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epub pdf Rainbows EndAuthor Vernor Vinge – Blockdiagramwiring.co

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 US Military And Even Miri, In Her Attempts To Protect Her Grandfather, May Be Entangled In The Plot As Robert Becomes 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


10 thoughts on “Rainbows End

  1. says:

    Christmas 2010 I realised that I had got stuck in a rut I was re reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works Something had to be done.On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci Fi award That s 35 books, 6 of which I d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became a father As such these stories became imprinted on my memory as the soundtrack to the happiest period in my life so far Rainbows End won the Locus Sci Fi as well as the Hugo in 2007 I first heard about it on the Accelerating Future blog where Vinge is somewhat revered.When I started my Locus quest I made this my second port of call after Accelerando because it sounded like my cup of tea I think I would have enjoyed the book which came second that year Glasshouse .I wanted to like Rainbows End I really did try to like it I thought for the first half of the book that I might just actually end up liking it But I didn t What frustrates me most about Rainbows End is that I m not even certain why we didn t gel.The world building is top notch plausible and convincing, thoroughly detailed, interesting and original, memorable, etc all qualities I normally laud.I know it can t be just because the protagonist is a grating grouch I ll admit that I spent most my read hoping he d fall down an open manhole, but I ve enjoyed other books with even less likeable leads Donaldson Thomas Covenant .And it s not that the protagonist was old I m not ageist I love a good silver haired sleuth King Insomnia Could it be that the plot sort of fizzled and drifted into a faux thriller mystery with a bunny Maybe.Or that the supporting cast are utterly forgettable Perhaps.Was it because the story lacks anything close to a true emotional hook Could be.None of these factors on their own would be enough to put me off a book, but all of them together stopped me from enjoying the wonderful ideas that kicked this book off The only reason I can t outright 1 star the book is that I m not sure it s entirely Rainbows End s fault Have you ever had that feeling, when you take an instant dislike to somebody It s out of character and you re probably just having a bad day, but you can t shake your first impression that this guy is a thoroughbred douche And you feel bad for being so judgemental, so you end up being nicer to this douche than you probably should be Yeah This is like that.I think my favorite idea here and it s one that completely irrelevant to the plot is the notion of fiction inspired augmented reality overlays of real locations Minus the tech speak that means glasses which make all of London look like Ankh Morpork, or turn Windsor Castle into Hogwarts, etc So the grouchy old poet that was an image my mind could run with I ve since read The Snow Queen by Vernor s ex wife, Joan Vinge I didn t get along with that either Ah well my search for a good sci fi author beginning with V goes on now where did I put that Verne omnibus. After this I read Anathem


  2. says:

