David's Reviews > Rainbows End

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
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Jan 31, 11

Read in January, 2011

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 arrogance in his own (read: OUR own) era, now has to start from square one and go back to high school in this brave new world which is as alien to him as it is to the reader.

Other than him, however, the characters in this book just seemed like cardboard cutouts that existed in order to showcase this new world, and to forward the larger plot of international intrigue and information warfare...which, frustratingly, (Spoiler alert!) never really resolves. We never find out just what exactly the villain's scheme was, nor why he felt it would save the world. We never find out just who or what the mysterious "Rabbit" character that serves to forward so much of the plot is, and what he really wants. The protagonists don't really have much of a hand in saving the day, and many of the somewhat compelling side characters just kind of get "dropped" by the end. We never even get to find out why "Rainbows End" doesn't have an apostrophe as it should, even though there is a chapter called "the missing apostrophe!" Maybe I am just not "LEET" enough to "get it." After all, I only have a PhD.

Maybe this all would have worked as a short-story, and I know there is a certain Gibsonian school of cyberpunk that treats the plot and characters as kind of irrelevant next to how "awesomely cool and LEET" the technology is...but frankly, I could have dealt with 50% less technobabble and 200% more character development, and been even more impressed. Still, I think at least PORTIONS of this book should be required reading for the training of new teachers and new librarians, entering into this brave new "information frontier"....
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