Monday, June 12, 2006

Rainbows End

Vernor Vinge

Book Cover

The year is 2025 when Robert Gu, suffering from Alzheimer's for years, receives a groundbreaking treatment and is fully cured. Now free of dementia, the internationally renowned 75-year old poet suddenly has a new outlook on life. He's attending a vocational school and trying hard to understand the brave new world around him. But his education leads him to the dark side of technology, into a world of bioterrorism, mind control, super-advanced spyware...and omniscient talking rabbits.

Too real! The issues covered from DHS, to bio engineering, to Safe Hardware Computing, to the mix of collaborative open source versus tightly restrained copyrights.... whew! Vinge takes them all in stride and creates a fast paced story with remarkable speculations. Excellent!

One comment - on all the fronts Vinge considers, the one oddly absent is "religion." He does have ersatz religions in "belief circles" which mainly appear to be focussed on various fictional worlds, like that of Terry Pratchett. I'm the first to accept the idea of what I call the "Talmud effect" in growth of literature around various genres - Tolkein's, Pratchett's, Star Wars, Star Trek and more... yet... It seems odd to me that conventional religion of any organized (or dis-organized) is absent from a world 20+ years in the future. I guess it could be 1) something he wasn't comfortable dealing with, or 2) a way to avoid offending anyone, but still - it undermines the veracity of the story.