Rainbows End
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Rainbows End

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  8,625 ratings  ·  621 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 381 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2006)
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Clouds

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
...more
David
Aug 27, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poet laureates learning to Google, rascally rabbits in cyberspace
Although I did not love this book as much as his Zones of Thought space operas, Vernor Vinge has yet to disappoint me. Rainbows End is not really a cyberpunk novel, but "post-cyberpunk." It takes place in a world that looks a lot like ours, if you just extrapolate out the technology. (Almost) everyone is wired, you can carry petabytes in your pocket (the sum total of all recorded human media on the equivalent of a USB drive), the world is globally-connected in ways we still are dreaming about bu...more
Res
The one where a Rip van Winkle figure is cured of Alzheimer's and has to figure out how to live in the future, and apparently gets involved in some sort of plot involving mind control technology.

I gave it fifty pages, and every single one was an effort.

This book has tons of ideas, large and small. As a portrait of the niftiness and danger of the future, I suppose it's reasonably good, though it's rather slow and didactic compared with the pleasant breathless hurtle of cyberpunk (my usual danger...more
Sophia
Feb 25, 2009 Sophia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of cyberpunk
Shelves: own, sff, 2007
I loved Gibson's Neuromancer and I liked Stephenson's Snow Crash , and this is basically the same thing for the current generation except it leans a little more towards the techno-thriller side, like Michael Crichton if he were actually a good writer and knew more about his subject than what he'd just dug up via research. Vinge is a mathematician and computer scientist, so his vision of 2025 rings a helluva lot more true than many others.

The major drawbacks to this book are a lopsided plot (the...more
Kris
In the near future, a victim of Alzheimer's has been cured and rejuvinated. Robert Gu must now use his 90's oriented brain to navigate the world of the 2020's. So, like many of the elderly in the latter decade, he goes back to high school.

Among other things, he must learn to understand how to "wear." To wear is to use internet-ready computers embedded into one's clothing and contact lenses. (The I/O for these devices consists for the most part in subtle movements of the eye.) Those who can wear...more
Tim Lepczyk
I'll start off with something positive to say about Rainbows End. The best things about this novel are the ideas about technology and what the world could look like in an even more networked future where information is the form of currency. However, this isn't a new idea at all, here's a quote from Gravity's Rainbow regarding information, "A tragic sigh. 'Information. What's wrong with dope and women? Is it a wonder the world's gone insane, with information come to be the only real medium of exc...more
Seán
I'm trying to understand. I'm trying to see things from the perspective of the Rainbows End enthusiast, i.e., those people inflating its rating on this site and elsewhere justifying its Hugo. Yet, try as I might, their reasons remain cyborg opaque. I mean, these people certainly ain't fiction lovers.

Despite a heavy rep from A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, Vinge neglects all the traditional hallmarks of decent fiction. What you notice after a promising start (if only he stuck with...more
Mike Moore
I'm a fan of Vinge's work, and I've had to wrestle a little with the idea that my dislike for this book might just be the result of it being different from the other things he's done. On balance, I don't think that this is the case. This is a book with serious flaws in both credibility and storytelling. On the credibility side, Vinge creates horrific inconsistencies in his visions of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and augmented human interaction which he doesn't even try to paper over...more
Allan Dyen-shapiro
Most genre fiction is character-driven. Uniquely among genres, science-fiction can be idea-driven. This book is. So, that I didn't really empathize or care about any of the characters isn't a valid criticism. Idea-driven science fiction can be brilliant (for example, most Phillip K. Dick, Crash by JG Ballard, etc).

In this book, the main plot is the attempt to investigate a use of media and neurochemicals to operate on learning/memory as a weapon of control. That would have been very cool if it...more
Tamahome
Starting over again. I'm most interested in the grouchy poet. At least the rabbit has a funny voice in the audiobook. Before I lost interest in the middle. But hey it won a Hugo, so it must be good.

Ok, here's where I left off the first time:

page 254/381 = 66% = 9:50/14:45 in the audio

Will Tamahome make it over the hump the second time?

47% - I think last time I got bored by all the new characters in the library. Remember, Rainbows End has no apostrophe.

