Apatt's Reviews > The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
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Sep 13, 2011

it was amazing
Read from December 26, 2011 to January 02, 2012

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, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, Anne Macaffrey and Mrs. Vinge here very much deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with them (but isn't). Certainly with this book she has created some emotionally complex and believable characters who she puts through the wringer and they come out better people for it (unlike in real life when I tend to shake my fist at the sky, post-wringer sessions).

The hardest villains to write are the ones who are morally complex and commit heinous acts on the basis of some warped principles, like altruism gone wrong. The super wicked titular Machiavellian character never hesitate to corrupt, murder and destroy for in the name of planetary progress. She thinks nothing of killing half the populace yet she misses her younger days when she was just a happy care-free girl and instinctively fall for a boy who reminds her of her younger self. She now ranks among my all time favorite villains. Romance is a major aspect of the story but not the adolescent starry-eyed type that will leave twitards weak at the knees. Here it is portrayed as a vastly complicated human condition that create, destroy, corrupt and redeem with equal facility.

My only complaint is that the male characters are not as well developed as the ladies, especially the two "starbucks" characters who are despicable and deserve their eventual decaffeination (sorry). The one exception is a sympathetic policeman who goes on to have his own spin-off adventures in later books.

It is a terrible shame that The Snow Queen is out of print (as I write) while Stephenie Meyer's literary manures are in plentiful supply. The most recent book by Joan D. Vinge appears to be a Cowboys and Aliens novelization. What is the world coming to??
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Reading Progress

12/28/2011 page 149
33.0%
02/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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Michael "unlike in real life when I tend to shake my fist at the sky post-wringer sessions"

LOL. So many great observations in this review! I agree with the villain-love, I wanted her to lose but I didn't want anything bad to happen to her. Very conflicted!


Apatt Michael wrote: ""unlike in real life when I tend to shake my fist at the sky post-wringer sessions"

LOL. So many great observations in this review! I agree with the villain-love, I wanted her to lose but I didn..."


Hey, thanks for checking out my reviews Michael, I'm honored!

Since writing this one I heard Joan D. Vinge is sick or something, not sure she is still around, also heard she divorced or separated from Vernor Vinge. I'm not gonna google any of it for verification though!


Michael No problem, I tend to enjoy your insights!

Some of that gossip was in my head, so I did your dirty work for you and checked Wikipedia - she divorced Vinge in 1979! (Hmm, maybe The Snow Queen was a big FU to Vernor? It certainly was successful enough!) She is still married to her new husband but I guess kept the name because of author recognition? And yes, a bad car accident in 2002 has kept her from writing anything but the movie novelizations since. (47 Ronin was the other one)


message 4: by Cecily (new)

Cecily " I find that female science fiction authors are frequently better at character development and are better prose stylists than their male counterparts"

I don't think I've read enough sci-fi by women to have noticed that, but I am very conscious of the fact that characterisation is often poor, even in my favourite sci-fi. Nevertheless, if the ideas and plot are good enough, I can put up with slightly wooden characters.


message 5: by Apatt (last edited Mar 24, 2015 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt Cecily wrote: "Nevertheless, if the ideas and plot are good enough, I can put up with slightly wooden characters..."

Pinocchio is the worst offender.
(this comment is almost 3 months old and I've never been notified of it, damn gremlins).


message 6: by Cecily (new)

Cecily (Making a note to reply to this comment in three months' time.)
;)


Apatt Cecily wrote: "(Making a note to reply to this comment in three months' time.)
;)"


I was reading this GR review of "Guards! Guards!" and the reviewer says he found the book "lacking", but he didn't say lacking what? I can't understand all these newfangled usage of old words, like to "hate on" something, what's the "on" for? Why do people use the word "way" instead of "much" for example "way more", "way better" etc.


Michael Don't be such a hater! It's way lacking. ;)


Apatt Michael wrote: "Don't be such a hater! It's way lacking. ;)"

I can barely decipher that Michael LOL!


message 10: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Cecily wrote: "(Making a note to reply to this comment in three months' time.)
;)"


And here I am, three months later.
I'm a woman of my word.
Now if I could just remember what that word was going to be...
I way hate on when that happens.
;)


Apatt Cecily wrote: "Cecily wrote: "(Making a note to reply to this comment in three months' time.)
;)"

And here I am, three months later.
I'm a woman of my word.
Now if I could just remember what that word was going ..."


