Science fiction master Vernor Vinge dead at 79

Triple Hugo Award-winning author Vernor Vinge died Wednesday at 79.

Vinge sold his first science-fiction story in 1964, "Apartness", which appeared in the June 1965 issue of New Worlds.

In 1971, he received a PhD (Math) from UCSD, and the next year began teaching at San Diego State University. It wasn't until almost thirty years later, in August 2000, that he retired from teaching to write science-fiction full time.

Start with True Names, a cyberpunk novel from 1981 that had it all.

The story follows the progress of a group of computer hackers (called "warlocks") who are early adopters of a new full-immersion virtual reality technology, called the "Other Plane". Warlocks penetrate computers around the world for personal profit or curiosity. They must keep their true identities ("True Names") secret even from each other and from the "Great Enemy", the United States government, as those who know a warlock's True Name can force him to work on their behalf, or cause a "True Death" by killing the warlock in real life.

David Brin:

Accused by some of a grievous sin – that of 'optimism' – Vernor gave us peerless legends that often depicted human success at overcoming problems… those right in front of us… while posing new ones! New dilemmas that may lie just ahead of our myopic gaze. He would often ask: "What if we succeed? Do you think that will be the end of it?"

Previously: Vernor Vinge's Children of the Sky: bootstrapping high-tech civilization from hive-mind Machiavellis (2011)