four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
23-July-Aug-2006
By: 
Vernor Vinge
user_rating: 
0

A Novel With One Foot in the Future

A-RainbowsEndIn a fully-wired future where humans are in constant contact via contact-lens computer monitors, wearable computers, and truly spontaneous instant messaging, policing for possible terrorist threats is a pain. Bob Gu, who works at Homeland Security, has even more trouble on his hands when his cantankerous father Robert is cured of Alzheimer’s. Restored to his youthful prime, the former poet travels back to Fairmont High School, where he eagerly joins a group of students to protect the holdings of the University of California-San Diego library from being shredded. But this school protest turns out to be a nefarious international scheme that has the elder, naïve Gu in over his head.
Tor. 368 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0312856849

Science Fiction Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Vinge’s world is saturated with the logical extensions of current R&D. He has thought long and hard about how pervasive and ubiquitous information technology will transform our lives." Paul Di Fillippo

SFReviews.net 4 of 5 Stars
"[W]e’re not watching a Terminator/Matrix future where technology is evil. It’s one where technology has simply given plain old ordinary human evil more leeway to be creative." T. M. Wagner

San Diego Union-Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The traditional steely bones of storytelling, plot and character become fitted out and extended with the slippery hypermodern plastics of nanotechnolgy, wearable computing and Realpolitik. Technology starts the story off; then, as we read on, the political, social and economic implications get scary." Jim Hopper

Critical Summary

A multiple Hugo Award–winning author (A Fire Upon the Deep; A Deepness in the Sky) and former professor of mathematics at San Diego State University, Vernor Vinge writes as if he’s spent some time in 2025. This novel’s setting, contemporary with the author’s Fast Times at Fairmont High, is one of instantaneous technology where accomplished hackers wield profound influence. Reviewers applaud Vinge’s avoidance of science-fiction traps like information dumps and rootless "techno-bedazzlement" in favor of emotional storylines and plausible—and sometimes frightening—insights into where technology is moving humanity.