Joan (Carol) D(ennison) Vinge Jack Sullivan - Essay

Jack Sullivan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The Snow Queen"] gets nicely off the ground several times only to be dragged down again and again by banality. The best passages occur in the exposition itself, as Miss Vinge establishes the sociological and cosmic rules of the planet Tiamat, with its unstable twin suns, its Winter and Summer Queens, its Black Gates to other worlds, its outer region "where space was twisted like a string, tied into knots so that far became near and time was caught up in the loop."

Unfortunately, Miss Vinge's human and alien characters speak such awful gibberish that it's difficult to keep one's attention on the world they inhabit…. The worst offender is the heroine, Moon Dawntreader, the Queen's clone, who apparently sees herself as a font of profundity and poetry….

These people are a bad influence on Miss Vinge. Whenever one of them makes a speech, her own prose becomes insufferable: "The Sea rested, sublime in Her Indifference, an imperturbable mirror for the face of universal truth. Today never ends in Carbuncle … will tomorrow really ever come?" Miss Vinge must think this is really terrific, or she wouldn't use capital letters and italics; that's much more fantastic than anything in this novel. (p. 29)

Jack Sullivan, "Ordinarily Fantastic," in The New York Times Book Review, August 3, 1980, pp. 12, 29.∗