Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainbows End

Chocked-full of interesting ideas. Fast-paced. Intriguing. Feel-good. Rainbows End, the 2007 Hugo award winner by Vernor Vinge, is a techno-fiction novel that takes place in the near future.

Two worlds collide. The first belongs to Alfred Vaz, who has developed some new YGBM (You-Gotta-Believe-Me) technology, mind control he plans to unleash worldwide. “Then he would be in control. For the first time in history, the world would be under adult supervision.”

The second world belongs to Robert Gu, a once acerbic, world renown poet, who almost succumbed to end-stage Alzheimer’s disease, but with the help of some new medical breakthroughs has been restored to the capacity of a young adult. Many of his other illnesses have also been reversed. Robert, with the help of his not always so loving family and some friends, tries to maneuver the new, technologically enhanced, world that he finds himself in. Not entirely known to Robert, his chief ally is Miri, his teenage granddaughter. Most of the world is “wearing:” they have hoptics, a type of contact, and wearables, clothing with technology embedded, that allow them to see overlays of information on top of the physical world and communicate with each other without using voice or keyboard. Robert and a band of his old group of friends from the university unknowingly become cast as stooges in Vaz’s plot.

The novel is so filled with ideas that I find it difficult to isolate just a couple for discussion. The novel made me think about technology, about people, and about my own future. For me, this is the mark of a good novel.

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