BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Tatja Grimm doesn’t fit in on the world where she lives – she’s significantly smarter that everybody else, and begins to realize there might be more out in the universe than her tiny planet.
PROS: First section is a great short story, the last section is good, the middle is pretty poor.
CONS: The book bridges a couple of decent short stories together in poor fashion.
BOTTOM LINE: If you have to read everything by Vinge, get it, otherwise you can give this one a pass.
Tatja Grimm’s World was recently reprinted and a copy sent to the SFSignal team for review. Initially published in 1969 as Grimm’s World, this book took two of Vinge’s more popular short stories from the 1960’s and turned them into a short novel. Unfortunately, the bridge piece written to connect the two stores was either rushed or done under duress – it is clearly not up to Vinge’s standards.
The situation on the planet, Tatja’s emergence, and the circumstances the characters find themselves in is pretty interesting. The planet is metal-poor, and the main characters work on a huge barge that travels the inhabited islands publishing a fiction magazine and selling it to the various island dwellers. The main themes work and the world itself is interesting – in the two original short stories. Perhaps the middle was written by somebody else, but it makes the main character wholly unsympathetic and does nothing but confuse the overall story.
Overall, I was somewhat disappointed in this work because I have such a high opinion of Vinge due to his amazing books A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky (both Hugo award winners.) However, this isn’t the first short story (or two) that’s been unsuccessfully turned into a novel, and it probably won’t be the last.