The real interesting part of this book is less the actual SF novel (which is ok) but the essays that precede it and the closing words of Marvin Minsky - they allow a look into how and why the internet evolved how it did, and give a better idea of how it could have been. A word of caution: the essays are fairly technical (cryptography, software) - so if you are not a technical person certain parts will be hard to follow.
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Stunning achievement23 mars 1999
- Publié sur Amazon.com
When I was starting out as a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence at Carnegie Mellon, it was made known to us first-year students that an unofficial but necessary part of our education was to locate and read a copy of an obscure science-fiction novella called *True Names*. Since you couldn't find it in bookstores, older grad students and professors would directly mail order sets of ten and set up informal lending libraries -- you would go, for example, to Hans Moravec's office, and sign one out from a little cardboard box over in the corner of his office. This was 1983 -- the Internet was a toy reserved for American academics, "virtual reality" was not a popular topic, and the term "cyberpunk" had not been coined. One by one, we all tracked down copies, and all had the tops of our heads blown off by Vinge's incredible book. *True Names* remains to this day one of the four or five most seminal science-fiction novels ever written, just in terms of the ideas it presents, and the world it paints. It laid out the ideas that have been subsequently worked over so successfully by William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. *And* it's well written. *And* it's fun. In my grad student days, we loved to sit around and discuss the implications of Vernor's ideas. Sixteen years later, I do research at MIT, and it's still fun to sit around and talk about how Vernor's ideas are coming to be. (Amazingly enough, Vinge has done this not once, but twice: *Marooned in Realtime* contains ideas even more interesting than *True Names* -- all in the setting of a murder mystery that takes place 50 million years in the future.) Vinge has subsequently written other, very popular and enjoyable books, such as *A Fire Upon the Deep* and his just-published *A Deepness in the Sky*. However, it's always been very frustrating to me that *True Names* has been essentially impossible to find. It's always out of print, and you have to know one of the elect who snapped up copies back when it was marginally possible -- and these copies are now jealously guarded. I won't let people read mine outside of my home. (The same goes for *Marooned in Realtime* -- seminal work; out of print.) So I am really, really delighted that *True Names* is now back in print. I note that it is now fashionable to write books "explaining" the Net and the near-term future of our society to the layman -- books such as Negroponte's *Being Digital,* Gate's *The Road Ahead*, or Dertouzos' *What Will Be*. These books are a waste of time. If you would like to explore the implications and likely future of the computer revolution, I would recommend three novels, instead: *True Names* (Vernor Vinge), *Snowcrash* (Neal Stephenson), and *Neuromancer* (William Gibson). Vinge and Stephenson are not only excellent writers, they are trained, competent computer scientists. *Neuromancer* is the best-written of the three; *Snowcrash* is the funniest and hippest; *True Names* -- well, *True Names* is the source. -Olin
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
If you read only one SF book EVER...12 juillet 1997
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Want to know the future of the human race? A lot of authors explore the future and make it gripping or entertaining; Vinge explores the future and gets it right. True Names is a story of amplified human intelligence.
Intelligence determines the rate of technological progress. Once technology is used to amplify intelligence, a positive-feedback loop of enormous power is created. No mortal can ever write of that future - but Vinge creeps up on the edge of human history and shows that Something lies beyond.
This is the story that introduced the Vingean Singularity of SF legend: "Every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own... extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied... the world will pass beyond our understanding."
The Singularity is seriously projected, by Ph.D.'d folk, to occur around 2030. And in my opinion, it's that or nuclear war. Choose. Be ready. Read this book.
