Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book reivew: Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge

Vernor Vinge is one of my favorite Science Fiction authors. He popularized the term singularity. My only complaint is he is not very prolific. I wish he would write more. If you'd like to know more about Vernor Vinge, check out this interview or this interview.

Rainbow's End is set in 2025, down in San Diego where Vernor lives. The story revolves around an elderly man who goes back to high school to learn how to use the advance technology. Robert Gu had been a famous poet. He had Alzheimers, which gets cured. He has missed all the changes in technology. We are introduced to much of the technology through Robert's experience.

The plot rotates around secret spy stuff. A company has contracted with the university to copy all of the books in the library up into the internet. The process will destroy the books. Several people are opposed to this. Robert gets caught up in the intrigue.

Vernor extrapolates current trends in technology and paints a world rich with possibilities. It will be interesting to see in 2025 how close his predictions came to reality.

If you enjoy Science Fiction, give Rainbow's End a read. I think you'll enjoy it.

Technorati tags: Rainbow End, Vernor Vinge


Michelle said...

Thanks for the review, we're always looking for new books to read! This book sounds a little bit like Fahrenheit 451, which is one of my favorites.

I have always been interested in the science fiction genre, especially when it challenges our assumptions about society.

I have been concerned lately, though, with how to approach the genre with my young kids (when they are the appropriate age). I saw several friends in school led into humanism and "technology worship" through science fiction books. Has this ever become a concern for you, and if so, how did you address it?


Henry Cate said...

A couple thoughts:

1) I think you have to be more careful about books written after 1970 or 1980.

2) Have your children read a balance of books. By exposing them to Science Fiction, Fantasy, Westerns, and so on, they'll have a much richer understanding of our society and culture.

Larry K said...

I agree that Rainbow's End is an interesting, if somewhat complicated / tech heavy, book to read. Regarding the concern about SF in general, I grappled alot with this as a big SF fan who later became a believer. Like any genre SF has its share of trash (poor writing and/or full of sex or violence) and certainly can have a very atheistic point of view at times. On the other hand some SF is excellent and gives interesting insights into what people are really like and how they would react to various futuristic settings and events. I am slowly getting my 14 year old daughter to read more SF. Some authors to consider are Timothy Zahn (himself a believer) especially his Dragonback YA book series, Robert Heinlein (only his 1950's YA books which are really excellent, his later books are a bit trashy) and especially Zenna Henderson's "People" stories (collected in the book "The Ingathering") which have some neat Christian themes. Hope this helps.

Henry Cate said...

Larry, thanks for the response. I greatly liked one of Timothy Zahn's short stories, "Pawn's Gambit." I never got started with the Star Wars books, but enjoyed most everything else I've read of Zahn's stories.

I agree on Heinlein. I think anything up and including to "Starship Troopers" is fine. Afterwards there are few books worth reading, and I just gave up after awhile.

Henna Henderson is one of my favorites.