Once in a while a science fiction story is so visionary—yet so close to impending scientific developments—that it is not only an accurate predictor, but is itself the locus for new discoveries and developments. True Names is exactly such a work. This classic novella, which first appeared in the early 1980s, all but invented cyberspace.
Here we find not only Vernor Vinge's classic tale but also several essays on its lasting influence and import—as well as its sturdy and ongoing ties to the Internet more generally. These articles are the work of computer scientists and journalists at the cutting edge of the field, including, among others: Danny Hillis, founder of Thinking Machines and the first Disney Fellow; Timothy C. May, former chief scientist at Intel—and a major insider in the field of computers and technology; Marvin Minsky, co-founder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab; Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer, co-developers of Habitat (the first real computer interactive environment); Mark Pesce, co-creator of VRML and the author of The Playful World: How Technology Transforms Our Imagination; and Richard M. Stallman, research affiliate with MIT and founder of the Free Software movement.