Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Rainbows End paperback Rainbows End (2006)
2007 Hugo Award Winner

Tor paperback - 381 pages (left)
cover art by Stephan Martiniere

Tor Books hardcover (right)
Rainbows End hardcover

From back cover of the paperback:
       World-famous poet Robert Gu missed twenty years of progress while he nearly died from Alzheimer's.  Now, when he awakens in San Diego, in the year 2025, with his mind and health restored, reality's a shock.  Books are just about gone. Computers are old news, replaced by "smart" contact lenses that connect him to the Internet via his clothes and wireless nodes just about everywhere.  Buildings look low-rent unless you're wearing.  Then, they look like whatever you want.  Even he is different.  He's seventy-five, but his treatment has made him look almost like a teen.  And that's the tip of the iceberg in the new Digital Age.
       As Gu tries to catch up with his future, a mysterious stranger draws him and other innocents into a conspiracy that could have disastrous consequences.  Before he knows it, he's in so deep that even his high-ranking military son and daughter-in-law are clueless.  His only hope -- the world's only hope -- is that his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri and her secret friend, Mr. Rabbit, might be able to keep the worst from happening....

From the front and back flaps of the hardcover:
       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 retrain 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 the 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 retrainees feel compelled to join protests against the change....

Read for group discussion on June 27, 2007
How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy - stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 8 Barb -
Aaron - Cynthia 7
Jackie - Ron 6
Christine - Stephanie -
Patty -

Our book group has also read the following books by Vernor Vinge:
-- A Fire Upon the Deep  in August 1996
-- A Deepness in the Sky  in April 2000

Vernor Vinge (1944-     ) is a US science fiction writer, computer scientist, and retired professor of mathematics.

1987 Prometheus Best Novel Award for Marooned in Realtime
1993 Hugo Award for novel A Fire Upon the Deep
2000 Hugo Award for novel A Deepness in the Sky
2000 Prometheus Best Novel Award for A Deepness in the Sky
2002 Hugo Award for novella "Fast Times at Fairmont High"
2004 Hugo Award for novella "The Cookie Monster"
2007 Hugo Award for novel Rainbows End

Realtime sequence books:
--The Peace War (1984)
--Marooned in Realtime (1986)
--Across Realtime (omnibus, 1986), includes The Peace War and Marooned in Realtime

Zones of Thought books:
--A Fire Upon the Deep (1992)
--A Deepness in the Sky (1999), a prequel to A Fire Upon the Deep

Other novels:
--Grimm's World (1969, also titled Tatja Grimm's World (1987))
--The Witling (1976)
--Rainbows End (2006), set in same universe as "Fast Times at Fairmont High"

Short story collections:
--True Names and Other Dangers (1987)
--Threats...and Other Promises (1988)
--The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge (2001)
--True Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier (2001, edited by James Frenkel) contains Vinge's novella "True Names" and information about developments on the Internet.

Other Stuff:
--Vernor Vinge: What Happens If the Singularity Does Not Happen? (2007) - a seminar on DVD

Our book club's page for A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge - Wikipedia
Rainbows End - Wikipedia
Salon Technology | Vernor Vinge, online prophet
Rainbows End | Book Reviews | SCI FI Weekly
SF REVIEWS.NET: Rainbows End / Vernor Vinge

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This page was last updated October 20, 2008