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New Releases: 4/24/2012

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The Easier Part

October 3, 2011 14 comments

by Vernor Vinge

There are two main subplots in my novel, A Fire Upon the Deep: the galactic starfaring of Ravna, Pham, and the Skroderiders; and the adventure with the creatures of the Tines World. Of the two, the tale of Ravna and Company was by far the harder for me to write, and probably accounted for two—thirds of my revision time. Much of the difficulty was that galactic adventure is a crowded genre; writing cool new space opera is possible, but not easy.  So I slaved and thought and slaved some more, and in the end I think the galactic subplot of A Fire upon the Deep is as intriguing as the groundside subplot with the Tines. In fact, the diligent/analytical part of me gets a thrill when I run into a fan who prefers the galactic subplot; such opinions are a testament to hard work well done.

The Tines World subplot was a very different situation: the most interesting thing about the Tines hadn’t had much prior exploitation. Individual Tines look a lot like dogs—and are not much smarter than dogs—but Tinish packs of four to eight members are about as smart as an individual human being. Packs bigger than seven are often dopey, and packs bigger than ten are considered to be mindless mobs. Group minds have been in science fiction at least since Olaf Stapledon’s novels in the 1930s (for example, The Starmaker)—usually with thousands or millions of members. There haven’t been many stories about group minds with fewer than ten members. (I’ll bet there have been 2-member examples, human twins of one mind. And Poul Anderson had 3-member group minds in his novel The Rebel Worlds, back in 1969.

I rely on the Internet’s group mind to supply me with other examples!)

So with the Tines, novelty was easy. Furthermore, the nature of the pack mind made all sorts of alien behavior credible.  And most readers have a natural sympathy for dogs: where I needed cute and likable alien characters, they could be easily supplied. Technical issues determined many of the details. For instance, I had originally intended that the Tines would use some naturally evolved radio sense to unite member minds into a pack.  One of the early readers suggested I use ultrasound instead. That implied all sorts of cool things about the packs. The speed of sound is about a million times slower than lightspeed, and ultra-high-frequency sound is dramatically absorbed by just a few meters of air.  Packs of Tines often have reason to get their heads together.

Even at the sentence level, writing about the Tines was fun. I found that many clichés and much silly language had fresh meaning when applied to Tinish packs:

“I’m of two minds on this issue.”

“Tell your conscience to take a walk.”

“I may be a little bit pregnant.”

(On the other hand, “on the other hand” just sounds wrong coming from a pack!)

The Tinish subplot of A Fire Upon the Deep was big enough to explore many features of the pack civilization.

That was 1992. Since then I’ve had more time to live with these fictional beasties. In many ways they seem very real to me.  There’s nothing about the Tines of A Fire Upon the Deep that I think is seriously wrong, but at the same time, there are major consequences left unexplored. The “Tinish condition” is weirdly different from the “human condition”.  Almost everything Tinish has a dual nature: that of the individual pack members, and that of the members’ pack. For example, a pack member is clearly mortal, but the pack as a whole might exist for far longer, with mortality a matter of contingency and definition.  How the Tines interact with the human children, refugees from near godhood, drives much of plot of the upcoming sequel, The Children of the Sky.

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From the Tor/Forge October newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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Goodreads First Reads: The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

August 16, 2011 1 comment

Enter for a chance to win a copy on Goodreads!

About The Children of the Sky: After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced an enthralling sequel to his memorable bestselling novelA Fire Upon the Deep.

Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them.

While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power…and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed.

On a world of fascinating wonders and terrifying dangers, Vernor Vinge has created a powerful novel of adventure and discovery that will entrance the many readers of A Fire Upon the Deep. Filled with the inventiveness, excitement, and human drama that have become hallmarks of his work, this new novel is sure to become another great milestone in Vinge’s already stellar career.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends September 15)

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New Releases: 08/16/2011

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The Children of the Sky Sweepstakes

August 15, 2011 42 comments

The Children of the Sky, the long awaited sequel to Vernor Vinge’s Hugo Award-winning A Fire Upon the Deep, is almost here! To celebrate, we are offering a chance to win one of five advance reading copies. Comment below to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins August 15, 2011 at 10 a.m. ET. and ends August 19, 2011, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Vernor Vinge Prize Pack Sweepstakes

August 1, 2011 2 comments

Sign up for the Tor/Forge Newsletter for a chance to win the following prize pack:

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor VingeA Deepness in the Sky by Vernor VingeThe Peace War by Vernor VingeMarooned in Realtime by Vernor VingeThe Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge

Rainbows End by Vernor VingeThe Tatja Grimm's World by Vernor VingeTrue Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier by Vernor VingeThe Wilting by Vernor Vinge

We’ll also toss in an advance reading copy of The Children of the Sky!

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

About our newsletter: every issue of Tor’s monthly email newsletter features original writing by, and interviews with, Tor authors and editors about upcoming new titles from all Tor and Forge imprints. In addition, we occasionally send out “special edition” newsletters to highlight particularly exciting new projects, programs, or events.

If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, you can enter too. We do not automatically enter subscribers into sweepstakes. We promise we won’t send you duplicate copies of the newsletter if you sign up for the newsletter more than once.

Sign up for your chance to win today!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins August 1, 2011 at 12 a.m. ET. and ends September 6, 2011, 11:59 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. For Official Rules and to enter, go to tor-forge.com/tor/promo/vingeprizepack. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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Goodreads First Reads: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

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About A Fire Upon the Deep: In 1992 Vernor Vinge amazed the science fiction world with this epic novel of star-spanning adventure. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and has since become a landmark in the field. Now, with the long awaited sequelThe Children of the Sky about to be published, we are proud to offer the first-ever trade paperback edition of this big-screen SF classic.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends August 22)

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