I would like to start this review with a comment on the edition I purchased which, at the time, was out-of-print.
Across Realtime is a collection of all the Vinge stories set in this same world/reality. It is supposed to reprint two novels (The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime) as well as one novella ("The Ungoverned"). Unfortunately my edition only had The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime.
Of those stories the ladder, Marooned in Realtime, is the more compelling. Set 50 million years after the first, a murder investigation is at the heart of this multi-mystery tale that will decide the fate of humanity.
In the former story though, which has the excellent title 'The Peace War', we follow an intrepid group of clever post-apocalyptic mathematicians, and their friends, as they fight to overturn the world wide dictatorship of The Peace Authority in 2047.
The Authority had come to power 50 years earlier using an
invention called a "bobble" on the armies and governments of the world.
Bobbles are impenetrable spheres of force, perfectly reflective and frictionless, which encloses whatever is within it in a fixed instant of time until the bobble bursts.
As always the with Vinge's words I was carried feet first into this vibrantly populated America of interesting and clever characters as they are motivated by love, hate and the occasional lump of guilt into organizing a rebellion in a world where peace is in enforced by a onetime think-tank who's discovery of "bobbling" allowed them to win global domination.
A world where the outlawing and control of "big" technology has left "little" tech to be refined by groups of Tinkerers and forward thinking minds.
Now jumping 50 megayears ahead we see what the last enclaves of humanity are like. Marooned in Realtime follows users of the "bobble" who have dropped out again and again (bobbled themselves to travel into the future) until one day they awake to an empty world. Humanity just gone, without a trace.
Together the survivors have once again decided to live in Realtime in hopes of revitalize the human race. But even here human's are just that... human.
And one detective, the last detective, kidnapped from his own time while on a case and thrust into a future where his whole family's offspring had long ago turned to dust must now try to save this new world order by discovering the identity of a murderer before this band of time refugees tenuous alliance splinters into nothing.
But can he discover who marooned one of the group leaders in Realtime, while the rest 'bobbled-up for the winter', before this last chance for humanity is lost?
Marooned in Realtime won the Prometheus Award in 1987 and was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel that same year. And while The Peace War was not as gripping it was a great way to get your feet wet in this word of Vinge's.
So while I did like the 2nd story more the read of the whole book was great and I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in time travel stories, mysteries and adventure.