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Reviews by Doug Reeder

“The Peace War” by Vernor Vinge

About 2 min reading time

Review ©️ 1996 by P. Douglas Reeder

Vinge writes science fiction of the old school -- the main characters saving the world, new inventions produced in a matter of days, evil schemers to be thwarted. But his technology is up to date, his style is modern, and he gives plausible explanations of actions and events that don't happen in everyday life.

Forty years from now, the world population is much reduced from plagues that swept the world at the end of the '90s and beginning of the 21st century. The "Peace Authority" functions as an over-government to the nations, feudal autocracies, and the mostly-civilized anarchies that remain. It retains its power by control of bobbles -- force fields, and denying high-energy technologies to the rest of the world. The Tinkers do allowed hi-tech (mostly electronics and computers) as a cottage industry, making for an unusual blend of pre-industrial and high technology. The world is well-drawn, and provides a fair amount of the interest of this novel.

Paul Naismith, the old polymath who largely invented the bobbles forty years ago, has been hiding from the Peace Authority all this time, plotting its overthrow. He takes on Wili Wachendon, a teenage genius and escapee from forced labor, as his apprentice. Aided by the policeman Miguel Rosas, the Tinkers, and Paul's old girlfriend Allison Parker, an astronaut strangely catapulted into the future, they start their rebellion in earnest. Della Lu is the Peace Authority's most capable agent, with an uncanny ability to figure out the rebel's plans.

The plot straightforwardly follows the characters as they come together and their plans mature, and Della as she uncovers their plans. There is almost no on-camera violence. Although emotional interaction between the characters is not major element, the characters are interesting enough and believable enough that this is not a trite adventure story. One of the characters betrays the others, for a not-unreasonable reason. There is not much of a romantic sub-plot. (Though there is one episode of gratuitous sex.)

Vinge has also written a sequel (sort of) to this, entitled "Marooned in Realtime"

If this interests you, read it soon. The plagues start in 1997. :-)

%T The Peace War
%A Vernor Vinge
%I Bluejay Books, Inc.
%C New York
%D copyright 1984
%N ISBN 0-312-94342-3
%O hardback, 286 pp
%X melodramatic SF action-adventure