A new classic of speculative fiction. It has spaceships and rivets, but no dragons. However I won't quite call it science fiction, since it lies near the ever-shifting boundary between the zones.
Mediaeval cruelty, warring super-intelligences, transcendence, the awakening of ancient evil, and a desperate rescue mission which has at its object the galaxy as a whole and at the same time a single lost child. Avatars and mythical heroes, atrocities, obscenities and perversions.
Vinge illuminates small areas of a vast canvas in intricate detail, hinting at an awesome magical background that fires the imagination.
His aliens are human enough to care about, but alien enough to be interesting. The Tines are a particular joy, and I haven't seen anything like them before.
A riot. Heartily recommended!