"Eyes of Amber" is a science fiction short story by American writer Joan D. Vinge. It was first published as the cover story for the June 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Cover of the issue of Analog in which "Eyes of Amber" first appeared.



When bandit queen T'uupieh — a native of Titan — discovers a human space probe, she thinks it is a supernatural entity, and brings it with her to serve as an advisor. The humans monitoring the probe must decide whether to interfere with her culture by dissuading her from committing atrocities, or sell videos of her atrocities in order to fund their continued research.



"Eyes of Amber" won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novelette;[1] Vinge subsequently reported learning that bookies had offered 40-to-1 odds against her winning.[2]

A review in Foundation drew attention to the contrast between the quasi-medieval society on Titan and the "advanced technology of the (probe's) control room",[3] while at Black Gate, Steven H. Silver noted that the story is predicated upon cultural imperialism.[4]

James Nicoll has observed that T'uupieh's species is "not very alien",[5] and "resemble(s) 1940s Leigh Brackett aliens rather than anything scientifically plausible";[6] similarly, Mike Ashley has described it as a "rationalized planetary romance".[7]


  1. ^ 1978 Hugo Awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved October 15, 2018
  2. ^ On The Radical Notion That Women Are People, by Joan D. Vinge, at Tor Books; published October 5, 2015; retrieved October 15, 2018; "I found out that year that someone—in Vegas?—was making book on who was going to win the Hugos. The odds against “Eyes of Amber” were 40 to 1. I really wish I’d known that in time to put down a bet on it."
  3. ^ Eyes of Amber and Other Stories, reviewed by Ann Collier, in Foundation; October 1, 1980; archived at ProQuest
  4. ^ Birthday Reviews: Joan D. Vinge’s “Eyes of Amber”, by Steven H. Silver, at Black Gate; published April 2, 2018; retrieved October 15, 2018
  5. ^ Eyes of Amber and Other Stories by Joan Vinge, reviewed by James Nicoll, at Dreamwidth; published April 16, 2009; retrieved October 15, 2018
  6. ^ Why is there no The Complete Collected Works of Joan D. Vinge?, at James Nicoll Reviews; published March 21, 2016; retrieved October 15, 2018
  7. ^ Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980, by Mike Ashley; published 2007 by Liverpool University Press

Eyes of Amber title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database