Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rainbows End” as Want to Read:
Rainbows End
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rainbows End

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  17,610 ratings  ·  1,007 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rainbows End, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Atvars There are similarities (both the book and the movie have AI and humans, and Robert Gu is an elderly guy), but that's about it, IMO.…moreThere are similarities (both the book and the movie have AI and humans, and Robert Gu is an elderly guy), but that's about it, IMO.(less)
Pat Everyone is different, but I will say that I felt the same as you, considered stopping. I forced myself to finish, and am not sure it was worth it for…moreEveryone is different, but I will say that I felt the same as you, considered stopping. I forced myself to finish, and am not sure it was worth it for me. Ideas were interesting, but I still am not sure what the plot was.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,610 ratings  ·  1,007 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Rainbows End

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 beca
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A Review Wherein I Postulate The End of Humanity:

...but first the boring stuff:

Ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas :]

Writing, characterization, plot, and dialogue :[

Basically, the plot focus is all wrong. It's incredibly domestic. If plots were pokemon, this one would involve a Magikarp and a Gyrados... and focus on the Magikarp.

I mean dang, look at that BAMF.

Basically, Robert Gu, an old poet with Alzheimer's, has his youth and mind restored by medical science. Unfortunately, his poetical genius
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
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
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
“Nowadays, Grand Terror technology was so cheap that cults and small criminal gangs could acquire it.”

Don't panic just yet, the above quote refers to nowadays in the narrative, not the actual nowadays, though I suppose that could also be a possibility…

Near future sf is not something I get to read often, it makes a change from the standard far future setting of most sf, no galaxy-spanning human empire, usually no aliens, and never time travel. The setting is mostly recognizable as an environment
Jul 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 (
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a near future SF. I read is as a part of monthly reading for November 2020 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group. The novel won Hugo in 2007 as well as several other awards.

The story has very interesting concept: with development of technology, dangerous tech, which can lead to massive death toll becomes available to even minor and relatively poor groups – from modified viruses to chemical and nuclear weapons. The story starts with an innocuous variation of virus spreading in Europe
L.S. Popovich
Audiobook. DNF at 40%. Futuristic but not at the same time. Novels wherein the main character is a writer suffering from writer's block really bother me. Writers who don't write, yet consider themselves incredible writers. Why do they make such poor main characters I wonder? Yeah. Disengaged by the wandering around the library commenting on books. Too conversational. Concepts were introduced and abandoned for mundane antics. Vernor Vinge is probably a talented idea-oriented author who sometimes ...more
Mike Moore
Oct 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Althea Ann
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jul 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Kara 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
Aug 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing
2008 January 14 - This winner of the 2007 Hugo Award is set mostly in San Diego of twenty years in the future. It's a future where current trends in network computing are extrapolated. The internet isn't just some box in your house that you log into, but is embedded in the clothes you wear, is read on the inside of your contact lenses, and where the consensual reality of your affinity groups overlay the real world. Robert Gu is a suddenly medically recovered Alzheimer patient, essentially a visi ...more
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Megan Baxter
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took me an absurdly long time to track down this book, and then when the dust settled, I somehow found myself in possession of two mass market editions. (I bought one at the big library sale last year, but forgot I had done so, and then picked it up again at a used bookstore.) None of the libraries in town had it, even though it was a Hugo nominee not all that long ago.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I ca
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
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)
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Tim Martin
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
_Rainbows End_ by Vernor Vinge is an excellent science fiction novel by in my opinion one of the best novelists in the genre. This story is in the same setting as his earlier novella "Fast Times at Fairmont High" which he finished in August 2001 and first published in _The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge_. The central character of the novella, a young student at a San Diego high school (really a middle school), Juan Orozco, makes a reappearance in this novel, though as one of several important ...more

5% This is the best thing I've read this year, the style is dense but all of me is screaming: Yes! Talk about this!
10% Kind of a slow start, but we're establishing things . . . Getting the band together... right?
30% So. Nothing has actually happened at this point.
40% This is now a hate read. How many times, and in how many different ways do I really need to witness Robert Gu being a dick?
50% How many times do I have to go back to the library and listen to people talking about the same things ove
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Michelle Morrell
I was excited to read this, I picked it up off a free book table and couldn't pass up the blurb calling it a classic on par with Neuromancer or Snow Crash. And for near futurism, it's not bad. Calling out to AR instead of VR, on demand transport, wearable tech, it still feels relevant after 20 years.

