Vernor Vinge isn't a name in the UK and I don't know why but it could be that he has not been as prolific a writer as some. I discovered him in the States about a decade ago when I bought a book from a second hand stall. If someone told me that Iain M Banks and Alastair Reynolds had borrowed their themes from VV I would not be surprised. Intelligent, complex stories. Elegantly written. Here we have universe that you want to go to - with alien, aliens. The idea of a galaxy where zones limit the upper limit of complexity gives a backdrop for variety where medieval rubs up against the future.
What else? Well we have Powers (think a cross between Banks' Minds and a Transcended Race), Perversions/Blight (Godlike hegemonizing swarms) and aliens so odd that they make every other writer look a bit short changed in the imagination dept. Like so many other great sci-fi writers he has a doctorate in physics which keeps his universe believable and intelligent. Good plots, solid characters you believe in. Please read it and then tell me that Skroderiders are not the most appealing and loveable species ever dreamed up. If they don't exist out there, they should.