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The Bellinghman
Date: 2007-09-16 21:51
Subject: #169 Vernor Vinge: Rainbows End
Security: Public
Music:Yes - Excerpts From "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII"
Tags:books, reviews
Vernor Vinge: Rainbows End

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor (17 Aug 2007)
ISBN-10: 0330451944
ISBN-13: 978-0330451949
Category(ies): SF

Set in 2025, the central character is Robert Gu, formerly one of poetry's shining stars, who has been suffering from Alzheimer's for many years but who has now been restored to relative physical and mental health by a new medical treatment. Of course, the world has moved on, and he has long since lost his place. How he finds it again is the subject of this novel.

Firstly, this is relatively unusual in being set in the near future - less than a generation from now, which is a dangerous time for any SF novel. (1984? 2001? And that's just novels with dates.) But it's possibly more unusual in that, at least to start with, there isn't a sympathetic character to be found. Gu himself is a man who achieved his prominence as someone who could use words with a facility denied to others, and he frequently used that ability to cut others to shreds. He still has that ability, even if the constructive side hasn't yet returned. And the other characters all seem to be trying to exploit each other too. The most worrying attempt is in the 'You Gotta Believe Me ' (YGBM) program, which is an entirely too credible research program by which a government or large corporation (there's a difference?) could reliably persuade people to do what it wanted. The hidden machinations of those trying to further or hinder this impinge initially tangentially on our characters, but it later becomes really quite important.

(Note that the lack of an apostrophe in the title is deliberate, and remarked upon in the text.)

In the end, a novel is supposed to be about character growth. In Robert Gu's case, it's regrowth, but it's certainly there, and the other major characters do develop. But you also get Vinge's trademark scintillating invention. By the way, in the hours between buying this and reading it, it had won this year's Hugo - and deservedly.
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Angelic Eye for the Gendered-Species Individual: words words words
User: rysmiel
Date: 2007-09-17 14:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:words words words
Maybe I should read it again. I thought it was a perfectly solid mid-ranking SF novel, but not remotely on a par with A Fire Upon the Deep or A Deepness in the Sky, and not what I would have voted for had I been voting for the Hugo this year.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-09-18 07:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's a very different type of book from those two. If you had been expecting a fairground ride of ideas, then you would have been disappointed. Not to say there aren't ideas there, but not to the sheer scale of aFUtD.

What hooked me was the characters, and how they changed.
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