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.