This extremely late edition of The Hugo Project is brought to you by various and sundry Adulthood endeavors, illnesses both physical and mental, and an extremely long book. But we’re back on track this week with the three additional books Vinge has written in her Snow Queen universe.
The Summer Queen
Tangled up in Blue
Joan D. Vinge
published in 1984, 1991 and 2000
The geometry of these books is a bit hard to describe, but basically, Summer Queen is a sequel to Snow Queen, World’s End is kind of supplemental and written in a different style and takes place during the beginning of Summer Queen, and Tangled up in Blue takes place during Snow Queen.
…okay, the short version: If you liked The Snow Queen, read The Summer Queen, with World’s End in between if you want more BZ Gundhalinu. Read Tangled up in Blue if…uh…you’re a completion freak? Frankly I found it a bit of a let-down. It’s not interesting enough to stand on its own, but it doesn’t really add much to the series besides a bit of confusion.
The Summer Queen is actually brilliant, perhaps more so than The Snow Queen – certainly more innovative. It is definitely worth reading because Snow doesn’t give you the whole scope of the story by a long shot. A loooooong shot. That being said, Summer is a Very Long Book, so be prepared to invest a couple of weeks in the reading.
I’m going to focus my review on The Summer Queen since I really do think the other two are optional at best. And since I’m running a low fever, I shall do so in bullet-point form.
Things I liked:
- the whole conceit – the mers/sybils/smartmatter/Lady etc.
- Kadalion the little person – especially the fact that his ship is configured to his size (of course) and is uncomfortable for everyone else, highlighting the idea that disability comes from the manufactured world being wrong for you, rather than you being wrong for the manufactured world
- more Tor (also Kedalion/Tor = squee!)
- Ananke! and the quoll. But mostly Ananke.
- oh hey the greatest minds of the Old Empire were GAY LOVERS
- several new characters of color
Things I did not like:
- most of the new characters were male
- most of the POV characters were male, new and old, and the female POV characters didn’t get as much time as the men did. What I loved about Snow was the awesome, complicated, distinct women Vinge created, and I felt rather short-changed in Summer. Most of the agency was given to men, as well.
- not enough Jerusha
- I still don’t really care for Moon or Sparks, but I was satisfied with their respective endings
- Tammis’ bisexuality. I’m…concerned by the way it was handled. On the one hand, A BI CHARACTER HOORAY! On the other hand, Tammis is basically defined by his sexuality (and his daddy issues), and…he is unfaithful. Surprise, surprise. I mean, you could definitely read his unfaithfulness as coming from the fact that he was never allowed to explore/come to terms with his sexuality, but it could just as easily be read as “bi people are naturally unfaithful and must fight against their nature in order to be good people.”
So, not without its problems, but very good and totally worth it for the Grand Reveal(s).
Come back next week for my (hopefully more fleshed-out) take on C.J. Cherryh’s 1982 Hugo-Winner, Downbelow Station!