Friday, June 13, 2008

Rainbow's End-- Vernor Vinge-- Thoughts

Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge is the story of Robert Gu who has been cured of Alzheimer's and rejuvenated so he looks like a teenager. Robert Gu has to learn to fit in again in a society that has changed tremendously. He is sent to a technical school to learn a new set of skills and be useful again. This is a mix of teenagers and rehabilitated adults.

I rather like the main character, he is a kind of man out of time. His son doesn't know quite what to make of him. The main character is cranky, mean, and does not hesitate to hurt or bother other people if it amuses him.

While at the technical school Robert is drawn into a sinister plot unwittingly. This starts as he joins up with a group of librarians at UCSD who recognize his literary genius from his past life. The librarians are trying to save all the books at the Theodore Geisel library from the shredding and processing machines.

The descriptions of everyday things are wonderful. People use wearable computers and contact lenses which simulate different environments adding overlays to the real world like the SpielbergRowling fantasy overlay. Cars pick you up and drive you where you want to go, then drive off by themselves. It is rather imaginative.

The librarians have a plan to destroy the shredders. This involves creating a disturbance aboveground while they slip past a set of secret biolabs to get at the shredders. This is where the second strand of the story picks up. Getting past the biolabs is really a setup for a crazed agent to plant a research project for mind controlling virus.

Only Mr. Rabbit, an intelligent AI can stop the virus with the help of Robert Gu and his niece Miri.

Aboveground a riot is occurring between the librareome and the people who are against the library. The two sides are trying to take over the library building using robots, construction equipment, toy mechanicals, and various gadgets.

This is a wildly entertaining book with a very convoluted plot which can be mind boggling at times. Sometimes you feel like you are in a state of futureshock like Robert Gu. This book is one of a string of near future thrillers that have come out recently that use familiar backdrops with advanced technology. Two other books in this style are Spook Country by William Gibson and Halting State by Charles Stross.

Rainbow's End won the 2007 Hugo Award. vernor Vinge has won four other Hugo awards. Another book by him which I really liked was A Fire Upon The Deep. This book is hard science fiction. It extrapolates existing science into a future world.

1 comment:

Jenaisle said...

Good review, makes me like to read the book. Thanks for sharing.