I am a Vernor Vinge completionist, so it was with great horror that I realized I’d somehow missed his 2004 novella, “The Cookie Monster.” I managed to find the first half of “The Cookie Monster” online in Analog, but got stumped trying to find the rest of it in-print. It’s apparently in back issues of Analog and some IEEE related magazine (!) – no luck finding those. I even ordered the wrong anthology on Amazon because it mentioned “The Cookie Monster” in the foreword and a different story by Vinge was in the collection. Fortunately, the author took pity on me and pointed me at the only in-print version available: Nebula Awards Showcase 2006.
After all this work, one might reasonably expect to be let down by the actual story (via the laws of Comic Effect). No such thing – this was a killer, give-you-goose-bumps story and left me with a whole new appreciation of cookies (in the software engineering sense).
Spoiler alert: Don’t read the Wikipedia article on “The Cookie Monster” – you can hardly glance at it without ruining the whole plot.