Rainbows End

Rainbows End

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
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Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky . Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.

Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a cure developed during the years of his near-fatal decline, he discovers that the world has changed and so has his place in it. He was a world-renowned poet. Now he is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he's starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts . Living with his son's family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access--through nodes designed into smart clothes--and to see the digital context--through smart contact lenses.

With knowledge comes risk. When Robert begins to re-train at Fairmont High, learning with other older people what is second nature to Miri and other teens at school, he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination.

In a world where every computer chip has Homeland Security built-in, this conspiracy is something that baffles even the most sophisticated security analysts, including Robert's son and daughter-in law, two top people in the U.S. military. And even Miri, in her attempts to protect her grandfather, may be entangled in the plot.

As Robert becomes more deeply involved in conspiracy, he is shocked to learn of a radical change planned for the UCSD Geisel Library; all the books there, and worldwide, would cease to physically exist. He and his fellow re-trainees feel compelled to join protests against the change. With forces around the world converging on San Diego, both the conspiracy and the protest climax in a spectacular moment as unique and satisfying as it is unexpected. This is science fiction at its very best, by a master storyteller at his peak.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2006
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780312856847
0312856849
Branch Call Number: FICTION Vin
Characteristics: 364 pages ; 25 cm

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Robert Gu, formerly a star poet, had succumbed to Alzheimer's in the
early 2000’s. However, modern medicine has been able to restore him to
coherent life. He struggles to adjust to life in a world where
everyone's clothes and contacts connect to holograph nodes implanted
everywhere. Learning to “wear” is a struggle for him, although his
granddaughter, who is attending classes at the same school he is, has
learned to do it from childhood and easily accomplishes connectivity
without detection. While he is adjusting to live in the new ecosystem
of connectivity, he is drawn into an international conspiracy
involving biotech, an internet presence known only as “Mr. Rabbit,”
now-aged friends from his days as a professor at UCSD, his
granddaughter and her friends, and his Department of Homeland Security
son and daughter-in-law.

The setting was compelling and fascinating, from the holograph nodes
to the “net boards” like today's forums to the concept of contact lens
overlays that made environments look completely different. It
integrates well with the plot, harkens “back” to today's San Diego,
and lets the reader imagine stories continuing well beyond the plot.

The book switches perspective while always remaining in third person:
at times, its focus is on international magnates, Robert Gu, his
granddaughter Miri, or artificial intelligences. At times, this made
the book confusing, especially as exposition is limited and readers
find out identities only by implications.

mvkramer Nov 17, 2014

This story is an absorbing and unusual political thriller set in a future of ubiquitous augmented reality. A cast of misfits works to stop the ultimate terrorist threat - without really knowing what they are doing - orchestrated by a mastermind of uncertain allegiance known as "Rabbit." A rather convoluted plot, with lots and lots of characters - but I loved seeing the different groups and their stories converge.

davewex Dec 02, 2013

Looks like Jeff Bezos enjoyed this book also: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazons-jeff-bezos-looks-to-the-future/

c
Cepros
Aug 13, 2011

The best part of this book (by far) is the world that he created. It's fantastical, but you don't have to take too far of a leap to imagine that this world very possible could be our future. There are computerized contact lenses that "project" images - if you're bored walking down the same old street, you can just use your contacts to make it seem as though you're walking through Hogwarts. It's as if everyone in the world is constantly playing a virtual reality game, and the book examines the battle between an increasingly digitized world and the value of reality (particularly in terms of books - watch out if you're reading this on a kindle because Vernor Vinge is judging you).

Often, though, Vinge creates this world to the detriment of other aspects of the novel. There is definitely a plot; however, it lags in some places and, at times, seems very removed from the action we are actually seeing. There are also a lot of loose ends that don't really get tied up, which makes me wonder if the author might do more with this story.

A lot of passages are also bogged down with technical jargon (which might not be so much of a problem if you've got a firm grasp on that stuff). However, for people like me, with only a basic knowledge of technical terms, some of it was a bit daunting. At points, I found myself wondering if a certain word was real or if it was a made-up futuristic term. I used the dictionary more than once.

Final verdict - definitely worth a read, if only for the setting, because it's absolutely fantastic. You also might have to keep reading despite the protagonist, who is a complete jerk at the beginning. All in all, it's a well-written, very knowledgeable look into what the world will be like in the not-too-distant future.

s
stuvw27
Jan 31, 2011

Not Mr. Vinge's best. Read's like it was written by a mathematician and computer scientist and.. HEY, it was!!

b
bluemeadow
Oct 21, 2010

One of the most intense internet futore books I have ever read. Truly unique.

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