ABSTRACT

This chapter introduces US author and professor of mathematics and computer sciences Vernor Vinge, who is also an award-winning writer. Perhaps most famously, Vinge is the inventor and promoter of the idea of the “Singularity,” the exponential and uncontrollable development of artificial intelligence leading to a point of no return. Vinge posits that the Singularity can have unforeseen developments, such as the physical merging of human and AI. Vinge’s status as a major science fiction writer was established early on with the publication of his novella True Names (1981). Half proto-cyberpunk novel, half computer game-like fantasy, True Names is a milestone in speculative fiction as it conveys all the topics that will be developed later in the cyberpunk mode: government control, cyberwar and hacking, and even a transhumanist Singularity when a dying character uploads her mind into cyberspace. Vinge not only introduces an iconic description of cyberspace in True Names, but also helped develop narrative tropes that became standards of cyberpunk fiction, such as hacker communities sheltering themselves behind anonymity, explorations around transhumanist bodily transcendence, the ambivalence of large power structures (whether governmental or corporate) using AI for their own purposes, and the revolutionary political power of hacking.