After Halting State, I decided I really wanted to read this and see if it held up as well against the newest entry in the genre.
The gist of the book is one Robert Gu, almost gone from Alzheimer's comes back - and due to the 'heavenly landmine' is largely rejuvenated. On the downside, he's lost his poetic gift and he has to go back to high school. From there, in his attempts to regain his gift, he gets caught up in a far ranging conspiracy with nasty potential consequences.
Overall, it's not bad. Not as great as when I read it the first time. In fact, you could almost see Halting State occurring in the recent past of Rainbows End. Still, there are neat bits like the changes to medical care and research, the librareome project and belief circles (though I think I favor Halting State's take on it - profit driven). I also liked the idea of the network superiority version of warfare that raises its head in the end of the book.
The viewpoint character of Robert Gu is a good point of view for us from the 20th and early 21st centuries, but I don't find his continuing down the path he did, with the motivations he had (as he realizes the changes in himself) to fit very well.
Anyway, not a bad read.
wow. WOW. What a phenomenal book. This story was so far out, yet believably set just 20-30 years in the future. Not once was I brought up short thinking "nah, that couldn't happen." I was completely sucked in, and I'm left with an ache trying to decide whether I want it to happen, or whether I should work to stop it from happening!
A near-future story with the neat insights and nice plot twists.
Robert Gu is a famous poet who is recovering from Alzheimer's disease but that is just one of the new medical improvements that he experiences. His eyesight is restored, his body becomes youthful so he can walk and move about again but he's having trouble writing his poetry. At the same time, a technological conspiracy may soon dominate the world.
While Robert lost his poetry skills, he has analytical skills that help him learn new technology - body computing wearables, using virtual networks, and living in a world with virtual books. As his health improves, his attitude does, too. A virtual contact assures him that he can get his poetry skills back if he helps him with a project.
Robert bought into the promise that he could regain his poetry writing skills to become part of an elder group performing an act of sabotage in the hopes of saving real books in the library. They are under the illusion that they can help save the books. However, the library has shredded most of the books turning to electronic versions only. For Robert, this is a tragedy. He still lives with his son, Bob, his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Miri.
Vinge does an awesome job writing science fiction but his characters seem robotic to me. I found this read about living in a world controlled by electronic means interesting. However, it's not a fascinating read unless this aspect of the future is of great interest to the reader.
A really fun near-future cyberpunk novel with believable characters and an interesting plot. Filled with detail, the novel shows where we could be headed. Why is the apostrophe missing? Who is the rabbit? Even though the ending was a bit weak this book is highly recommended.