Premise[ edit ] The Galactic Empire, which once ruled large portions of the galaxy, fell into decay millennia ago. Its remnants coalesced into a group of seven planets known as the Hegemony. Tiamat is an oceanic planet, accessible to the Hegemony only through wormhole travel. It only remains open for cycles of years; when it is closed, no offworld travelers are able to reach Tiamat for more than a century. The residents of Tiamat are split into two clans: "Winters", who advocate technological progress and trade with offworlders, and "Summers", who depend on their folk traditions and rigid social distinctions for survival. Interstellar travel between Tiamat and the Hegemony is only possible during the years of Winter rule, and a single woman rules the entire planet: a "Snow Queen" in Winter, a "Summer Queen" in Summer.
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Start your review of The Snow Queen The Snow Queen Cycle, 1 Write a review Shelves: science-fiction , award-nominee-hugo , award-nominee-nebula , award-nominee-locus , multiple-award-winners , multiple-award-nominee , award-winner-hugo , award-winner-locus , easton-press , This is higher end political space opera that borrows a number of themes and central plot components from Frank Herberts Dune , while creatively retelling the Hans Christian Anderson story for which its 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 change from the mostly male dominated SF of the period. Finally, she has deftly wrapped all of the above inside a complex, engaging plot that I found very entertaining. Yeah, this is science fiction done right and this story definitely deserves a wider readership.
The Hegemony is glued together by its ability to connect to member planets via leftover empire technology. One of member planets and the star of our tale is Tiamet. However, because of a unique solar phenomenon, Tiamat is only accessible by the other Hegemonic worlds for out of every years.
The rest of the time, Tiamat is completely isolated. The population of the planet is radically divided into two groups that have a serious nasty on for one another. Group 1 is comprised of the Winters who rule during the years of Hegemony access to Tiamat. The Winters are gadget-loving, hedonistic technophiles who welcome the hegemonic traders and all the advanced baubles they bring to make their lives comfy.
Group 2 is comprised of the Summers who rule during the years of isolation from the Hegemony. The Summers are environment-worshipping luddites tied to folk-traditions who despise both the Hegemony and the Winters for the devastation they cause to the environment, specifically the hunting to near extinction of the peaceful, marine-faring Mers think adorable, highly intelligent sea otters larger than killer whales. To tell this tale, Vinge gives us 3 very strong central characters all of whom play a key role in the outcome of the story.
First we have Arienhod, the titular Snow Queen. Now the time of the Change is approaching when a Summer Queen will be named and Arienhod will be become a sacrificial offering to usher in the new regime. Second, we have our hero, Moon Dawntreader Summer. The fall out from this relationship plays a pivotal role in the rest of the story as Sparks eventually comes to the attention of Arienhod. The final main player in our space drama is Jerusha PalaThion, my favorite character of the novel. Jerusha is a police inspector stationed on Tiamat and responsible for protecting the interest of the Hegemony by preventing unauthorized technology from being created.
Jerusha acts as both obstacle to and facilitator of various plot components and ends up playing a crucial role in the final resolution of the story.
My only gripe is that the pacing was a bit uneven at times and there were some dry parts that I thought could have been spiced up a bit. However, the story as a whole was very good and I would certainly recommend it for those that enjoy less action-based and more plot-focused science fiction.
The Snow Queen
Joan D. Vinge