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Rainbows End Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 2, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
A good book, but if you are interested in Vernor Vinge and have not read his stuff, I would steer you toward A Fire Upon The Deep, A Deepness In the Sky, The Peace War, and Marooned in Realtime before you pick up this one.
I've never liked cyberpunk William Gibsonesque sci fi, so the jacket description of Rainbow's End didn't sound promising. But come on, I thought, this is Vernor Effin' Vinge! A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep are my all-time favorite sci fi novels: rich, complex, with lots of action and endearing, fully-realized alien cultures. Surely Vinge could find gold in the cyberhills.
Now I'm 200 pages into the book, and I've given up. Try as I might, I can't force myself to care - about the unlikable characters, their indecipherable actions, or the unpleasant world they inhabit. The last 50 pages has dealt with the main (?) character learning to use his virtual reality computer interface web browser contact lenses. Yep, it's that exciting. Around him, mysterious virtual entities do mysterious virtual things. What are they doing? Why are they doing it? Who cares? There are interesting ideas, but the world and the characters are dull and off-putting.
Of the hundreds of sci-fi novels I've read, only three have provoked such apathy that I could not bring myself to finish them. That one of them was written by my hero, Vernor Vinge, is a deep disappointment.
The setting of the novel (and the short story for that matter) is San Diego in the year 2025, which the reader discovers is a world in which the internet connects people and places in ways not possible today. Miniaturization has advanced to such a degree that most people, all the time, have operating computers on them, embedded and weaved into otherwise normally looking clothing called wearables (if someone has on clothing with a computer in it with the capacity to go online he or she is said to be "wearing") and are able to interact with these computers and the internet via special contact lenses. When people first start mastering wearables and their associated contacts they often have to type in the air with their fingers on a phantom keyboard, made visible to the user thanks to their contacts, but as a user becomes more proficient they become able to access computer resources by much more subtle gestures, including particular facial and eye movements.Read more ›
Vinge, of course, is very well known for his notion of the "Technological Singularity": the hypothesis that soon technological change will be so overwhelming that we can't even imagine what will come next. _Rainbow's End_ is a brave attempt to look twenty years closer towards that cliff. It makes interesting speculation.
It's only partially successful as a tale, though, because:
1) The changes Vinge posits in society and technology are quite extensive, and he has to spend a good deal of time explaining them. He does it well, and his ideas are interesting and plausible, but it's still something of an essay instead of a narrative. The characterization, in particular, is a bit hit-or-miss.
2) I wonder whether Vinge overstates his case for the upcoming "Singularity." (The assumption that change is inevitably, monotonically accelerating is certainly arguable. Have things changed more in, say, the 80 years since 1926 than in the 80 years before that date?) I'm not sure that the Singularity *won't* happen, but I'm not sure that it *will* either. I think I'd have enjoyed the book a little more if I were.
3) Certain details of the story--e.g., the exact nature of Rabbit and of the "YGBM" McGuffin--are treated rather sketchily. Some readers will be annoyed by this; others won't care.
Still, this is a very good book. It's a likely Hugo nominee.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The near-future hyper-connected cyberpunk and consumerist world is vividly painted. The plot is compelling. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Justin
It was a very cool book with some far out (but probably realistic) predictions about how the future may look. Read morePublished 2 months ago by kdoggg
Rainbow's end is Vinge's near future masterpiece of world building. No other author has though as hard or as long about the problem of writing technically realistic novels of the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. J. Douma
Vernor Vinge is a retired mathematics professor who became famous through his science-fiction novels. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Daniel Lemire
This book is wonderful, the love and the story among the characters are superb. I love Irene Hannon's work!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
What will being wired look like in the not too distant future? Read this book and you'll know. Okay, maybe know is too strong. But it has a feel of being right throughout. Read morePublished 7 months ago by DaveTheGuy
Some intriguing ideas here about wearable technology but the plot was a bit difficult to follow at times. Also a few loose ends that were never resolved. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michelle
Really enjoyed the story and perception of the author. Leads a lot of interesting concepts with parallels to current society. Very well donePublished 8 months ago by Shane Mecham
As always, a consistently thought-provoking yarn with non-stop action.Published 8 months ago by Lee