According to John Travolta the word you are looking for is "Grease", though it could also be "bodacious" ;)


message 12: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Or we could go Biblical (not really my style) and say the Word is God.


Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell I find that female science fiction authors are frequently better at character development and are better prose stylists than their male counterparts

I COMPLETELY AGREE.

Tanith Lee also wrote some excellent sci-fi (Electric Forest comes to mind), and so did S.L. Viehl (her Stardoc series! I've been recommending it to my female friends who like Star Trek).


Apatt Nenia wrote: "I find that female science fiction authors are frequently better at character development and are better prose stylists than their male counterparts

I COMPLETELY AGREE.

Tanith Lee also wrote some..."


I don't think I've read her books yet, unfortunately. So Electric Forest would be a good starting point? Thanks, Nenia.


Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* Campbell If you like science-fiction, yes. She's written some fantasy that is also very good--White As Snow, I think, is her snow white retelling, and then there's the Flat Earth series which traverses the boundary between sci-fi and fantasy. I haven't read too many of her books yet since she is a relatively new discovery, but Lee has definitely made it onto my auto-buy list. She has a vampire series that is supposed to be quite good! I think it's called Blood Opera, or something epic like that.


message 16: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Thanks for the reminder,a friend recommended this to me a few days ago! Must be fate.


Apatt Tom wrote: "Thanks for the reminder,a friend recommended this to me a few days ago! Must be fate."

Thanks for reading the review Tom. The Snow Queen is well worth your time :)


message 18: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Well a few days ago someone told me Vernor's series was his favourite sci fi epic, so I told my friend I was planning to read it and my friend said his wife's novels are even better. So this is on my list now.


Tracey It's been forever since I read these - but, yes, wonderful. I can't believe they're out of print - that's crazy.

And (said the former art school geek) don't forget the stunning jacket art by Michael Whelan. I saw the cover for Summer Queen in person ... wow.


Apatt Tracey wrote: "It's been forever since I read these - but, yes, wonderful. I can't believe they're out of print - that's crazy.

And (said the former art school geek) don't forget the stunning jacket art by Mich..."


Yeah, Michael Whelan's art is always fantastic. Shame about Mrs, Vinge, though.


message 21: by Cecily (new)

Cecily With printing-on-demand becoming more viable, plus scanning, ebooks, things going out of copyright etc, the idea of things being out of print may become obsolete.


Apatt Cecily wrote: "With printing-on-demand becoming more viable, plus scanning, ebooks, things going out of copyright etc, the idea of things being out of print may become obsolete."

Yes, but you spurn e-books, audiobooks and other types of books with prefixes, so that won't of much use to you ;)


message 23: by Cecily (new)

Cecily True. But I have bought books printed on demand. And I buy second-hand books. I guess I need to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsKbw...


message 24: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Michael Whelan one of the greatest fantasy artists IMO.


Apatt Cecily wrote: "True. But I have bought books printed on demand. And I buy second-hand books. I guess I need to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsKbw..."

Cherly you jest! That is some outfit she has on!


Apatt Tom wrote: "Michael Whelan one of the greatest fantasy artists IMO."

Wheelan, Roger Dean and Chris Foss are my favorites!


message 27: by Derek (new) - added it

Derek Cecily wrote: "True. But I have bought books printed on demand. And I buy second-hand books. I guess I need to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsKbw..."

Did you know that every time you use print-on-demand for a traditionally-published-but-now-out-of-print book, you're denying the author the chance to reclaim his rights, and epublish it themselves? (http://sfwriter.com/blog/?p=4870) TPHs use the fact that a book is available for print-on-demand as a "proof" that they're keeping it in print. Not such a big deal for books originally released after the dawn of e-publishing--those authors/agents could have known what they were getting into--but a big deal for older books (probably including this one).


message 28: by Cecily (new)

Cecily I didn't know that, Derek.

The only on-demand books I've bought were ones that were self-published by friends.

For books that are out of print, my first stop would be abebooks.com, but the original author gets nothing from second hand sales, so I'm not sure that's any better.

Tricky!


message 29: by Lily (last edited Jan 28, 2016 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lily Happily, this particular book is actually in print again. :)

Great review Apatt. Arienrhod is one of my all-time favorite villains as well.


Apatt Lily wrote: "Happily, this particular book is actually in print again. :)

Great review Apatt. Arienrhod is one of my all-time favorite villains as well."


Thank you Lily! :)


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