    A Review Wherein I Postulate The End of Humanity but first the boring stuff Ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas ideas Writing, characterization, plot, and dialogue Basically, the plot focus is all wrong It s incredibly domestic If plots were pokemon, this one would involve a Magikarp and a Gyrados and focus on the Magikarp.I mean dang, look at that BAMF.Basically, Robert Gu, an old poet with Alzheimer s, has his youth and mind restored by medical science Unfortunately, his poetical genius is lost somewhere in the restoration and his attempts to get it back embroil him a larger plot involving Mind Control and international intelligence Alas, this interesting plot tends to play second fiddle to the family drama Robert experiences with his son, daughter in law and, in particular, his granddaughter It s never compelling As a traditional story i.e a character arc the story isn t well developed Robert starts off as a very mean character and suddenly just sorta becomes not mean It all takes a backseat to the IDEAS.So you know what Failings explained 3 5 stars given Justice done Let s move on to the FUN STUFF The IDEAS Rainbows End represents our current society accelerated 20 30 years into the future, and I d wager a crisp tenner against a dozen homemade donuts that it s accurate than not For example, Vinge predicts that electronics will be woven into clothes and contact lenses The most techno savvy i.e primarily youngins control these Epiphany computers via gesture while older people must resort to the primitive keyboard Well, I actually once worked in an e textile lab and while our explorations were simplistic one of the grad students designed a pair of pants that analyzed your leg movements to guess what type of dance you were doing , e textiles are a natural evolution of mobile computing.Combine this with various virtual reality initiatives Facebook s Oculus Rift, Steam s HTC Vive, Sony s Playstation VR being the three frontrunners and the likes of google glass, and it s looking like the ubiquity of mobile electronics will continue unabated, not just in terms of adoption and usage but invasiveness, too Augmented reality overlays anyone I ll be pleased as plum pie when physical stop signs are replaced by windshield AR.But what does this all mean Well, a major theme of Rainbows End is how such technology must invariably lead to the death of privacy And aren t we there already Only the nuttiest of people believe there s anything close to privacy these days Edward Snowden heyyyy Sony, Target, Kickstarter getting hacked Ashley Madison Panama Papers Those annoying ads that you might well be looking at right now, showing you the last product you looked at on their website Or how about when the Ukrainian gov t used cell phone triangulation to text warnings to people who were within a certain radius of a demonstration riot I like to put myself in the mindset of people there Pocket vibrates Fella s thinking, Oh man, I bet it s that cute girl I ve been wanting to talk to Hahahaha NOPE It s a text from her BIG BROTHER.Rainbows End also explores what I call the acceleration of change When I jog, I sometimes listen to a podcast called Radical History In the episode on the dropping of the atomic bomb, the historian talked about how the rapid introduction of aircraft prevented military leaders from understanding how to properly use them When it came to men on horses and infantry, military tactics were well understood and war could be conducted in a relatively sane method But all of a sudden, you had this new technology Clearly it was powerful a real game changer But how did you utilize that power in the most effective and humane manner At first, the idea was tactical bombing You d target the actual soldiers But the precision wasn t there So a few strategists came up with a brilliant new idea strategic bombing You could utterly destroy a major enemy city The death and destruction would be SO GREAT that the civilians would lose all will to fight and would somehow force their government to surrender.The idea was we d have some dense, horrible destruction right at the beginning to spare us all from a much longer war It sorta made sense Obviously this didn t happen But at the time who was to know The same such conundrum is now true with regards to modern technology Cellphones, the internet, genetic manipulation, drones robots, etc We re making use of these, sure, but are we doing it the right away Is technology outpacing our ability to guide its usage I d guesstimate that the amount society changed from 2000 to 2015 is probably about the same it changed from 1970 to 2000 And that in turn was the same amount of change from, say, 1775 to 1850 Consider, for example, that the same weapons used in the American revolutionary war 1776 were essentially the same used in the American civil war 1865 One hundred years and many soldiers were still using front loaded muskets Can you even IMAGINE the weapons that will be used in a hundred years Meanwhile, the Romans wielded the steel gladius from 4th century BC to 3rd century AD A POINTED METAL STICK FOR SIX HUNDRED YEARS HOLY CRAP.So that s what I call the acceleration of change It s kinda like how the universe continues to expand at an ever increasing rate Well, as I wrote, I believe society and values are now changing so fast that governments and even individual people are unable to adapt More than at any other time in our history, there exists a gap between our technological power and our grasp of how to properly use it.For example, let s talk about education and how we test competence Most modern tests the bar examination, the FE exam, an AP Calculus exam involve a student working in isolation with nothing but a calculator, a pencil, and his brain Does this make sense any When a WEALTH of information and input from other analysts is now readily and easily available It s rare and perhaps entirely impossible to find a job which does not benefit from access to other experts I mean, hell, I recently dismantled, repaired, and then reassembled my CAR ENGINE purely by instruction via internet.So it would make sense to structure tests in such a way that online resources can be used What we really ought to be testing is not just FACTS IN BRAIN which are important but also a student s ability to research, elicit expert response, and synthesize online information.But could you imagine the response if I proposed allowing students to use their laptops during a test I know of teachers who STILL do not allow their students to cite online resources I still hear teachers genuinely state that Wikipedia is not a real source because it can be edited What is MOST amusing about that is how those teachers don t grasp how idiotic that statement is As if a book written and researched by a single author is superior to a crowd sourced document composed by a hundred scholars.So there s this huge bias against networked intelligence because society has changed so fast What was considered CHEATING only ten years ago is now basic reality, in the workplace, in social interaction, and so on And that s due to the Acceleration of Change.Vernor Vinge, in Rainbows End, takes an optimistic perspective on this, but his essays are bleak He believes in something called a Technology Singularity eventually we re going to create an AI that s smarter than we are That AI, in turn, will create an AI smarter than itself Repeat ad infinitum until ultra intelligent AIs render humanity obsolete shrug Not exactly a new idea But I like to think the Acceleration of Change can explain why it s necessary.And all that discussion is, ultimately, my review If contemplating the big ideas of the world is your schtick, then Rainbows End can serve as a wonderful springboard But if you re simply out for a good yarn and there s no shame in that Rainbow s End doesn t quite cut it.


