Around Christmas-time, I saw a copy of Vernor Vinge’s True Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier, and picked it up without another thought. I’d been waiting for this book for years, as it had been apparently caught in some kind of publishing limbo, and I wanted to read Vinge’s stories.
I should have taken a closer look before buying. It turns out the book only contains the one Vinge story (“True Names”), and is otherwise padded out with a bunch of “futurists” rambling on about the Internet. Futurist drivel about the Internet is annoying enough, but it gets worse: since the book’s publication had been pushed back so far, a lot of the essays are from 1997. So it’s dated futurist drivel. Joy.
Well, just because I bought a book doesn’t mean I need to read it cover to cover. I skipped all the essays (except for a forgettable little thing by John M. Ford, which I figured might be good, because, hey, John M. Ford) and only read the story.
The story’s a precursor to the cyberpunk genre (which is why someone got the idea to put it in a book with all those essays), and it’s good. The characters are interesting, the plot brisk, and the concept… no longer novel, these days, but if you put yourself back to 1982, it’s incredibly imaginative.
Vinge fans should definitely read this story, but—unless they really want to read all those essays that I skipped—they might want to see if they can find it elsewhere, as $14 for a single short story is pretty steep.