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587 Joan D. Vinge: Snow Queen

On the planet Tiamat, the cycle of power, love, and technology unfolds amidst the enigmatic Snow Queen’s reign.



"Snow Queen" takes place on the distant planet Tiamat, a world with a unique climate, split between long winters and short summers. The novel revolves around the reign of the enigmatic and beautiful Snow Queen, Arienrhod, who wields immense power over the planet's inhabitants. The story follows two central characters: Moon, a young sorceress from the desolate "Downs," and Jerusha, a government official from the technologically advanced space-faring world of Hydros.

As the cycle of power and technology unfolds, Moon and Jerusha find themselves entangled in a web of political intrigue, love, and rebellion against the oppressive rule of the Snow Queen. Moon's destiny becomes intertwined with the secret of the "Firefrost," a mysterious technology that could either liberate or destroy Tiamat.


Title: Snow Queen 

Author: Joan D. Vinge 

Publishing Year: 1980 

Publisher: Dial Press 

Length: 20 hours and 41 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. The Dominance of the Snow Queen: Arienrhod's reign of power over Tiamat's seasons and its inhabitants shapes the fate of the planet.
  2. The Dual Worlds of Tiamat: The contrasting regions of "Up" and "Down" represent different societies and technological levels on Tiamat.
  3. Moon's Journey of Self-Discovery: Moon's coming-of-age story as she discovers her identity, magical abilities, and role in the unfolding events.
  4. The Enigma of the Firefrost: The mystery and potential danger posed by the ancient technology known as the Firefrost.
  5. Love and Rebellion: Themes of love, sacrifice, and resistance against oppression weave through the characters' actions and decisions.

5 funny quotes

  1. "The Snow Queen's beauty could freeze a man in his tracks, but not if he's wearing a thermal suit."
  2. "There's nothing like a love triangle to add some extra chill to a planetary power struggle."
  3. "When the Snow Queen gives you a frosty look, it's best not to ask for a hug."
  4. "The downsiders have a saying: 'When life gives you snow, build a snowman.'"
  5. "If you ever get lost in Tiamat's ice caves, just follow the glow of the Firefrost."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Once you saw past the beauty of the Snow Queen, you saw the calculations. The control. The unwavering grip on power."
  2. "In the cycle of power and love, the line between ally and adversary is as thin as ice."
  3. "The Firefrost holds both the potential for salvation and the seeds of destruction. It is a force beyond comprehension."
  4. "In the coldest of winters, the human heart can ignite the warmest fires of rebellion."
  5. "Technology can be both a gift and a curse, shaping destinies and testing the very essence of humanity."

5 dilemmas

  1. The dilemma of power and its effects on individuals and societies, as witnessed through the reign of the Snow Queen.
  2. The moral dilemma of choosing between loyalty to one's people and personal desires when caught in the web of politics and love.
  3. The ethical dilemma of utilizing advanced technology like the Firefrost, with its potential to bring salvation or destruction.
  4. The emotional dilemma of Moon as she grapples with her identity, magical abilities, and responsibilities to her people and her heart.
  5. The existential dilemma of balancing the desire for freedom with the understanding that power often comes with sacrifices and consequences.

5 examples

  1. Moon Dawntreader - The young sorceress from the "Downs," possessing unique magical abilities and caught in the Snow Queen's web of power.
  2. Arienrhod - The enigmatic and beautiful Snow Queen of Tiamat, wielding control over the planet's seasons and people.
  3. Jerusha PalaThion - A government official from the advanced world of Hydros, sent to Tiamat on a mission that leads her into the heart of the political intrigue.
  4. The Firefrost - The ancient and mysterious technology at the center of Tiamat's power struggles, sought by both Moon and Arienrhod for different reasons.
  5. Hydros - The technologically advanced space-faring world from which Jerusha hails, representing a stark contrast to the primitive society of Tiamat's "Downs."

Referenced books

  1. "The Winter Queen" by Boris Akunin - Referenced in the novel, highlighting the theme of queenship and power.
  2. "The Lady of the Lake" by Andrzej Sapkowski - Alluded to in the context of epic storytelling and mythical tales.
  3. "Iliad" by Homer - Mentioned in the narrative, reflecting on themes of heroism and sacrifice.
  4. "Ringworld" by Larry Niven - Alluded to as an example of science fiction exploration and world-building.
  5. "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen - The fairy tale that serves as an inspiration for the character of Arienrhod.

Share a quote

"There's nothing like a love triangle to add some extra chill to a planetary power struggle."

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