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Rainbows End

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  10,818 ratings  ·  697 reviews
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.
Ailleurs et Demain, 452 pages
Published June 20th 2007 by Robert laffont (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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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
Aug 27, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2009 Sophia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of cyberpunk
Shelves: sff, own, 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 (th
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
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
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
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
The worldbuilding here is fascinating, which makes it a pity that the plot is pedestrian and the characters wooden. I was willing, grudgingly, to give two stars out of respect to the astonishing inventiveness of the near-future tech, but the ending annoyed me enough that I can't even muster enough enthusiasm for that.

(view spoiler)
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
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
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
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
Althea Ann
I really love 'A Fire Upon the Deep,' and I feel like I keep waiting for Vinge to recreate that, in some form... and it keeps not happening.

I felt like 'Rainbows End' aimed at being a near-future cyber-thriller a la William Gibson - but the 'thrilling' part was missing.

There's a conspiracy to infect the world with some sort of suggestion-susceptibility, which its proponents see as the only way to 'save the world.' There's another group of NSA-types trying to stop the plan, but they don't really
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
Lo mejor del libro la verdad que es el futuro que plantea. Imagina un futuro en donde la realidad aumentada reina y para ello se hace uso de lo que se llama "Vestir". Vestir son unas ropas que están completamente conectadas a la red global y que se complementan con unas lentillas. Así, es posible que mientras estás dando un paseo y mires un pájaro veas a su lado el nombre de la especie, que cuando andes por la calle la gente te vea disfrazado de lo que tu hayas elegido, jugar a juegos en el camp ...more
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
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
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
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
Vinge's vision of the future may be more realistic than most, but his characters and plot drag. The first chapter is a bait-and-switch, introducing us to fascinating heroes, villains, and schemes, before focusing the rest of the book on less likable and interesting settings. Even one particular scene, which is identified as a diversion for the real action, is described in far greater detail across many more chapters than the situation warrants. And that's the overall problem I had with Rainbows ...more
Jan 08, 2011 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
I really struggled to finish this book, and I must admit I couldn't really follow the story in all details. Vinge seems to touch on a lot of interesting ideas, but mixes up too much of it to make it digestible - at least for me. I had the same problem with his book "A Fire Upon The Deep" which hints at super intelligent entities and the borders of space, but then tortures the reader with endless details about a medieval race of intelligent dogs.

Likewise in this book he hints at the possibilities
Gareth Otton
This was a book started with a great amount of promise and possibility but fizzled out to an eventual disappointing end.

The world building itself was well done and there were a lot of really fascinating ideas in it. I really hope that the future does hold wearable computers in it as well as some of the other interesting ideas held within the pages of this book.

Where this novel fell short was in the writing of the characters. Too often sci-fi authors tend to get hung up on the cool ideas and wo
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 as well as 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
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
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
This is the third Vernor Vinge book I've read, and it had some things in common with the first two: A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep. For starters: all 3 books won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. In addition: the all feature protagonists that aren't very easy to love (for me, at least) but who transition believably into somewhat realistic heroes by the end. They also feature lots of innovative science fiction ideas that are integral to the plot and generally dark universes.

But there
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
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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 e ...more
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