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Rainbows End Paperback – Unabridged, 17 Aug 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; 1 edition (17 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330451944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330451949
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 2.6 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Rainbows End raises frequent smiles through the sheer ingenuity of ideas and technologies, and fully deserve its Hugo shortlisting.'
-- SFX

Book Description

Robert Gu is a world-renowned poet and recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a new cure, he discovers that the world has changed. He is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he’s starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts. Living with his son’s family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access and to see the digital context—through smart contact lenses. With knowledge comes risk. When Robert begins to re-train at Fairmont High he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination. This conspiracy is something that baffles even the most sophisticated security analysts, including Robert’s son and daughter-in law, two top people in the U.S. military. And even Miri, in her attempts to protect her grandfather, may be entangled in the plot . . . ‘In the grand tradition of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge just turned the future upside-down in Rainbow's End’ Charles Stross

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike Prendergast on 7 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been a big fan of Vinge for a long time, but more so after "a fire upon the deep". His last two were big space opera plots with a dash of new technology thrown in, more on the ian m banks thread. This novel goes in a very different direction and moves very strongly into the thriller rather the science fiction territory. The trends explored here, fully immersive technology, difficulty of multi generational family relationships, knowing just who your allies are in a much more connected world and the challenge of sudden technology step change, made this some what jerky in places.
However I found on rereading , a few months later the book grew on me and the multi layer, multi threaded story started to become more coherent.
Vinge's background, as a professor of computing science shines through in places, particularly in his assumption of audience understanding of technology challenges.
Finally there is a real juicy hook here in the presence of a complex "AI" character just crying out for a sequel. What are you "rabbit?"
I'd say "persevere with this book" it rewards persistence
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Craig on 18 Nov 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't disappointed in this at all. I thought it was great. I just wish he was a bit more prolific although I'd rather have quality, like this, than quantity. It's an extrapolation of "Fast Times At Fairmont High" from
his collected stories and "Synthetic Serendipity" , which are both great short stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FlameBoy on 15 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much as I have loved Vinge's epics of the past, covering vast swathes of time and/or space, I still enjoyed Rainbows End, a novel set in a credible near future that feels like it might be just around the corner.

Vinge builds his world on current concepts, developing them far enough to be interesting, yet remain credible. This sets a grounded stage upon which he tells a story that's really about how there's always a gap between how different generations relate to the technology of the time.

The only thing that annoyed me about the novel is that two of the main characters, a father and son, were called Bob and Robert. It took a while for me to get used to which one was which, but maybe that's just me.

Worth a read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert on 21 Oct 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big Vernor Vinge fan - I loved both A fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky. I also read and re-read his Realtime stories. Rainbows End starts pretty smartly. The plots involving international government security agencies, a protagonist who has been cured of senile dementia and other characters around him, get going and explained nicely. The early scene setting in the high school classroom, where our ex-Alzheimer's sufferer is back at school to learn about the future world is really neat. The picture of society of the future is concisely explained and enjoyable.

Then I started getting lost and never recovered. Lots of future in-terms appeared. It was obviously up to the reader to understand them by context, but I couldn't. What's a Haptic? There were plots involving virtual overlays of the real world - eg a Pratchetesque library. Multi player roll games also overlaid and somehow competing for credibility which gave them power. It was just too tangled. characters had some sort of avatar which they could use as telepresence - but it can be hijacked...why not just turn of your PC. Ah...PCs. Well they don't exist, but have instead metamorphosed into clothes and contact lenses. Another thing to get confused about.

Hmm... I loved the first third of this book, but by the end I really could not be bothered trying to pick apart the threads. I bought this hardback on the strength of his previous work, but I did not feel I got value for money.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 30 Nov 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I'm a member of the `geek' family - my daily job involves working with computers, both at the programming and the hardware design level. As such, this book should have been great, but I found I was disappointed in it for some rather strange reasons.

First is the world Vinge envisions, where almost everyone is plugged into the net on a constant basis via wearable computers with contact lenses for output display, and the world at large has so many contact points and monitors that you can be almost anywhere and still be totally immersed in virtual reality. My problem with this is that it doesn't go far enough! Computers small enough to weave into your clothes are an almost reality now, along with displays that can be part of normal glasses. So there is no great leap here - and in fact, the interface to the computer, how the person can give it commands, I found to be quite clunky, depending on virtual keyboards or interpretations of various body gestures (which apparently involve a fairly steep learning curve on the user's part to get right). Why not computers embedded in the body, with direct connection to the neural system, or at least allow for voice commands?

Second is the envisioned response to the dangers of having everything wired to the net and the influence generated data can have on people. I found it difficult to believe that in the time span given, a short twenty years from now, that the U.S. would have put in place a military force with the authority to not only monitor all net traffic and dragoon intelligence analysts from any organization at any time it was felt they were needed, but to take action on a moments notice, without recourse to any high civilian authority, up to and including a nuclear strike against any data source seen to be inimical.
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