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Publisher's Summary

Vernor Vinge doesn't write novels very quickly, but when he writes one, it's well worth the wait. His last two novels have won the coveted Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the year. Rainbows End is set in the same near future as his novella "Fast Times at Fairmont High", which won the Hugo Award in 2002 for Best Novella. Set a few decades from now, Rainbows End is an epic adventure that encapsulates in a single extended family the challenges of the technological advances of the first quarter of the 21st century. The information revolution of the past 30 years blossoms into a web of conspiracies that could destroy Western civilization. At the center of the action is Robert Gu, a former Alzheimer's victim who has regained his mental and physical health through radical new therapies, and his family. His son and daughter-in-law are both in the military, but not a military we would recognize, while his middle-school-age granddaughter is involved in perhaps the most dangerous game of all, with people and forces more powerful than she or her parents can imagine.

Filled with excitement and Vinge's trademark potpourri of fascinating ideas, Rainbows End is another triumphantly entertaining novel by one of the true masters of the field.

©2006 Vinge Vernor; (P)2007 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

  • 2007 Hugo Award winner, Best Novel

"This [is] top-drawer hard SF - fast-paced, packed with action, intellectually challenging and, above all, capable of invoking SF's grail: a genuine sense of wonder." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    355
  • 4 Stars
    391
  • 3 Stars
    241
  • 2 Stars
    95
  • 1 Stars
    32

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    243
  • 4 Stars
    220
  • 3 Stars
    75
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    209
  • 4 Stars
    190
  • 3 Stars
    119
  • 2 Stars
    41
  • 1 Stars
    16
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not bad, but read something else

I expected more from a Hugo award winner. The story was okay, not terrifically imaginative, and maybe a bit too rich in computer hardware fetishism for my taste.

It's not that I hated it, I just feel like I wasted my time listening to this when there are still some Paolo Bacigalupi and China Mieville books that I haven't "read" yet.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • John
  • United States
  • 08-18-13

Disappointing

Would you try another book from Vernor Vinge and/or Eric Conger?

yes

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The introductory fram of the first 15 minutes was SOOO compelling and exciting that I was really unprepared for the small, personal redemption narrative that is really the heart of the book.

Was Rainbows End worth the listening time?

Sure

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JackMargo
  • St Petersburg, FL, United States
  • 11-14-12

A Good Story Even If You Are Not A Sci Fi Fan

My son recommended this book. All he reads is sci-fi. I don't. I started the book with a bias against it, however it turned out to be a good story and the performance was excellent. Good character development. It kept my interest.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ryan
  • United States
  • 10-31-12

It's no AFUTD, but it's good stuff for sure!

This book starts off VERY slow. I almost stopped reading it. Then it really picked up, and my patience was well-rewarded with an exciting hard scifi read.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • rob
  • Montpelier, VA, United States
  • 10-19-12

First Vinge book

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

There was a good story here. Original and well put together.

Any additional comments?

I'm not sure why I couldn't give it more stars. I thought it was an original, creative story. It was well put together. But I just didn't love it. But it was good enough for me to try another. I'll try another Vinge book in the future and see how I like that one.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The future of computing + a good spy story

Vernor Vinge's "Fire upon the Deep" was one of the first 'real' sf books I read when I was a young teen. Once I read it, I looked for everything VInge and devoured it. Unfortunately, Vinge doesn't publish too frequently, but when he does...ka-blam-oh!

"Rainbows End" is great sf. It's got good science, developed characters and an engaging story arc, plus there's a nicely veiled, implied reference to some of the AI stuff in "Neuromancer."
If you're into spy thrillers, espionage and plausible future tech, this will be a book for you.

My only beef is that I'm not a Pratchett reader, and there was a whole section that I feel would have been much more interesting had I been. Oh well, still a good read.

Eric Conger is a fine narrator, not fantastic, but he does his job well.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

kind of fun but not worth a re-read

at several points I got lost in the techno jargon, the story is a little bit thin but it was still enjoyable, some interesting ideas about where the internet and gaming could end up in 20 years. I agree with another reviewer who said it would have made a great short story, but stretched into a novel it became a little light.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Story was OK, characters underdevloped

The story did introduce a few interesting concepts - especially the notion of a behavioral control attack that is based on a biological vector that is triggered with specific sensory input.

But the character development left me feeling uninspired. I found it hard to convince myself to really care about them or their outcomes in the story.

  • Overall
  • Timothy
  • College Station, TX, United States
  • 03-28-11

Disappointed, couldn't finish it.

I loved "A Fire Upon the Deep", so I got this with great expectations. After slogging through about 2/3rds of the book, I ultimately just couldn't finish it. Frankly, I found it boring, and full of characters I didn't care about and situations I found either uninteresting or too implausible. Its presentation of the near-future world was somewhat interesting, but not enough to keep me going.

  • Overall

Good for Geeks

If the author had spent as much time developing the story line and the characters as he did describing the technology, this might have been a much better read for the average computer-literate person. It seemed to get more and more bogged down with techno-detail as the story got thinner and thinner, and before the end of part 1, I lost interest and stopped listening, sorry.