(I do think swing and a miss on the treatment of paper books, whew, that future hurt.)

But I just couldn't finish. The writing was confusing at times, and there were skips in time that seemed less ar
Robert Kroese
Nov 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book deserves more than the 3 stars I gave it. It's well-written and we are hurtling toward the future it describes perhaps even faster than its author anticipates. Things I enjoyed: I particularly appreciated the ideas on how learning and knowledge paradigms are changing in the internet age and how this will affect schools and libraries.

For me, it was fairly hard science, and hence the three stars: it felt like it took forever to read and some passages were heavy on the computer stuff. It
Ami Iida
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
"The Rabbit" appears in the novel, is is A.I. (artificial intelligence) and then It has a huge power through internet.
During reading the book I know A.I. Rinna starts Twitter, it is popular with Line.
Line ; Rinna http://rinna.jp/rinna/
A.I. is more popular with general people. Real life cross over this science fiction.
Then It tool appears on it ,Google Glass topic appears in it. Google overcomes the novel.
otherwise Google Book Search ,Google Maps,
iRobot, and Google Now
Khira Allen
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I enjoyed this book because of the way it makes an intelligent and well-thought through projection of technological development in the future. There are so many different strands intertwining in this futuristic world: advanced medical technologies, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, to name a few.
My favourite part, however, will always be the depiction of augmented reality worlds based on Terry Pratchett's novels - what a fantastic idea!
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
The author manages a rich, imaginative, and fairly believable world of tech. It showed some good, interesting foresight about where VR and the IoT might be taking us. The setting could have supported a good story, but this wasn't it. Instead, the execution of the story and characters was consistently sub-par.

There was very little character development, and what there was left almost every character unlikable, if not pretty-much-evil. I found the story to be mostly a bunch of old, fading men tryi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Hugo & Nebula Awa...: Rainbow's end (spoilers ok) 23 16 Dec 23, 2020 12:57PM  
Hugo & Nebula Awa...: Rainbows End (no spoilers, please) 37 23 Dec 04, 2020 12:01PM  
Beyond Reality: Rainbows End—Roll Call and First Impressions *No Spoilers* 8 18 Nov 09, 2018 08:01AM  
Beyond Reality: Rainbows End—Finished Reading *Spoilers Ahead* 2 11 Nov 03, 2018 03:34PM  
Dawnrise: Wrap-up 7 12 Nov 29, 2014 02:05PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lazarus Men
  • Crossroads and the Himalayan Crystals (Crossroads, #1)
  • The Eden Paradox
  • The School for Scandal
  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • Grass (Arbai #1)
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1)
  • The Dreaming Void
  • Accelerando
  • Foreigner (Foreigner, #1)
  • Great North Road
  • Spin (Spin, #1)
  • The Fountains of Paradise
  • Have Space Suit—Will Travel
  • Revelation Space (Revelation Space, #1)
  • Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1)
  • Matching Configurations (Quantum Roots, #3)
  • CryoBurn (Vorkosigan Saga, #14)
See similar books…
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 hi ...more

Related Articles

Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we're always on alert for any shifts in readerly attention that we can spot. Recently we've noticed a...
172 likes · 19 comments
“So much technology, so little talent.” 39 likes
“While We are out of Touch or How to Survive and Prosper during the Next Thirty Minutes by Your Friend, the Mysterious Stranger” 1 likes
More quotes…