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The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,849 Ratings  ·  268 Reviews

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

Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Aspect (first published 1980)
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This is higher end political space opera that borrows a number of themes and central plot components from Frank Herbert’s Dune, while creatively retelling the Han’s Christian Anderson story for which it’s named. I found much to like here. Vinge has quality prose skills and does a excellent job with both world-building and layering in a well thought out political structure. She has also peopled her narrative with strong, determined, intelligent central characters, all of whom are women. A nice c ...more
Jul 05, 2011 j rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, I am going to describe a scene to you, and I want you to then tell me which famous science-fiction property it comes from. Ready?

So, this is the climax of the middle part of the story. The hero finally meets up with the primary antagonist. They go head-to-head in a duel on a narrow bridge over a vast abyss. Midway through, our hero learns a stunning piece of news regarding a parental figure, and is then tempted to join the villain in an evil scheme to rule the galaxy.

Ha ha, yeah, I did make
Jan 27, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing
I always found the Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen oddly disturbing, that business with mirror splinters in the eye creeped me out as a kid. This Hugo award winning book by Joan D. Vinge (Mrs. Vernor Vinge no less), takes the original tale and turns it up to 11. I find that female science fiction authors are frequently better at character development and are better prose stylists than their male counterparts, cases in point (off the top of my head) would be Ursula K. Le Guin, ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Wanda rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wanda by: NPR list of science fiction & fantasy
This book is a modern re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale. Moon and Sparks are equivalent to Anderson’s Gerda and Kai, who grow up together and are devoted to each other. In the original tale, Kai is infected with a tiny piece of an evil troll mirror, which causes him to see only the bad and ugly in people. In Vinge’s version, Sparks gets left behind when Moon is chosen away to become a sibyl and he flounces off to the city of the Snow Queen to try his luck at becoming someone o ...more

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
4.5 stars. The sheer imagination involved in this story is absolutely amazing! I think I was about five minutes into it when I started frantically searching for the rest of the series. The fascinating thing about it is that the world itself seemed very much like a fantasy world but this is most definitely a sci-fi story. It's not subtle about the space travel and other planets and FTLT stuff. But it was this blend of sci-fi and fantasy that made the story a bit of genius. More than a bit.

I'm goi
This book has been on my shelves for decades. I am glad that I finally got around to reading it. This book was a strange mix of fascinating ideas and the banality of florid language. It really is an odd mix. I found the writing to be good and the characters were interesting and many of the concepts such as the "sibyls" and the Black Gate, and the construct of the Hegemony and the political intrigue to be fascinating and yet for me the sum of the parts were far larger than the book as a whole. It ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 15, 2015 Lily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lily by: Nenia Campbell
There's more to me, more to the universe, than I suspected. Room for all the dreams I ever had, and all the nightmares... heroes in the gutters and in the mirror; saints in frozen wasteland; fools and liars on the throne of wisdom, and hands reaching out in hunger that will never be filled... Anything becomes possible, after you find the courage to admit that nothing is certain.

The Snow Queen is about change crashing against the bulwarks of stability. It's about a heart freezing over and struggl
Kat  Hooper
Aug 23, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

The Snow Queen, published in 1980, is Joan Vinge’s science fiction adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale of the same name. In Vinge’s version, Anderson’s love story takes place on the planet Tiamat which is located near a black hole. Tiamat is a convenient rest stop for interstellar travelers and they often go down to the planet for respite or trade, but Tiamat also has its own special commodity: the Water of Life. This youth-preserving substa
Liviu Szoke
Premiile Hugo și Locus, un cadru natural extrem de interesant, câteva idei la fel de interesante, o planetă fascinantă, câteva personaje interesante, ingredientele unui roman de succes, nu-i așa? Dar totuși ceva nu s-a legat pentru mine, parcă am tot așteptat să se întâmple ceva ieșit din comun, să mă atașez de un personaj, să mă prindă povestea, dar degeaba, declicul nu s-a produs și a trebuit să mă târăsc cale de aproape 700 de pagini ca s-o termin. Dezamăgitoare!
Orbi Alter
Jan 06, 2016 Orbi Alter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Citala sam je tjedan dana, pijuckajuci je i uzivajuci u predivnim recenicama, a morala sam smoci snagu da se otrgnem iz njenog zimskog zagrljaja jer sam se bojala napustiti taj fenomenalni svijet i likove koji su puno puta sutljivi kad bi trebali biti najglasniji... Imala sam srece pa je i snjegic pao :) Prekrasno dijete SF-a i Andersena
This highly recommended science fiction classic is an evenly paced epic, populated with complex characters and taking place in a plethora of interesting environs. It is a study in themes, from the more straightforward themes of love and beauty, to the more involved notions of change, integrity, corruption, forgiveness, and what it means to be connected to someone. Although Joan D. Vinge used Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen as inspiration for this tale, the plot is packed with sci-fi goo ...more
Aug 13, 2011 Richard rated it did not like it
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2011-07 Science Fiction Selection
Meh. Within the first two or three dozen pages I was very strongly tempted to put this down and walk away. NPR had just released their listener-selected list of the best 100 of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and there's lots there I haven't read yet. Vinge's The Snow Queen isn't on the list.

