Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Monday 8 March 2010

Rainbows End

I just finished reading Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End. Pretty good, but I think A Fire Upon The Deep and A Deepness In The Sky were better. I think in Rainbows End the technology gets a bit in the way of the story ... Vinge carefully prognosticates and extrapolates, and that makes it overwrought.

Having said that, the prognostication is quite good and worth reading and thinking about. And having said THAT, there are a few major blind spots. In Vinge's world, software usually works, porn and spam are almost absent, and nations with extraordinary totalitarian power don't abuse it. Hmm ... I doubt it :-).


Hmm. I agree that Rainbows End doesn't top A Deepness in the Sky (my favorite). However, I think it's evident that he wanted to avoid the obvious plot lines you get in a total-surveillance society. After all, he's already (brilliantly) covered a lot of those in A Deepness in the Sky.
The authorities certainly do use the system in ways that should seem abusive. We see it in the way they track the spread of a minor disease at the beginning of the book, in the information Bob has at his disposal when he's on watch, etc. The really surprising thing was the amount of firepower Bob had at his disposal, given that he wasn't watching over a war zone. That's even extended into the electronic realm when they revoke Credit Suisse's certificates, destroying a huge swath of economic activity that had been mediated by the net. All without due process!
Also, how badly did Rainbows End make you want to read something by "Jerzy Hacek"?
Colby Russell
The Wikipedia page for the book contains this quote in the lead:
"Your hack was noticed. Back when I was young, you could have got a patent off it. Nowadays—"
"Nowadays, it should be worth a decent grade in a high-school class."
My comment on Nightmare on Infinite Loop was made in complete unawareness of this dialogue.
Benjamin Stover
Long ago, I quite enjoyed A Fire Upon the Deep. I liked how the zone concept hinted at the sheer locality of some of humankind's most amazing discovered truths (and conveniently gets around nature's speed limit at the same time). I'll have to add Deepness and Rainbows to my to-read list; thanks for the post.