Vernor Vinge – Rainbows End

I took two attempts to get through Rainbows End, and it took me a while after finishing it to figure out why I didn’t like it: it doesn’t deliver on its promises. In the prologue, European intelligence services have detected someone experimenting with a highly advanced and incredibly subtle form of mass mind-control. The opening chapter follows this up with a meeting between other intelligence agencies as they decide what action to take, and reveals some of the secrets behind the threat.

It’s a great teaser opening…to a different book.

The rest of Rainbows End is a moderately interesting treatise on the future of education, learning, and knowledge management, fronted by an unlikeable protagonist, and ending with a fist-shaking “I would have got away with it if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids” moment. The unlikeable protagonist mellows, and everyone learns a valuable lesson about love and understanding.

Not Vinge’s finest hour.

2 thoughts on “Vernor Vinge – Rainbows End

  1. Russell W

    Well said! I had a similar gripe about Rainbows End, i.e. unlikeable protagonist. And until I read your review, I’d forgotten completely about the beginning of the book–what a wild goose chase. And I don’t know if you’ve ever visited the UCSD library, but the idea of it walking around–even after serious earthquake proofing procedures, was just silly. Sometimes I think he wrote the whole book just so he could depict that (since he taught there).

    One thing I did like though: the mobile internet nodes. That’s an unusual idea.

  2. Felix H. Cat

    Very disappointing.

    It reads to me as “What the world would be like if real life was like ‘Second Life’. Chaotic technology gets in the way of the characters, which is not at all unfortunate since the characters aren’t anything worth reading about.

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