Ok, so it's space opera. I'm not a great fan of great big flying-about-in-rockets-fighting-the-aliens novels. However, Vernon Vinge is a computer science professor, and it actually shows through in such ways to make this a really good novel. From a universe where computational limitations are a function of space through to intelligent networked wolves, it's all very funky and compsci. And it holds together rather well. I'd read True Names before, which is supposed to be a proto-cyberpunk classic, and I'd enjoyed that, so really I suppose I should have tried his other books earlier.