Vernor Vinge

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Vernor Vinge (born October 2, 1944) is a computer scientist and science fiction author, as well as a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics.


The Coming Technological Singularity (1993)[edit]

Presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, 30–31 March 1993.[1] Also retrievable from the NASA technical reports server as part of NASA CP-10129. A slightly changed version appeared in Whole Earth Review, Winter 1993.
  • Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
  • The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century.
  • We can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.
  • I have argued above that we cannot prevent the Singularity, that its coming is an inevitable consequence of the humans' natural competitiveness and the possibilities inherent in technology. And yet … we are the initiators. Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things. We have the freedom to establish initial conditions, make things happen in ways that are less inimical than others. Of course (as with starting avalanches), it may not be clear what the right guiding nudge really is...
  • The work that is truly productive is the domain of a steadily smaller and more elite fraction of humanity.

A Fire Upon the Deep (1992)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor Books
  • How to explain? How to describe? Even the omniscient viewpoint quails.
    • Prologue (p. 1; opening words).
  • "Poor humans; they will all die."
    "Poor us; we will not."
    • Prologue (p. 2).
  • The hours came to minutes, the minutes to seconds. And now each second was as long as all the time before.
    • Prologue (p. 4).
  • Peregrine Wickwrackrum was of two minds about evil: when enough rules get broken, sometimes there is good amid the carnage.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 18).
  • The voice was gentle, like a scalpel petting the short hairs of your throat.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 51).
  • Politics may come and go, but Greed goes on forever.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 68) (motto of the Qeng Ho trading group).
  • He was guided by what he saw rather than by what he wanted to believe.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 109).
  • Life is a green madness just now, trying to squeeze the last bit of warmth from the season.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 119).
  • I say, let’s learn more and then speculate.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 122).
  • Sometimes terror and pain are not the best levers; deception, when it works, is the most elegant and least expensive manipulation of all.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 145).
  • If during the last thousand seconds you have received any High-Beyond-protocol packets from "Arbitration Arts," discard them at once. If they have been processed, then the processing site and all locally netted sites must be physically destroyed at once. We realize that this means the destruction of solar systems, but consider the alternative. You are under Transcendent attack.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 161).
  • Hexapodia as the key insight...
    I haven’t had a chance to see the famous video from Straumli Realm, except as an evocation. (My only gateway onto the Net is very expensive.) Is it true that humans have six legs?
    • Chapter 18 (p. 226).
  • It was not called the Net of a Million Lies for nothing.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 228).
  • We've watched the Homo Sapiens interest group since the first appearance of the Blight. Where is this "Earth" the humans claim to be from? "Half way around the galaxy," they say, and deep in the Slow Zone. Even their proximate origin, Nyjora, is conveniently in the Slowness. We see an alternative theory: Sometime, maybe further back than the last consistent archives, there was a battle between Powers. The blueprint for this "human race" was written, complete with communication interfaces. Long after the original contestants and their stories had vanished, this race happened to get in position where it could Transcend. And that Transcending was tailor-made, too, re-establishing the Power that had set the trap to begin with.

    We're not sure of the details, but a scenario such as this is inevitable. What we must do is also clear. Straumli Realm is at the heart of the Blight, obviously beyond all attack. But there are other human colonies. We ask the Net to help in identifying all of them. We ourselves are not a large civilization, but we would be happy to coordinate the information gathering, and the military action that is required to prevent the Blight's spread in the Middle Beyond. For nearly seventeen weeks, we've been calling for action. Had you listened in the beginning, a concerted strike might have been sufficient to destroy the Straumli Realm. Isn't the Fall of Relay enough to wake you up? Friends, if we act together we still have a chance.

    Death to vermin.

    • p. 245.
  • "Well, what do you know," Pham said. "Butterflies in jackboots."
    • Chapter 26 (p. 318).
  • He claimed that nearby gun thunder cleared the mind—but most everybody else agreed it made you daft.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 373).
  • Effective translation of natural languages comes awfully close to requiring a sentient translator program.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 397).
  • All his life he had lived by the law. Often his job had been to stop acts of revenge....And now revenge was all that life had left for him.
    • Chapter 33 (p. 428).
  • Sometimes the biggest disasters aren’t noticed at all—no one’s around to write horror stories.
    • Chapter 33 (p. 443).
  • Over the last few weeks, some newsgroups have been full of tales of war and battle fleets, of billions dying in the clash of species. To all such—and those living more peaceably around them—we say look out on the universe. It does not care, and even with all our science there are some disasters that we can not avert. All evil and good is petty before Nature. Personally, we take comfort from this, that there is a universe to admire that cannot be twisted to villainy or good, but which simply is.
    • Chapter 35 (pp. 483-484).
  • The heart of manipulation is to empathize without being touched.
    • Chapter 37 (p. 519).
  • “I have come to kill you.”
    The death’s heads shrugged. “You have come to try.”
    • Chapter 39 (p. 555).
  • If there be only hours, at least learn what there is time to learn.
    • Chapter 41 (p. 580).
  • Peregrine Wickwrackscar was flying. A pilgrim with legends that went back almost a thousand years—and not one of them could come near to this!
    • Epilogs (p. 595).

A Deepness in the Sky (1999)[edit]

  • So high, so low, so many things to know.
  • There is a deepness in the sky, and it extends forever.
  • Technical people don't make good slaves. Without their wholehearted cooperation, things fall apart.

Rainbows End (2006)[edit]

  • So much technology, so little talent.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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