Happy New Year (celebrated). I’ll be heading to the office shortly, to get caught up a bit. I don’t have ESPN anyway, so I won’t be missing the bowl games (grrr).
The New Year is a traditional time to look backward and look forward. Today’s selection, Joan Vinge’s 1991 Hugo nominee, The Summer Queen does both of those things.
The book is the long-awaited sequel to Vinge’s 1981 Hugo winner, The Snow Queen, based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. I read the original perhaps five years ago — it was a masterpiece, but I’ve forgotten too much. This volume (I’m half-way through) is complex, confusing, and tantalizing. Moon Dawntreader, the hidden clone of the Winter Queen and heroine of the first volume, is the Summer Queen, presiding over an effort to drag her techno-phobic people toward modernity during the long “summer,” during which her planet’s wormhole gate to a wider human civilization is inaccessible. Her planet holds both a Spice-like life-extending substance and the secret to a civilization-wide information technology mediated through “sibyls” — human computer interfaces. Meanwhile, outside, other characters are in a race to rediscover a long-lost technology for faster-than-light travel.
The characters and (most of the) relationships are interesting and compelling, and the action sequences well drawn. I’m hooked on this space opera. But you’ll want to read The Snow Queen first.
I don’t yet know where The Summer Queen will rank on my top whatever list, but it will be in the mix. What are you reading?