Hugo Book Review: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge tells the story of a world in an empire that has collapsed. The story is set on a world that has a medicine which effectively allows immortality. Very rare it is used primarily by the royalty of this world, but they do not hold that position forever and the world takes place as that is about to change, something the queen doesn’t want.

It is hard for me to read The Snow Queen because separating out the difficulties in reading it is going to be almost impossible from the book itself. I enjoyed the beginnings of this book well enough, but I had technical difficulties twice the second time my Kindle broke and it took days for me to get a new one and then I couldn’t find the exact location I was previously at in the book. Still, I didn’t feel any great desire to return to this story while I was waiting.

The major character of this story is Moon. She is a sibyl which means that she has access to a huge database of knowledge in a strange almost computer like way. This along with the fact that she has a connection to the queen drive the story along with a great deal of politics. This covers ideas like fear of death, the nature of intelligence, the nature of power and even nature vs. nurture.

While there are a lot of great ideas here, but the truth is that I never really cared about any of the characters or entirely bought into the ideas of this story. They just felt shallow and not all that interesting in general.

I want to give this another chance at some point because there are a lot of great ideas in this story, but I never really felt like the plot drew me in and I didn’t care about any of the characters. Still, I can understand why this won a Hugo because the questions and ideas that this sets up are important and not easy to answer and that makes it worth reading even if it isn’t great.