What dragged me down at the very beginning was the overly lyrical style, unoriginal plot set-up and banal characters of her young protagonists. But I glanced at some Goodreads reviews, realized it had won the H
My thoughts on this book are quite tangled.

On one hand I loved the sci-fi elements of this book. A world which is periodically reduced to a "primitive" state, controlled by the Hegemony for the purpose of harvesting it's most precious resource.

On the other is the drama surrounding the Winter Queen, her Summer clone and their joint love.

Honestly I would have enjoyed the book with far less of the latter and more of the former. The dramatical parts of the book really dragged for me. The whole rede
Feb 10, 2016 Jules rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new_own
The writer takes a seed from H.C. Andersen and plants it in her mind. From that seed sprouts a tree you are invited to explore and enjoy. If you are curious enough you might even discover the roots of this tree and what it has to offer.

The book starts with a fairytale atmosphere full of mystic beliefs and secrets. After a while all those fantastic elements turn into SciFi while the end of the book covers your mind again in the mist of fantasy.
Like many other SciFi novels, this too borrows eleme
Edwin Priest
I started this book unsure of what to expect and finished pretty impressed. The Snow Queen is an engaging saga, full of provoking ideas and social and human commentary. It is also a wonderful crossroads where folk-lore and hard science fiction meet. Can one culture’s mythology be explained away by another culture’s science? Is it possible for science and folklore to coexist?

The book centers on Moon and Spark, sister and brother born in a small fishing community on a small world, Tiamat. Tiamat i
If I had to pick one word for this book, it would be vast. I have a hard time understanding how it fits into less than five hundred pages, even given Vinge's unhesitating deployment of time skips (GRRM, take note).

There are a few sections where I wish she'd hewn a little less slavishly to the fairy tale (view spoiler), but for the most part science fiction and traditional story are seamlessly integrated. The world building is fascinating.
Patrick Burgess
Nov 24, 2009 Patrick Burgess rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Eewoks, House-Elves, and Homo Sapiens
Shelves: reviewed
Lovely, Organic, Classic

Snow Queen is a beautifully written and absolutely amazing piece of science fiction. I'm not a fan of "hardcore" scifi novels that read as though technical manuals had been taken and turned into stories. Yes, I enjoy descriptions of a story's technological aspects, but not to the point where it becomes the story, and the characters merely its automated operators.

Vinge has melded science fiction, drama, and poetry in a way that breathes life into the worlds she's created,
Maggie K
Dec 22, 2015 Maggie K rated it it was ok
I really had a hard time with this one.
I was excited to read it, I generally love a new take on an old folktale, but geeeeeeeeesh some of these characters!
World building-great
magic system-great
characters? omg I was annoyed by everyone! ugh

I made myself finish, and Im glad I did, but I dont want to see these people anymore. Part of the problem was also a lot of exposition....
Ramona Wray
Sep 18, 2015 Ramona Wray rated it it was amazing
The Snow Queen is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale. We all know the story of the evil troll and his magic mirror that falls onto the earth and breaks into a million pieces, some no larger than a grain of sand. They get into people’s eyes, causing their hearts to become numb and making them see only the very worst in both people and the world. Kai and Greta, two kids who grow up together and love each other, become victims of it too when a fragment of the mirror enters K ...more
The writing and world building of this story is magical in tone as well as nature. It has the same feel of wonder that a child might have experiences Alice's adventures for the first time. Yet, the story itself is certainly not child's play, but rather a complex and mature drama set within a world that is both immersive fantasy and scifi.

