made richer by the addition of forewords and afterwords to the individual stories in which he discusses everything from the ideas that drove the story to insights on his own writing process.

Vinge's writing is characterized by a clear love of science and an empathy for human needs and feelings. He's intensely curious about what happens when people and science collide. His stories explore the legacies of racism and xenophobia, the pros and cons of anarchy, alien contact, and the sometimes even more difficult contact between humans. He's a master of big ideas, epic settings, and stories well told. --Roz Genessee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (August 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312875843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312875848
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Aurora on April 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My introduction to Vernor Vinge was "A Fire Upon the Deep," the novel that finally won him the long awaited Hugo award. With that and "A Deepness in the Sky" as an introduction, I was a little surprised to discover that Vernor Vinge was also once a beginning writer, just like the rest of us.
This collection of short stories is interesting both for the stories themselves and for the way they chart a truly excellent writer's evolution. The first few stories are amateurish and awkward. Very soon, they improve in both content and style. I ended up buying several of the books that grew out of the short stories included in this collection, and they were even better than the stories that inspired them.
I really enjoyed this collection of stories. Mostly, I was just pleased to realize that even someone who is as mind-blowingly intelligent and skilled as Vinge did not spring full-formed from his father's forehead, but developed incrementally into the writer he is today. I especially recommend this book to aspiring writers as inspiration.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
_The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge_ is a wonderful compilation of most of Vinge's short stories and novellas (there are only two omissions, _True Names_ and _Grimm's Story_, the latter of which became the core of one of his novels, _Tatja Grimm's World_). The short stories range in dates from the very first stories he ever had published, such as _Bookworm, Run!_, copyright 1966 and written while Vinge was a senior in high school, to one written just for this collection, _Fast Times at Fairmont High_, copyright 2001. They range in length from the 900 word story _Win a Nobel Prize!_ to the novella length _Blabber_, though most range somewhere in between. All told there are seventeen stories in this collection, two of which were collaborations (_The Peddler's Apprentice_ was written with Joan D. Vinge and _Just Peace_ was a joint effort with William Rupp).

I really enjoyed the collection, there weren't any stories that I disliked and some were extremely good. His earlier stories, notably _Bookworm, Run!_, were a bit rougher, not as well done as later stories (which is understandable) but even those I liked.

There were several themes explored in his stories, many of them noted by Vinge himself as a foreword and in several cases an after word accompanied each story, where Vinge discussed where he was in his writing career at that time, inspirations for the story, earlier versions of the story, how well he felt that tale has held up to the test of time, and whether or nor he planned (or plans) to further develop the characters or the setting. He revealed for instance in his commentary on _The Blabber_ that that story was both the sequel to the novels _A Fire Upon the Deep_ and _A Deepness in the Sky_ and at the same time a prequel, as he wrote _The Blabber_ first.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scott on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that Vernor Vinge is an accomplished novelist (Need proof? He's won Hugo Awards for each of his last two novels). But how is he at short fiction? This is the question I was asking myself when I picked up this volume. I've read and greatly enjoyed all of his novels (save the fix-up effort 'Tatja Grimm's World), but haven't read (or even heard) of any of his shorter works.
I was by and large satisfied with this collection of short fiction. While there are no excellent stories here, neither are there any bottom-dwellers. Many of the stories take place in the settings of Vinge's novels. 'The Ungoverned' takes place after the events in his 'Peace War' series. 'The Blabber' fits into his Deepness duology. 'The Barbarian Princess' is part of the Grimm's World book. But the stories that don't fit into Vinge's novels share many of the same ideas and themes. Many, if not all, of the stories posit a Technological Singularity, an occurence that is featured prominently in nearly all of Vinge's work.
My favorite story is 'Original Sin' a fascinating and evocative depiction of an alien society. The sole story original to the collecton, novella 'Fast Times at Fairmont High' is an enjoyable depiction of a future junior high school.
None of the stories in the collection have the depth or Importance of Vinge's award-winning novels, but nearly every story is compulsively readable and entertaining. This is a fine addition to the Vinge completist's book shelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mash Mash on November 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had read Vinge's Zones of Thought novels "A Fire Upon the Deep" and "A Deepness in the Sky" before getting this. These two novels were vast, intricately plotted stories. Vinge does well to flesh out the characters and ideas in the relatively short stories of this book. It surprised me to learn he has been writing short fiction since his teens. One of the fascinating parts of reading this collection is seeing his writing style develop, although it was never too shabby in the first place.

These stories were written over the last 30+ years, and his style varies from the classic Asimov-like tone of 60's sci-fi to one with more than a nod towards fast-talking cyberpunk. I found them all enjoyable in their own way - his speculative treatment of computer animation from the 60's is quaint, while "Fast Times" ended a bit abruptly just as it was getting interesting (it's being turned into a novel). The writing is never boring, and more often than not inspired - one of the better books I've read of late.
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