Rainbows End: A Novel with One Foot in the Future

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Tom Doherty Associates, Apr 3, 2007 - Fiction - 368 pages
40 Reviews

Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.

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 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, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. 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—through nodes designed into smart clothes—and to see the digital context—through smart contact lenses.

With knowledge comes risk. When Robert begins to re-train at Fairmont High, learning with other older people what is second nature to Miri and other teens at school, he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination.

In a world where every computer chip has Homeland Security built-in, 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.

As Robert becomes more deeply involved in conspiracy, he is shocked to learn of a radical change planned for the UCSD Geisel Library; all the books there, and worldwide, would cease to physically exist. He and his fellow re-trainees feel compelled to join protests against the change. With forces around the world converging on San Diego, both the conspiracy and the protest climax in a spectacular moment as unique and satisfying as it is unexpected. This is science fiction at its very best, by a master storyteller at his peak.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - scottcholstad - LibraryThing

I admittedly haven't read much Vernor Vinge, but I know some of his books have won several Hugo Awards, including this one. But whenever I read him, I just don't enjoy his books. Admittedly, Vinge is ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DLMorrese - LibraryThing

The odd future described by this book is both depressing and hopeful. It is a world in which humans regularly retreat into virtual reality, often corresponding to their chosen ‘belief circles,’ as an ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Dumb Luck and Smart Thinking
Mr Rabbit Visits Barcelona
The Return
A Minefield Made in Heaven
An Excellent Affiliance
Dr Xiangs
So Much Technology So Little Talent
The Ezra Pound Incident
When Metaphors Are Real
The Front Bathroom Incident
Alfred Volunteers
The Myasthenic Spelunker Society
Failure Is an Option
The Officer of the Watch
When Belief Circles Collide
The Bicycle Attack

No UserServiceable Parts Within
Carrot Greens
An Excellent Thesis Topic
Introduction to the Librareome Project
Guardians of the Past Handmaidens of the Future
The Miri Gang Is Born
The Mysterious Stranger
In the Cathedral
The Library Chooses
You Cant Ask Alice Anymore
HowtoSurvivetheNextThirtyMinutes
The Revocation Attack
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Vernor Vinge, author of such acclaimed novels as True Names, The Peace War, Marooned in Realtime, A Fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky, has won four Hugo Awards. A mathematician and computer scientist, he lives in San Diego, California.

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