53% - With all the visuals, maybe I would l...more
David
I really wanted to like this book - as a "concept" story, it's extremely engaging, exploring a not-too-distant possible future where our "plugged-in", multitasking, social networking culture becomes ridiculously pervasive (in conjunction with an economy that increasingly value those who collate and analyze vs. those who produce), with all the amazing advantages and frightening disadvantages that confers. I especially liked how our viewpoint character was a man who, successful to the point of arr...more
Ben Babcock
A few weeks ago, Bruce Sterling shared his thoughts on hacking and activism three years after first discussing the Wikileaks scandal. One thing he said really stuck with me:

Even the electronic civil lib contingent is lying to themselves. They’re sore and indignant now, mostly because they weren’t consulted—but if the NSA released PRISM as a 99-cent Google Android app, they’d be all over it. Because they are electronic first, and civil as a very distant second.

They’d be utterly thrilled to have t
...more
Ron
Vernor Vinge continues to delight with well-plotted and offbeat SF. Rainbow's End is a tale about loss, growing old and getting a second chance, and how that affects bad family dynamics, along with the usual gobs of interesting speculation about the future. I didn't quite follow the motivation of the main character's changes of heart during the middle of the book, but by the end it came together reasonably well. The greatest strengths of the story are in the utterly believable future world Vinge...more
Ping
When I think of 'science fiction', Isaac Asimov comes to mind; perhaps a rather fossilised idea, but because of at least one or two that I had tried to read of Asimov many many years ago, I never delved into scifi much more than that. Seemed too technical. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin, on the other hand, I really enjoyed: a portrayal of how the human species becomes adapted to the world that it's in. So Vinge was an out-of-the-blue read that expanded my re-introduction of the scif...more
Ron
Jan 08, 2011 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jon Moss
Shelves: science-fiction
The best Vinge I've read yet. Fully engaging in a believable just-over-the-horizon scenario with the usual twists expected of Vinge. Lots of fun.

One concern: he notes--and defuses--a future confrontation between "circles" of believers in alternate literary realities. It would be sad if such came to pass, but history shows that people do get fired up over what they believe in, even if it is a particular literary convention.
Erik
Essentially every review for this book says the same thing, so I'll state it plainly and simply: This is an "ideas" sci-fi book. The ideas are fascinating. The writing, dialogue, characterization, and plot are mediocre at best.

The plot is incredibly domestic. Robert Gu, an old once-genius poet with Alzheimer's, has his youth and mind restored by medical science. Unfortunately, his poetical genius is lost somewhere in the restoration and his attempts to get it back embroil him a larger plot invol...more
Michael David Cobb
One of the cool things about being on the conservative side of life having previously been on the progressive side, is that I have developed senses for the narratives that are supposed to appeal to me as the Peasant I am. Which is to say that since I get propaganda from MoveOn.org as well as RedState.com I'm familiar with the diatribes.

Just a bit ago I tripped by the names of Barthes and Levi-Strauss. By way of my now fully developed conservative spidey senses, I know that I'm supposed to be war...more
Bethany
I found this book on a "best of sci-fi" list, and it lived up to the listing. This book did a lot of things right. I liked that the technology is a logical progression from where we are today in the timeline of the near future - it didn't try to advance the human species to a crazy new plane of existence in a couple of decades like some do.

I also appreciated that the author did not spend any time on inner (or outer) monologues to 'explain' all the cool new tech that the reader has never heard o...more
Randy Ray
The first half of the book is really strong. It's set in the near future, and the protagonist has been cure of Alzheimer's disease. He used to be a famous poet, but the world has changed so much because of technology that he's forced to go back to high school to adapt to the changes. This part of the book is strong and well-written, and the reader thinks that the book is going to be about the poet's struggle to become a productive member of the new cyber society as presented in the novel.

But the...more
Robert Kroese
I made it about 2/3 of the way through this book before giving up in sheer exhaustion. With a lot of sci-fi books, there's an initial period of exposition and world-building that lasts for a hundred pages or so, and I slogged though, thinking that it would be easier going a little further on. I started to despair around page 200, however, when the complexity of the plot and the technological shenanigans seemed to be increasing geometrically.

