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The Snow Queen

3 Ratings: 3.7
A book by Joan D. Vinge

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. All … see full wiki

Author: Joan D. Vinge
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Aspect
1 review about The Snow Queen

Character Driven, Immersive World

  • Feb 21, 2011
The Snow Queen is the selection for my Hugo Winners Book Club's March meeting. I was surprised how hard it was to find. I'm not sure if it's out of print, but it's not available from Amazon, either as an ebook or a new book directly from the company. Copies were also few and far between in the Carnegie Library system.

Once you find a copy, it's actually quite good. Vinge (who I am reading for the first time) does a good job of creating a coherent and in-depth universe full of interesting characters. She has created several races, varied worlds, and imaginative uses of technology. However, her treatment of language is a bit grating - characters speaking the language Sandhi place their verbs at the end of the sentence, which quickly grows old and seems like an unnecessary touch. All the speech is obviously presented in English, not Sandhi, so wouldn't the verbs go back to where they belong in the translation - if the race spoke French and I wanted to put it into the book in English, I wouldn't put the adjectives after the nouns in my translation.

There are a large number of interesting women characters. Strong female characters in sci-fi and fantasy may be fairly common these days, and even in the early 1980s, but this book overwhelms with the number of great women it offers. The Snow Queen herself is a rich villain that actually grew to be my favorite character. She is a woman leader of her world that makes hard choices, some of which are incorrect or even morally reprehensible but many of which have her people's best interests in mind. By the same token, the main character Moon is not presented as perfectly innocent, nor is she even presented as an anti-hero or femme fatale. Instead, the book only hints at what Vinge really thinks of Moon and allows you to judge how she compares to the queen when she uses tactics that are arguably very manipulative.

Overall, I think the book was worth reading, and I think that it has aged fairly well. The questions about women in power and women trying to come to power that it presents are just as relevant today as they were when the book was released. The world is one that I will revisit in the coming months in the sequel.

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