The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge

I picked up this science fiction novel at the same hostel in Switzerland I mentioned before, and it was worlds better than its hokey '80s cover would indicate. The eponymous queen has ruled over Tiamat's Winter for a century and a half with the help of a youth-giving substance culled from the blood of a local sea creature. Fearful of what will become of her technologically backwards world when the all-powerful Hegemony departs for a hundred years and leaves the planet in technological darkness, Arienrhod creates a clone of herself, a perfect copy to take over when Arienrhod is ritually sacrificed to the sea. But Moon, her clone, is everything she wanted and nothing she expected, adn the complexities of her uncivilized world run far deeper than anyone has ever guessed.

Vinge's story and writing are superb, truly enthralling and imaginative. I'm surprised and saddened that I've never heard her name before, for if this one novel is any indication, she should be a common name in sci fi literature. I'm definitely going to try to find more of her work.


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