Discussion about names on pulsar with Akira Sileas and the ensuing alias outings activated my memory on the True names and other dangers by Vernor Vinge. Has been a standing phrase in self-programming over the years.

Obsessing about attribution and the genealogy of knowledge wondering where I have picked that up initially. Current hypothesis is that must have found it in the jargon file when diving into Linux and the cultural snippets that came with it. There is a reference in the jargon file, quoted below. Either way, I bought on it with the label attached “like Gibson cyberspace but earlier and different better”. I had read Gibson and I probably had read Snow Crash and Diamond Age as well (via @gl03).

While not a friend of fantasy so much the book turns out quite nicely in its use of the magic metaphors to talk about computing maneuvers. Additional benefit for people that get kicked off easily by technical naivite it is built on a profound understanding of computers and computer networks like the internet.

Recommended. Where to get it?

Electronic text

An official ebook of the original edition seems not to be available. rogue online sources I’ve found is this one

Update: there is a new edition with the name “True names and the opening of the cyberspace frontier”, ebook available here for example.

Thinking about hosting the HTML copy that I have because a/ want to read original edition and b/ can’t read the PDF on the phone.

Hacker jargon file bibliography

This is clipping from the bibliography of the Hacker dictionary found here

[Vinge] True Names … and Other Dangers. Vernor Vinge. Baen Books. Copyright © 1987. ISBN 0-671-65363-6.

Hacker demigod Richard Stallman used to say that the title story of this book “expresses the spirit of hacking best”. Until the subject of the next entry came out, it was hard to even nominate another contender. The other stories in this collection are also fine work by an author who has since won multiple Hugos and is one of today’s very best practitioners of hard SF.

  • [1]
  • [2]
  • [3]


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