  3. says:

    I ll start off with something positive to say about Rainbows End The best things about this novel are the ideas about technology and what the world could look like in an even networked future where information is the form of currency However, this isn t a new idea at all, here s a quote from Gravity s Rainbow regarding information, A tragic sigh Information What s wrong with dope and women Is it a wonder the world s gone insane, with information come to be the only real medium of exchange So, while there are these great ideas in the novel, they re not always the most original.Now, let s talk about the writing It was terrible The language was dull and workman like I m sure there are people who will say, but this is science fiction, what do you expect And to those people, I say that s no excuse A good novel should have good writing, it can be held together by concept alone If you buy into the whole genre fiction pulp fiction argument, that it s not supposed to be good writing, well that s unfortunate I m not asking for something amazing, but at least compel me to read your book At page 150 I started skimming, wanting to see how the novel ended At the end, there was no real pay off Who cares That s how I felt So what Part of the problem with the end of the novel comes from the beginning of the narrative The most interesting characters rarely show up There is an international crisis where some group of people might have access to powerful technology Three intelligence officers from major countries are combating this problem These three are the most interesting in the novel Then it digresses into cliche child characters who are overly bright and a poet cured of his Alzheimer s and in a young body trying to make sense of the world as they are duped into working for the intelligence officers Who cares about class projects So what about a man waking up in the future None of it is terribly interesting.My last complaint about the writing, is that if you have a character who is an award winning poet of national significance, your writing should at least be better than mediocre.I haven t read anything else by Vinge, I ve heard his other novels are really good My advice for this one is walk away.


  4. says:

    Nowadays, Grand Terror technology was so cheap that cults and small criminal gangs could acquire it Don t panic just yet, the above quote refers to nowadays in the narrative, not the actual nowadays, though I suppose that could also be a possibility Near future sf is not something I get to read often, it makes a change from the standard far future setting of most sf, no galaxy spanning human empire, usually no aliens, and never time travel The setting is mostly recognizable as an environment that has logically developed from today, the places, the people and some objects are still mostly the same According to Wikipedia Rainbows End is set in 2025 However, the year is not mentioned anywhere in the book so I will have to take it on faith That makes the setting on seven years from now, but the novel was published in 2006, so Vernor Vinge was writing about nineteen years in the future if 2025 really is the year of the setting.In this near future augmented reality AR is ubiquitous, as a technology that has advanced from today s internet and gaming technology Most people wear smart clothing and contact lenses that add a layer of digital reality to all aspects of life PCs, smartphones and anything with a screen are generally obsolete as people are constantly online and information can be accessed by gestures Rainbows End focuses on Professor Robert Gu, a world renown poet and former Alzheimer s sufferer who has been cured by a state of the art treatment Professor Gu has to adjust to the new world he suddenly finds himself in as he emerged from his Alzheimer s condition Now everything is online and basic unaugmented reality just does not cut it any This necessitates that he goes back to school to learn to adapt to the modern world, fortunately, the medical treatment has also de aged him to the extent that he looks like a teenager Elsewhere, a high level intelligence officer is plotting to implement a mind control technology on the populace The scheme requires manipulation of Professor Gu to help with a certain task The Machiavellian mind control plotline is the thriller aspect of the book but most of the book is taken up by the exploration of this future setting and how Professor Gu adapts to it Vernor Vinge clearly depicts how life would be with virtual overlays of reality always in place Yes, the overlays can be switched off but the default setting is always on and most people are content to leave it like that In some ways this a cautionary tale of what can happen if we are always blurring the line between reality and fantasy virtuality Much of the technology depicted in this book seems possible, some of them even probable, such as 3D video calls so advanced the caller seems to be with you in your room, the caller ID can also be hacked so that somebody could pose as your friends and relatives Vinge also puts a lot of effort into his characterizations but somehow none of them really strike a chord with me, I appreciate the effort though, it does give a little depth to the story underneath all the high tech.I like Rainbows End a lot, it gives what seems to be a convincing glimpse into the near future It does, however, suffer from some pacing issues and is not always compelling It is interesting than it is riveting Nevertheless, I recommend for anyone who is interested in how the near future is likely to turn out, and it did win a Hugo Award for Best Novel.Notes Vernor Vinge has a lot well, two things in common with David Brin An actual scientist, and follicly challenged His A Fire Upon the Deep is a classic epic space opera, the follow up A Deepness in the Sky is also uh quite good Quotes Many people were talking to themselves, sometimes gesturing into the empty air, or jabbing fingers at unseen antagonists Nothing new in that cellphone addicts had always been one of Robert s pet peeves But these folks were blatant about it than the kids at Fairmont High There was something foolish about a fellow walking along, suddenly stopping to tap at his belt, and then talking to the air In all innocence, the marvelous creativity of humankind continued to generate unintended consequences There were a dozen research trends that could ultimately put world killer weapons into the hands of anyone having a bad hair day Terror via technical surprise is the greatest threat to the survival of the human race


  5. says:

    Geschmackssache Eine Art Cyberpunk Thriller, der deutlich zu lang geworden ist Freunde des Genres werden aber sicher Freude an der Lekt re haben Genau Noch schlimmer, man br chte daf r Mut Und das ist das Problem mit den Leuten von heute Sie haben Freiheit gegen Sicherheit eingetauscht S 178


  6. says:

    Although I did not love this book as much as his Zones of Thought space operas, Vernor Vinge has yet to disappoint me Rainbows End is not really a cyberpunk novel, but post cyberpunk It takes place in a world that looks a lot like ours, if you just extrapolate out the technology Almost everyone is wired, you can carry petabytes in your pocket the sum total of all recorded human media on the equivalent of a USB drive , the world is globally connected in ways we still are dreaming about but have not yet achieved, and sensory overlays can turn the physical world into anything its owners or visitors wish to visualize.Vinge drops lots of recognizable brands and technology Google is still around So is the University of California at San Diego, where much of the action takes place.The threats now are not so much Great Powers lobbing nukes at each other though that s still a remote possibility but the fact that the potential for nuclear, chemical, biological, and network terrorism is now also greatly expanded.The main character is Robert Gu, who was a great poet at the end of the 20th century, but who has slipped into dementia Until new medical technologies are able to not just reverse his mental deterioration, but give him the body of a teenager as well There are a couple of catches The first is that, like most of his fellow rejuvenated senior citizens, he is hopelessly unskilled and inept in the modern world He has to go back to high school, in a novel integrated learning environment, to learn how to function and acquire basic skills.The other catch is that Robert s immense poetic genius was not restored along with his mind He can still understand poetry, but he can no longer write it This, to him, is almost worse than not being restored at all.Initially, it s really hard to get invested in Robert Gu s trials, because it also turns out that he was and is a mean bastard His genius for poetry was accompanied by a genius for hurting people and an inclination to lash out at any target of opportunity Early in the book, that s his thirteen year old granddaughter, Miri, who s been doing nothing but trying to help him, out of evidently misguided affection and loyalty At that point, Miri s parents both of whom have important military jobs that involve standing watch to prevent all those Very Bad Things from happening almost kick the SOB out of their house, and I was rooting for them to do so.Then a mysterious stranger shows up and claims he has access to advanced biotechnology that offers a cure for Robert s condition Robert, desperately, agrees to do one harmless little thing for the mysterious stranger.The plot involves many other characters, but Robert Gu and his granddaughter are the ones at ground zero There is a multinational conspiracy, an annoyingly capable rabbit, and a globally televised LARP battle between thinly disguised Discworld and Pokemon fans which causes a library to dance.This is true Big Idea science fiction, very futuristic and even optimistic, despite the emphasis on all the new ways that mankind can exterminate itself in a matter of hours Lots of characters get a turn in the spotlight, some are interesting than others, and Robert Gu never does become precisely likable, but he does do a bit of a heel face turn.Highly recommended for those who like their sci fi hard and wired.


