Re: WISN99: True Names, Vernor Vinge -- new millennial edition

Robert S. Thau (
Thu, 27 May 1999 23:39:06 -0400 (EDT)

Koen Holtman writes:
> As the review says, 'true names' is widely considered to be the first
> cyberspace story. It is supposed to predict VR, muds, and the
> importance of having a virtual identity not traceable to your real
> identity. No I have not read it (yet).

It features all of the above. It also features a remarkable spin on
the emergence of artificial intelligence in unexpected forms...

Too bad this new collection will miss the other stories, though the
title story is by far the best of the lot. I wonder if they'll keep
the original intro, in which Vinge describes his inspiration --- he
was logged into a university computer under a fake username (to avoid
getting chatted up by students), and found himself talking to someone
else who was also obviously faking his identity (and might not have
been authorized at all); he only realized after the fact that the
whole situation would have been pure SF had it been described a few
years earlier.

> As far as I know, only
> Clarke's 'the lost worlds of 2001' has the same out-of-print must-have
> status.

"The Big U.", Neal Stephenson's first book, is very sought after by
some. There are also famous out-of-print books in other genres; "The
Battle of Brazil" (describing Terry Gilliam's struggle to get the
studio to release his movie more or less intact, with the script as an
appendix), is also, I understand, something of a collector's item.
And let's not even talk about The Last Dangerous Visions....

> The 3-story collection *Across realtime* can also still be found in
> some bookstores. These stories were written much earlier, have some
> cool ideas, but are only for readers who have high tolerance against
> cardboard characters. For me, the singularity backstory in the last
> part of 'realtime' is worth the price of admission alone. Some people
> are known to hate 'realtime' for the implied anarcho-libertarian(?)
> political views therein.

Also found elsewhere in Vinge's work; in particular, The Ungoverned
(from the original True Names collection) explores the virtues of
privately held nukes(!).

BTW, I'm one of the holdouts from the states who isn't going to be
seeing Star Wars I for a while, if at all, but if you think you're
missing something, consider that the winner of the Slashdot poll for
favorite Star Wars film was "Die, Jar Jar, Die!", which got 33% of the
vote, compared to 25% for "The Empire Strikes Back", which received
the most votes among films which actually saw theatrical release.