The Snow Queen – Joan D. Vinge

The Snow Queen – Joan D. VingeThe Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

This reissue of a modern classic of science fiction, the Hugo and Locus Award-winning and Nebula-nominated The Snow Queen, marks the first time the book has been reprinted in fifteen years.
The imperious Winter colonists have ruled the planet Tiamat for 150 years, deriving wealth from the slaughter of the sea mers. But soon the galactic stargate will close, isolating Tiamat, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Their only chance at surviving the change is if Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can destroy destiny with an act of genocide. Arienrhod is not without competition as Moon, a young Summer-tribe sibyl, and the nemesis of the Snow Queen, battles to break a conspiracy that spans space. Interstellar politics, a millennia-long secret conspiracy, and a civilization whose hidden machineries might still control the fate of worlds all form the background to this spectacular hard science fiction novel from Joan D. Vinge.

This article is going to be more preamble than anything else. Stay with me or not as you choose.

In 2015 I wrote some thoughts about book clubs. You can read what I wrote here or just continue reading, I don’t care about that. What I care about is book clubs. They’re awesome. I used to be in one, they’d send me a book every month and I could either send it back or keep and pay for it. I felt bad sending them back so I generally kept them. But, I also had negative feelings towards the book and rarely felt like reading them. I did manage to cancel my subscription at some stage but not before I had read some really good books.

This particular book stayed on my shelf unread since 1980. I’ve looked at it many times, picking it up for reading on a couple of occasions and then putting it back. A couple of weeks ago I picked it up meaning to finish it, that never happened. It took a week to complete the prologue and chapter one, a total of 20 pages. Some advice from friends when questioned about it suggested life is too short to finish books you’re not engaged in. I’m at uni studying writing, I should be able to finish and analyse books I’m not engaged in, it’s something we have to do frequently. But with 516 pages to go I’m just not certain I want to.

A bit of googling shows me other people have had issues with this book, but they persevered. PopVerse is one such reader, they only completed the book for the world-building. And mentioned on TVTropes with lots of different tropes scattered throughout. If you’re studying tropes then it sounds like this book and its three sequels might be good to plow through. And if you do that then you’re a better person than me, Gungadin.