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The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  8,095 ratings  ·  234 reviews
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 is not lost if Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can destroy destiny with an act of genocide. Arienrhod is not wi ...more
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
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 12, 2015 Wanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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

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
Kat  Hooper
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 13, 2011 Richard rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Patrick Burgess
Nov 24, 2009 Patrick Burgess rated it 4 of 5 stars
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
Jul 16, 2014 Jean rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, fans of the Dune Saga, fans of the Hyperion Cantos
Imagine a mixture of Han Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, Celtic/Welsh mythology (which I talked about here), the changing and turning of the year; now add in the science fiction and space opera sensibilities of Frank Herbert's Dune, with a dash of Star Wars, and finish it off with Joan D. Vinge's own peculiar and particularly strong world building skills, and one might suspect it of being an uneasy stew, too busy, or too chaotic, but Vinge obviously had a very clear vision, creative and ...more
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
the gift
this is a much much later note: just read the fairy tale again, looking for parallels, finding aspects that might be common in most such heroines eg. immediate emotional rapport with furry critters, talking crows, royalty, etc. in this book there is more or less the same thing, in her perhaps native psychic sensitivity, perhaps increased by her role as 'Sybil'- and when we find out what that means... some parts really liked, like the battles in the hall of winds, like the blind mask-maker at wor ...more
Hugo award? Really?!

Its very outdated suitable only for teenagers. I'm no longer one so I couldn't find anything amusing about this book. Plot is a interpretation of Hederson's Snown Queen fairy tale. Very straightforward.

Couldn't seriously believe in all that moral discussion about mers' slaughtering. We slaughter animals all over for food without a blink of an eye, in the book they slaughtered some seals for eternal(!!!) life. Sure, there's no way even modern person would judge that.

Main heroe
This one won the Hugo Award in 1981 & with good reason. Someone in another review I read said that this book was what Dune would be if it had been written by a female anthropologist.

I read this when it first came out - loved the doomed love story at its core with its echoes of the Hans Christian Anderson story. Reading it now I'm more drawn to the politics and culture of the world & to the notion of the sibyl mind - a huge networked database containing all of the knowledge of the Old Emp
I was very excited to read this book. Some of that excitement might have come from the fact that it was my nomination that became the BotM. Regardless, I found a fascinating tale that reached back into ancient mythologies to weave a conflict born of and enforced by the time and seasons of a planet. A planet split in two, ruled by a native, but policed by offworlders. A planet proscribed so that no one who leaves can return and no native can leave. Looming over everything is Arienrhod, the Snow Q ...more
Man after the last several books I half read I never thought I’d love another book again. I was really afraid I had become too judgemental or something and I wasn’t able to enjoy things any more. Welp this book broke through (or I just lowered my standards- idk).
I’m not even that into sci fi because the lore is always too complex- if they could just publish an atlas or encyclopedia supplement I’m sure I could have an easier time with them. I’m not going to say this book was cake (it was sci fi
Julie Decker
Moon Dawntreader is a sybil--one of her culture's sort-of priestesses with the ability to access unlimited knowledge when asked questions. She begins her young adulthood with small dreams of being with her beloved, Sparks, but her clan has bigger plans for her. She's one of the Summer clan and the age of Summer is upon them, but the beginning of Summer means the ending of Winter, and maybe the Snow Queen doesn't want to let go.

When I read this, it was before I read Dune, so the "water of life" i
I love a good anthropological anti-colonial space opera.
Dec 31, 2011 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ron by: Jon Moss
Shelves: fantasy
Four stars may be a stretch, but I really liked this vintage science-fiction. Good world building, interesting, if simplistic characters, who occasionally got lost in the plot convolutions . . . or maybe it was me who was lost.

Cultural note: just thirty years ago a character could be named Starbuck with no know on the author's part that future readers would think of coffee.
Joan Reginaldo
One of the first, if not THE first specfic book I read when I was a kid. It was a Christmas present from my big brother - I think he bought it because 1) he noticed I liked to read and 2) the author's first name is the same as mine.
I consider a book a win if I can recall passages and images from it over two decades later.
I don't know if I agree with the choice to title this book The Snow Queen. True, it borrows its primary plot from that Anderson story, with a young girl (Moon, in the role of Greta) trying to reunite with her One True Love (Sparks in the role of Kai), whose heart has been turned to stone by the nasty queen.

But as the story goes along it picks up they number of subtexts, including the exploitation of Moon's planet Tiamat by the technologically advanced Galactic Hegemony, who find it in their inte
This novel had a great story, but I never enjoyed reading it.

The prose gets really purple sometimes. The dialogue is melodramatic. Stuff like "I felt as if my vision had become sharp-cornered, the light prisming through it in rainbows, then suddenly those prisms were shattered, and my vision will never be the same again." Woooooo, buddy. Have you ever heard a human being talk like that?

And somehow a bunch of the characters have last names that are word-substitutions on "Skywalker"... there's "Da
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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)
The Summer Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #3) Catspaw (Cat, #2) Psion (Cat, #1) Ladyhawke Dreamfall (Cat, #3)

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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.” 19 likes
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