Across Realtime encompasses two stories: The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime. As you might guess from the titles, the latter is much cooler than the former. Having read Marooned in Realtime first as a separate paperback, I already knew most of the big technological reveals in The Peace War. In fact, after about 200 pages I just couldn’t finish the The Peace War; I didn’t care about the characters or the plot enough to make it through the climax and denouement.
However, Marooned in Realtime is certainly worth a read – both for the overview of the “bobble” technology, as well for an engaging story. Throw in a murder mystery and some allusions to big scifi ideas, and you’ve got a great novel. Still, I think Vinge shines brightest when he puts us in the Qeng Ho universe. Starting with the best, I’d sort his novels (the ones I’ve read, anyway) as follows: