Rainbows End


Vernor Vinge's teenage bildungsroman is this year's Hugo winner for best science fiction novel of the year. I have to admit that I haven't kept up with science fiction the way I used to do; however, I did find this an enjoyable read.

Vinge builds a very believable near-future world in which computers dominate the landscape. There are "wearables" which respond to gestures and overlay mundane reality with "all the colors of the wind." Vinge makes these devices very likely, very believable, very complex, and best of all very comprehensible. Unlike Gibson and his ilk, who rely upon sheer confusion for much of their effect, Vinge is committed to making his world real.

In this world cures have been found for most common ailments, including many types of dementia. Our hero has been returned from near-death to the appearance of a seventeen year-old boy. And with his return to health, also his return to an absolute tyrrany of emotional abuse. His son puts a stopper in it and Robert Gu, our hero, gradually adjusts and joins an international Cabal designed to preserve the integrity of libraries. However, this plot is simply a cover for another deeper plot that may or may not involve artificial intelligences, international conspirators, and a plot to subjugate the world's people by a clever juxtaposition of (literally) viral memes.

Characterization is fine, although we never get a sense of Gu as both old and young. His perspective is always one of being older. There is no resolution to one of the central emotional points in the book, and several hints and asides are left completely unresolved.

Overall, an interesting fun read for those who like their science fiction Cyber.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 21, 2007 7:26 AM.

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