Around page 235 I realized I didn't have a freaking clu...more
Anastasia
I actually really liked it. Takes place sometime in the mid-to-late 21st century, a realistic portrayal of how the world might be, with emphasis on pervasive technology: think smart phones and Google-everything-you-encounter taken to the nth degree. Technology built into clothing (so you can text and search the internet without visibly moving at all), VR overlays via contact lenses, information at your fingertips. Into this strange-yet-familiar world is thrust Robert Gu, an 80-something year old...more
Melody Hiatt
I was originally drawn to this novel because I am fascinated by the ideas that surround the relationship between humans and technology, and I was told that this novel is saturated with these ideas. And it delivered! The ideas of how technology is ingrained in humanity is quite prevalent in this novel, just to understate it. Science Fiction is often filled with these ideas, and this novel fits right into that description.

Robert Gu is a 75 year-old man who, thanks to the new types of medicine and...more
Mark
Apr 25, 2008 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: hard core scifi fans only!
I have enjoyed in my life reading Sci-fi, with Philip K Dick being amoung the strangest (movies Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner, Scanner Darkly, and Paycheck being among the best of his works), but right up there have been the works of Vernor Vinge. None of his have been made into movies, and to be honest, this one isn't his best. However, if you want to read The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime, you will not be disappointed!

Rainbow's end is in the not too distant future, when gove...more
Andrew
I tried. I really wanted to love this book and its protagonist Robert Gu, a world-renowned poet who at age seventy-five was given treatment that not only reversed his Alzheimer's, but gave him the body of a twenty-five year old in the process. It's a novel about connecting with a lapsed generation and also generations of family long neglected. There are also global conspiracies, library riots and Fahrenheit 451-style book cleansings, and far too much needless HTML-based artifice—the silent messa...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Before I wrote my review, I listened to Luke Burrage's review on SFBRP, and the recent podcast discussion of it on SFF Audio. I was curious to see if the discussion would make me like it any more, and it might have boosted it to 3.5 stars, but I'm still going with 3.

Some of the story was really relevant to my work in the academic library world, and the story of all the books being destroyed in the UCSD Geisel Library didn't seem like very far future to me, especially with the premise that they w...more
Lesley Battler
Rainbows End: perfect title for this book. Like technology, rainbows shimmer with colour and the hope of escape from an old, fallen world into a transcendent new one. But in this novel rainbows rise, arch and end somewhere back on an earth where everything is both strange and familiar.

I didn't find RE an easy read. The book is layered with several different narratives that continually criss-cross and disrupt each other. Geography does nothing to anchor the reader, shifting as it does from physic...more
Dan
Jan 06, 2010 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cyberpunk fiction fans
This book is about the future, approximately 2025. People interact with the internet via clothes that measure minute muscular twitches. The display is delivered through contact lenses. This allows information and simulations to be layered directly on top of vision. This book explores many interesting ramifications of what this level of technological integration would be. The most interesting aspect of this, to me, was how it affected education. Mainly that students were taught "Search and Analys...more
Talkswithwind
A book set in an indeterminate period somewhere between 2020 and 2040. This is a nice character driven book that also explores concepts of what a future would look like. In this future computing is nearly ubiquitous and government surveillance is universal, if they know to look. Meanwhile, the world is a much more creative place.

This was a very nice book. A variety of backgrounds allow the reader to explore different aspects of the world. From net-savvy kids, to recovering Alzheimer's senior ci...more
Sarah
Another attempt at finding some light reading on the sci fi shelf... and another, "Oh my, this is literature and wonderful and everyone should read it!" experience instead.

Vinge does such a great job of world building that, at least on the big conceptual ideas, it's easy to see the future he predicts as the most likely one to be realized. The spy vs. spy plot struck me, frankly, as primarily a really good reason to build this PARTICULAR future, and not in and of itself especially compelling. In...more
Dan
Just the sort of science fiction that I like. It's set in the not-too-distance future. It illustrates a bold, coherent vision for where technology and society are going. And it has a page-turning plot. Too many science fiction books are fantasy novels set in space, but _Rainbows End_ is nothing of the kind.

What really stood out to me was the way in which information had become completely ubiquitous. There's limitless hardware everywhere, and the interfaces to it have become completely seamless....more
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Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels A Fire Upon The Deep (1992), A Deepness in the Sky (1999) and Rainbows End (2006), his Hugo Award-winning novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High (2002) and The Cookie Monster (2004), as well as for his 1993 essay...more
More about Vernor Vinge...
A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought, #1) A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2) The Peace War (Across Realtime, #1) Marooned in Realtime (Across Realtime, #2) The Children of the Sky  (Zones of Thought #3)

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