Rainbows End

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Rainbows End
First edition cover
First edition cover
AuthorVernor Vinge
Cover artistStephan Martinière
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreScience fiction novel
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
16 May 2006
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages368 pp. (first edition, hardback)
ISBNISBN 0-312-85684-9 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC67711627
813/.54 22
LC ClassPS3572.I534 R35 2006
 
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Not to be confused with Rainbow's End.
Rainbows End
First edition cover
First edition cover
AuthorVernor Vinge
Cover artistStephan Martinière
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreScience fiction novel
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
16 May 2006
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages368 pp. (first edition, hardback)
ISBNISBN 0-312-85684-9 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC67711627
813/.54 22
LC ClassPS3572.I534 R35 2006

Rainbows End is a 2006 science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge. It was awarded the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[1] The book is set in San Diego, California, in 2025, in a variation of the fictional world Vinge explored in his 2002 Hugo-winning novella "Fast Times at Fairmont High" and 2004's "Synthetic Serendipity". Vinge has tentative plans for a sequel,[2] picking up some of the loose threads left at the end of the novel. The many technological advances depicted in the novel suggest that the world is undergoing ever-increasing change, perhaps destined for a technological singularity, a recurring subject in Vinge's fiction and nonfiction writing.

Plot summary[edit]

Thanks to advances in medical technology, Robert Gu is slowly recovering from Alzheimer's disease. As his faculties return, Robert (who always has been technophobic) must adapt to a different world, where almost every object is networked and mediated-reality technology is commonplace. Robert, formerly a world-renowned poet but with a notoriously mean-spirited personality, must also learn how to change and how to rebuild relationships with his estranged family. At the same time, Robert and his granddaughter Miri are drawn into a complex plot involving a traitorous intelligence officer, an intellect of frightening (and possibly superhuman) competence hiding behind an avatar of an anthropomorphic rabbit, and ominous new mind control technology with profound implications.

Augmented reality[edit]

In the novel, augmented reality is dominant, with humans interacting with virtual overlays of reality almost all of the time. This is accomplished by wearing smart clothing providing gesture recognition and contact lenses that can overlay and replace what the eye would normally see with computer graphics, using advanced virtual retinal display (VRD) technology. In addition, haptic feedback is possible by overlaying graphics onto a physical machine such as a robot. This augmentation of reality is used for a variety of purposes:

There are characters who choose not to "wear" these virtual overlays, instead using laptops, considered relics in the novel. A user's skill in managing and producing augmented reality manifests itself in the details of the augmentation. For example, a character might project himself into a different room, but the shadows cast by this apparition, or the collision between the character and the furniture in the room might give away the apparition.

Belief circles[edit]

There are many realities to choose from in the novel; however, the largest and more robust of them are built by large user bases in the manner of a wiki or Second Life. The confederation of users that contribute to the virtual world is called a belief circle. Several belief circles are presented in the novel, including worlds based on authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, Terry Pratchett, and the fictional Jerzy Hacek. Also mentioned are worlds based on the artwork of M. C. Escher, and fictional entertainment companies such as SpielbergRowling (presumably a manager of the merged fictional universes of Steven Spielberg and J. K. Rowling). The Egan Soccer set piece can also be seen as a type of subscribed Belief Circle.

Themes[edit]

As in Vinge's other work, the concept of security in such an increasingly digital/virtual world with ubiquitous computing is a major theme of the novel. It examines the implications of rapid technological change that empowers both the disgruntled individuals who would threaten to disrupt society and those that would seek to stop them, and the implications for the age-old "who watches the watchers" issue at the interplay between surveillance (oversight) and sousveillance (undersight). Although 9/11 is only mentioned once, having been supplanted in the minds of the characters by more recent history, its overall impact is unmistakable; Bob Gu muses offhandedly, "Chicago was more than a decade past. There hadn't been a successful nuclear attack on the U.S. or any of the treaty organization countries in more than five years."

Characters in Rainbows End[edit]

Reception[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "2007 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  2. ^ Long Now Foundation. "What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen". Rainbow's End. 1:26:25: Fora TV. Retrieved 21 January 2012. 

External links[edit]