  7. says:

    I loved Gibson s Neuromancer and I liked Stephenson s Snow Crash , and this is basically the same thing for the current generation except it leans a little towards the techno thriller side, like Michael Crichton if he were actually a good writer and knew about his subject than what he d just dug up via research Vinge is a mathematician and computer scientist, so his vision of 2025 rings a helluva lot true than many others The major drawbacks to this book are a lopsided plot the kind that starts off big and then the author seems to realize they ve bitten off than they can chew and broadly drawn characters though he earns back major points for the fact that only two of them are white, and none of the major characters are Those are literary complaints from a SF worldbuilding POV it s entirely satisfactory.Robert Gu, genius poet, wakes up from a decade of Alzheimer s to find himself restored to the peak of youth in a world gone completely digital This allows Vinge to explain a lot of things to us via Robert, but because the story is intercut with a number of POVs he also does my favorite kind of speculative writing, forcing the reader to understand everything in context The speculation is really rather brilliant Most people wear their computers are literally embedded in their clothing and their monitors are contact lenses This allows them to both compute through body movements instead of keyboards though a keyboard interface is available for older people and to view the world exactly as they wantor as various corporations and public entities want Cameras are everywhere, both for the benefit of the consumer and the government, and everything from forklifts to buildings depend on the link between physical reality and the wireless network to function The tech spec is perfect, but I m even fonder of the social ramifications Robert Gu gets stuck in vocational high school to catch up, but he s not the only retread older people who have simply slowed down have to do the same, even those who were brilliant and successful in their earlier career Children are the masters of technology, and the adults in the book rely on them Best of all, belief circles are fandom all growed up they fight for the right to theme public buildings, engage in massive scale RPG style interaction, and even create their own characters and storylines for fractions of pennies which are automatically sent to the copyright holders, be still my fair use loving heart The plot is, as noted, kind of a mess, and the book whimpers to a close, but getting there was fantastic This also feels like the kind of SF that s normative, not just predictive, and I d be curious to hear industry takes on some of the tech.


  8. says:

    I m a fan of Vinge s work, and I ve had to wrestle a little with the idea that my dislike for this book might just be the result of it being different from the other things he s done On balance, I don t think that this is the case This is a book with serious flaws in both credibility and storytelling On the credibility side, Vinge creates horrific inconsistencies in his visions of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and augmented human interaction which he doesn t even try to paper over Ultimately, we re left with a world where everybody behaves in outlandish and dangerous ways out of something like inertia, with technological threats that the author doesn t seem willing or able to explain The initial promise of YGBM almost immediately meanders into garden variety mind control The AI that s wandering around is such a cliche that half way through the book a bunch of characters have to have a conversation about why they re so sure that an AI can t exist by the end of the book there might be two AIs wandering around, but Vinge doesn t give any clarity.But that s not the worst part of the book In fact, stress on the technology and international espionage would have been welcome The vast majority of the book is given up to the dysfunctional family life of one Robert Gu, and how he goes back to high school as a ninety year old man who medical science has rejuvenated We hear about shop class, term projects, high school teachers but it s all just flashy nonsense wouldn t it be cool if without any development of the rationale behind the teaching method or the results on society of this weird and utterly implausible school system In fact, the society is a lot like the technology it doesn t make any sense on its own and Vinge can t be bothered to explain anything But that s still not the worst thing about this book The worst thing is how completely unsympathetic all of the characters are They veer wildly between pathetic and pretentious, Vinge can t seem to decide whether any given one of them is a earth shaking genius or a total idiot, so every character is both, with irritating and incomprehensible results The plot is mostly driven by mind bogglingly bad decisions, most of which are never recognized as possibly sub optimal by the characters as master spy with a super secret project that I m trying to hide from my compatriots who trust me implicitly, is putting together an investigation of the lab where the project is being developed, outsourcing all of the work to an unknown quantity and creating a ridiculously convoluted plot involving literally thousands of players really the best way to allay suspicion Actually, the actions of all the characters are a lot like the society and technology for the same reason cited above.In summary, there is no part of this book that makes a lick of sense There are no characters in this book that I care about I m honestly not sure whether there s any reason for the book to exist a lot of it reads like Vinge had a bunch of random notes about futuristic high schools and being a Terry Pratchett fanboy and decided to round it out with some unpleasant characters being snippy with each other.


  9. says:

    The one where a Rip van Winkle figure is cured of Alzheimer s and has to figure out how to live in the future, and apparently gets involved in some sort of plot involving mind control technology.I gave it fifty pages, and every single one was an effort This book has tons of ideas, large and small As a portrait of the niftiness and danger of the future, I suppose it s reasonably good, though it s rather slow and didactic compared with the pleasant breathless hurtle of cyberpunk my usual dangerous nifty future source As fiction, it doesn t work for me because the characterization is so perfunctory The dialog is stilted and implausible, and all the voices sound the same And there s a weird disconnect from the emotions, which are described and analyzed from a distance Maybe I would have warmed to Gu if I d given him time, but it s hard to know how to get involved with a character who thinks things like, It was hard to dominate someone if you didn t understand most of what she said surely even people who want to dominate other people don t think that s what they re doing Locus poll 1 SF novel of year.


  10. says:

    I really love A Fire Upon the Deep, and I feel like I keep waiting for Vinge to recreate that, in some form and it keeps not happening.I felt like Rainbows End aimed at being a near future cyber thriller a la William Gibson but the thrilling part was missing.There s a conspiracy to infect the world with some sort of suggestion susceptibility, which its proponents see as the only way to save the world There s another group of NSA types trying to stop the plan, but they don t really know what the plan is There may be some overlap between the two sides Meanwhile, there s a program in place to send rejuvenated old folks to high school to learn new skills which are supposed to help them re integrate as productive members of society.And there s a big plan to destructively digitize the libraries of the worldThere are a lot of interesting ideas in the book, but so many aspects of it are just too vague I think I would ve enjoyed it if it were tightened up if the reader was given a few clues as to the goals of each character and what they re working toward It s very amorphous We have to stop someone from doing something The reader doesn t know enough about what the ramifications might be to take a stance either way or care.For a bit I was leaning toward two stars, but it s scraping in at three because there are actually lots of fascinating, thoughtful bits in here on a multitude of topics, especially regarding rapidly changing societies, the intersection and conjunction of personality and technology, interpersonal communication and understanding, the nature of talent and genius, etcBut it still feels oddly out of balance plodding at times, and unsure of whether it wants to be humorous and tongue in cheek, or serious drama.