As with any well crafted tale, in The Snow Queen it is often tough to distinguish hero from villain. In this story, as in real life, things are just not that cu
This Science Fantasy novel follows the plot line of Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, with main characters Moon as Gerda, Sparks as Kai, and Arienrhod as the eponymous protagonist. All of those characters stay a bit flat, I wasn't able to really connect to them. Characters' names sound a bit silly first, but they fit their "Summer" savage cultural background and contrast "Winters'" and otherworlders' names.
Beside Andersen's story, the novel steers toward one very important recurring point of
Jul 05, 2011 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
This is another winner of the Hugo aware for best science fiction novel (1981). Based on those high expectations, it was a disappointment. Some of the problems had to do with the time when it was written, I think. One of the protagonists is a woman police officer, and she has serious doubts as to whether or not she is capable of doing a "man's job". The angst seems overwrought and silly. I suppose it may have seemed like cutting-edge feminism in 1981, but in 2011 it's just weird. The main protag ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Sierra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
There is no way I could resist reading this ambitious retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, especially since it is a Hugo Award winner for Best Novel. Let me introduce you to Joan D. Vinge’s extraordinary novel of grand scale. The Snow Queen takes place on Tiamat, a technologically unadvanced world that has only two seasons, summer and winter that last over 100 years a piece. The people are also divided as winter and summer people, and come to positions of power as their season ma ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
I've owned this book for a very long time, and actually started reading it twice, only to get distracted. This time I finished it, and I was not disappointed. It starts off kind of slow, but then Vinge gets all of her different plots going and the thing sort of gathers this incredible momentum. It's an sf novel about a world called Tiamat, which orbits two stars and a stable black hole. Due its idiosyncratic orbit, every 150 years Tiamat's atmosphere radically changes. During the cold years, the ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Swankivy rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this but found it a bit confusing. Ms. Vinge is my favorite author, but sometimes her plots and huge cast of characters become overwhelming. The basic gist of it began with two opposing cultures--the Summers and the Winters--and how the queen of the Winter culture has to be destroyed when it's time for the Summer Queen to rise. It follows the life of Moon Dawntreader, who's got a curious connection to the reigning Queen, and the culture of the "sybils" who can answer questions ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Geoff rated it liked it
This was a good science fiction book with a strong fantasy influence. Which shouldn't be surprising since it is inspired by the Snow Queen fairy tales, and often gets lumped into the ambiguous subgenre of 'science fantasy'.

I did think the novel was too long. I feel as if certain plot points only existed to give exposition (though, the world within the story is very interesting) and that really slowed down the story at points.

Bonus: I enjoyed her ex-husband's (Vernor Vinge) Hugo Award winning n
Jul 10, 2014 Kara rated it it was ok

You guys, this book is weird.

Like, weird with weird sauce baked with weird spice.

I appreciate the amount of female characters and full credit to Vinge for predicting Cloud technology by 30 years but wow this was a difficult book to slog through.

Vinge creates what should have been a wonderfully detailed universe for her characters to play in, but she can’t be bothered to explain anything, and when she has plot holes she just throws in some tech or custom at the last minute out of nowhere.

She take
Richard Buro

The short version first . . .

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge is a science fiction novel that is reminiscent of works by other contemporaneous authors such as Frank Herbert as well as more modern authors of multi-volume epic science fiction such as Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The Snow Queen is different in that it was written by a female author, and the protagonist is a young woman. While there are iconic women in the works of the Herbert and Anderson, they are older and less vulnerable,
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Joan D. Vinge (born Joan Carol Dennison) is an American science fiction author. She is known for such works as her Hugo Award-winning novel The Snow Queen and its sequels, her series about the telepath named Cat, and her Heaven's Chronicles books.
More about Joan D. Vinge...

Other Books in the Series

The Snow Queen Cycle (4 books)
  • World's End (The Snow Queen Cycle, #2)
  • The Summer Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #3)
  • Tangled Up in Blue (The Snow Queen Cycle, #4)

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“But what force in the galaxy is stronger than she is?"

"Indifference." Jerusha surprised herself with the answer. "Indifference, Gundhalinu, is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don't stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn't act, it allows. And that's what gives it so much power.”
“Real power is control. Knowing that you can do anything...and not doing it only because you can.” 23 likes
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