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Singularities and Pathbreaking8 janvier 2001
Paul F. Starrs
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Vernor Vinge, a professor at San Diego State University (Math Sciences) has the most fertile imagination conceivable; I could hardly agree more with the reviewer below [firstname.lastname@example.org from Cambridge, Mass.] that Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson are the science fiction prodigies of the end of the last millennium -- and those to watch at the start of this one. *True Names* is something I stumbled on in a ratty paperback that, for some odd reason, had been rebound and inserted in my university library (I think because we had an acquisitions librarian with a taste for the singular). Reading the story in 1990 was a revelation, and it will be to anyone who finds it in this collection, blessedly supposed to be re-released (again) in March 2001 (though that too has been much delayed). A great deal of "classic" science fiction (though this would as readily stand as fiction, or just good writing) has disappeared from print; the market appears to be otherwise. But with J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, Ursula LeGuin's novels, and other such such fare rising to the top, let's hope that the best science fiction work can be showcased -- as this appears to be. The main story, a novella, treats the relationship of a variety of figures in a role-playing and networked world. It's also a story with a great ending, a great middle and start, and genuine surprises, even in its form: the abbreviated (and underappreciated) novella. Let's hope it stays in print, and that many step forward and buy! Incidentally, Vernor Vinge does project a remarkably apt (and well-done) geographical sensibility -- he's the son of a geography professor (Michigan State University), and the inheritance has run true. That's mentioned as a not-incidental detail -- if I remember aright, Neal Stephenson was also a geography undergraduate student. It can matter.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
the story that conceived cyberspace7 mars 2001
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In 1981, vinge published the book that conceived the cyberworld that exists on the internet today. Software bots, node-hopping, 3D chat rooms, warez, avatars, a hacker underground...they are all here....and were described in this book before IBM sold its first personal computer. I am amazed at Vinge's ability to see the future. ...or, as I believe, he created the future by giving a generation of computer programmers the vision to build what he saw. True Names is a feast for the imagination. I set the book down many times while my mind reeled with extrapolations of the ideas he wrote into his story. The characters are richly developed. the climax was terrific. Read this book if you can find it. Remember when it was published (14 years before Neuromancer). I have bought 5 copies. But over the years, friends have 'liberated' 3 of them. This book is a prize.
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Interesting Story and Related Articles19 mai 2002
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Having read Vernor Vinge's "A Fire upon the deep", I was very eager to read something else of his. I've heard about "True Names" a few years ago and was really intrigued, however, I could not find this book anywhere. Therefore, I was delighted to see that it's out again - I didn't check what else is on the book, however, it would probably not have made a difference.
"True Names" is basically a medium sized story which was (apparently) groundbreaking at the time it was written (1981). In addition to this story, the book contains many articles by known figures in related areas. So what is "True Names" about ? Roger Pollack, aka Mr. Slippery, is what is called a warlock. However, he's not the type of warlock of fantasy worlds, he is a warlock of "The Other Plane" (the name Vinge uses for Cyberspace.. simply because Cyberspace has not been coined at the time the book was written). There are a lot of similarities between the two types of warlocks, Mr. Slippery has special powers because of his great knowledge of The Other Plane. Mr. Slippery also is a member of a coven of warlocks, the greatest one in The Other Plane. These people are generally good natured, but are known to cause mischief every now on then. Roger's world crumbles around him when the FBI finds his true name (they discover his secret identity). The offer him a chance to get a reduced sentence by exposing his coven, or more specifically, expose a specific member, The Mailman, whom they believe is trying to take over the world. But the FBI does not know how much they are right, and how much the situation is more dangerous than they think.. only Mr. Slippery and Erythrina, another witch from his coven, have any chance of stopping this danger before it is too late. I'm sure this story sounds great to you - well it is! I really enjoyed reading it, and it was interesting to see how many of Vinge's predictions have come true. In addition, there are many articles in the book: among them * Tim May's LONG article about Cryptography. Very interesting article, however, its relevance to the story is fairly small, and it is way too long. * Pattie Maes' article about the future of intelligent software. Short article, yet very interesting * Richard Stallman's very short story and commentary about free reading and software. Very interesting article. * Chip Morningstar and Randall Farmer's article about Habitat, the first online multi-user game. Fascinatting! So interesting to see the great ancestor of EverQuest and Muds. Also very relevant to "True Names". and there were more..
To summarize: while the articles were interesting, they were not interesting enough to buy without the actual story, and some were simply just barely related to "True Names" which was frustrating, because it made me think this was just an excuse to fill up pages. Nonetheless, the entire book is worth it because "True Names" is an excellent story, and the articles are still interesting. Just don't be embarrased to skip something if it bores you, because there are quite a lot of articles and a fairly short story in between...