VINGE, Joan (Carol) D(ennison)

VINGE, Joan (Carol) D(ennison)
   US writer, with a degree in anthropology from San Diego State University; she has been married twice, to sf writer Vernor VINGE 1972-9 and to sf editor Jim FRENKEL from 1980. She began publishing sf with Tin Soldier (in Orbit 14 [anth 1974] ed Damon KNIGHT; 1990 chap dos), whosetheme (like much of her later work) is taken from fairy tale or MYTHOLOGY and rewritten in sf terms, the source in this case being a story by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875).Andersen was also the remote source of hersecond, very popular novel - it won a 1981 HUGO - THE SNOW QUEEN (1980; rev 1989). Though the title and some of the plot come from Andersen, this is an essay in ANTHROPOLOGY, much of it founded in the pseudo-scientific anthropology of Robert GRAVES in The White Goddess (1947 US), which Brian M. STABLEFORD argued in a review "is rather like a chemistry graduatewriting a story whose plot hinges on the phlogiston theory". The broad romantic sweep of the tale, however, carried most doubters with it. A primitive planet with a long year is supported by off-world technology (brought in by transmission via BLACK HOLE) in its long winter, at the endof which the Winter Queen will be supplanted by the Summer Queen, and the offworlders will leave. The Winter Queen plots to renew her reign (via cloning) in summer. The fact that this novel's power rested more in generic dexterity (much of it taken from HEROIC FANTASY) than in conceptual strength may help explain why, after such a strong beginning, JV has not, despite expectations to the contrary, been reckoned one of themajor sf writers of the 1980s. The other books in the Snow Queen series are World's End (1984) and The Summer Queen (1991), the latter being very long indeed.Before THE SNOW QUEEN was published JV had already had much success with her short fiction, some of which deals with COMMUNICATION between humans and ALIENS, including the title story of The Crystal Ship: Three Original Novellas of Science Fiction (anth 1976) ed RobertSILVERBERG. JV's early short fiction was collected in Fireship (coll 1978; vt Fireship; and Mother and Child UK) and Eyes of Amber and Other Stories (coll 1979). The 1977 title story of the latter is another goodcommunications story; it won a Hugo for Best Novelette. A further collection of 6 stories was Phoenix in the Ashes (coll 1985).JV's first novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), pits an egalitarian society with strong women against male-dominated, collapsing societies in an ASTEROID belt. The novel belongs to the Heaven Belt series of stories; itwas assembled with a novella from the series, Legacy (1980 dos), as Heaven Chronicles (omni 1991). More impetuous is the Cat series, begun with Psion(1982) and continued with Catspaw (1988; vt Cats Paw 1989 UK), the 2 collected as Alien Blood (omni 1988). Psion, which unlike its successor was published as a juvenile, is actually a development, years later, of the first long fiction JV wrote as a teenager. Cat, an orphan (half human, half Hydran, a race despised by humans) with catlike eyes and PSI POWERS, has full-blooded, melodramatic, SPACE-OPERA adventures. None of these books approach THE SNOW QUEEN in scope, and indeed - in what seemed a distinct lowering of her sights - JV spent much of the mid-1980s writing film ties, starting with the juvenile Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: The Storybook * (1983 chap) and including: Tarzan, King of the Apes * (1983);The Dune Storybook * (1984 chap), juvenile; Return to Oz: A Novel * (1985); Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome * (1985); Ladyhawke * (1985); Santa Claus, the Movie: A Novel * (1985); Santa Claus, the Movie Storybook * (1985 chap), juvenile; and Willow * (1988).In an interview JV has said that the first sf she grew to love was by Andre NORTON; it may be as a colourful exponent of the tradition to which Norton belongs (and which Norton did much to establish) - in which mythic themes are patterned intoa world that is only superficially sciencefictional - that JV will be best remembered.
   Other works: Joan D. Vinge Omnibus (omni 1983 UK), containing Fireship and The Outcasts of Heavens Belt.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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