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Joan D. Vinge

Joan D. VingeAKA Joan Carol Vinge

Born: 2-Apr-1948
Birthplace: Baltimore, MD

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Eyes of Amber

Joan D. Vinge is the author of numerous film adaptations and well as "hard" science fiction short stories, various children's books, and at least ten science fiction novels. She is the winner of two Hugo Awards and holds the distinction of being the first author to have a children's science fiction book, Star Wars Return of the Jedi Storybook, place number one on the New York Times Bestseller list. She holds a degree in anthropology, and is the ex-wife of science fiction author Vernor Vinge.

She was born Joan Carol Dennison in 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father, Seymour Dennison, was an aircraft engineer and her mother, Carol, an executive secretary. She developed an early interest in astronomy and outer space when her father bought the family a telescope. She began drawing when she was 8 years old, and she discovered science fiction stories in junior high. She developed an great love for the work of Andre Norton, whom she credits as her earliest influence in the genre. When Vinge began college her original intent was to major in art, but she quickly became disillusioned with her teachers and felt more and more discouraged as artist. She eventually switched majors to anthropology, earning her B.A. from San Diego State University in 1971. After graduation she worked as a salvage archaeologist in San Diego County.

In January of 1972 she married science fiction writer and mathematician Vernor Vinge, and the following year began her own serious efforts to write science fiction. She sold her first story, a novelette entitled "Tin Soldier" in 1974 for publication in Orbit 14, an anthology. Additional stories were published in Analog, Asimov's Science Fiction, Galileo and even Omni. Her first novel, The Outcasts of Heaven's Belt appeared in 1978. A collection of her short fiction, Fireship, appeared that same year. And yet another collection, Eyes of Amber And Other Stories, was published in 1979. The titular novelette won her the Hugo Award.

In December of 1979 the Vinges divorced and a year later Joan married James Frenkel, an editor and publisher. In that same year, 1980, she broke new ground as a writer with a Hugo and a Locus Award for her full-length novel The Snow Queen. Based loosely on a story by Hans Christian Andersen (as her earlier "Tin Soldier" had also been) it would later be followed by two sequels, and a prequel set in the same universe. Another book that same year, Legacy, followed up her earlier The Outcasts of Heaven's Belt.

In the 80s Vinge became very busy with movie novelizations, producing book versions of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Lady Halcon/Ladyhawke, Willow: A Novel, Santa Claus: The Movie, and a number of others. She also churned out a few children's story book adaptations, including The Dune Storybook and the Star Wars Return of the Jedi Storybook, the latter of which won the North Dakota Children's Choice Award for 1984. The book also earned the distinction of holding the #1 bestseller spot on the New York Times Book Review List for two months running. Not only was it the first book of its kind to reach #1 on the list, but it was also the bestselling hardcover book for all of 1983. Other projects in this time period included Psion (the first installment in her Cat series), which garnered the 1982 Best Book for Young Adults citation from the American Library Association.

In the first several years of her career Vinge earned the reputation of being one of the few women authors of "hard" science fiction, and she was a frequent contributor to Analog, which was certainly the publication most devoted to that style. Yet at the same time her stories have long been noted for their strong character development as well as their willingness to tackle such "soft" science issues as social structures and gender roles -- not surprising given her anthropological background.

Vinge continues to publish for both children and adults. In 1998 she authored a novelization of Lost in Space, and her 1999 The Random House Book of Greek Myths has been highly acclaimed and recommended. Her most recent projects include a "prehistorical" saga set in Europe. She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Father: Seymour W. Dennison (engineer)
Mother: Carol Erwin (executive secretary)
Husband: Vernor Vinge (science fiction author, m. 17-Jan-1972, div. Dec-1979)

    University: BA Anthropology, San Diego State University (1971)

    Hugo 1979
    Hugo 1980

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978, novel)
Eyes of Amber and Other Stories (1979, novel)
The Snow Queen (1980, novel)
Legacy (1980, novel)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985, novel)
Star Wars Return of the Jedi Storybook (1983, juvenile)
Psion (1982, novel)

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