Townhouse Books

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Collected Stories : Vernor Vinge

Although I am still waiting for the SF books I requested on your recommendations to arrive at the library, I went there the other day and saw this Vernor Vinge collection on the shelf. Maybe I'm reading the wrong selections, but three stories into it and I'm ready to move on. "Bookwork, Run!" about the talking chimpanzee was fun and had some mild politics to spice it up. "The Accomplice" about a new way of making animated movies was thankfully short and only interesting after reading the author's comments -- good job 1960s Vinge on predicting the state of computer power and animation thirty years into the future.

Then I skipped ahead, looking for something more space-y and settled on "Conquest by Default," which starts with Jupiter and falling gravity and speed-of-light travel. Our hero, Chente, is investigating the disappearance of his predecessor, a clone of him or something. So far so good. But a few pages into it and I caught myself almost snorting. The prose was banal and his comfort with women absent.

The man was dressed in simple black trousers and a short coat. His hat was stiff and wide-brimmed. The woman wore a long black dress that revealed nothing of her from below the neck. Her reddish hair was tied with a black ribbon, and her grim face showed no signs of makeup.

...Her voice trailed off and she sat looking at Chente. For a moment some new emotion flickered across her face, but then she became impassive. ... Martha's hand moved toward him, then retreated. She said softly, "You really are Chente ... alive again."

I did actually like the way that story ended, but I think for a while I'm going to have to stick with stuff written in the last few years. I'll tuck this Vinge book away for now.

Next up: plague fiction.


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  • "For a moment some new emotion flickered across her face, but then she became impassive."

    Er...some new emotion? Somewhere? At some time?

    I'm, like, sorry or something.

    By lillygog, at 10:20 AM  

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