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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


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  • 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.

  • Overall

Erratic, but enjoyable if you are open to it

The setting and circumstances are intriguing. Vinge describes a believable, compelling, and fascinating world where a ubiquitous evolution of the Internet has reshaped human existence in the not-too-distant future. Particularly because of its role in education, this new technological medium has catapulted a generation of youth far beyond the capabilities and values of their parents.

As in other Vinge works, a broad, eclectic array of plot pieces are set into motion in order to arrive at a final climax. One moment you're reading about a miserable old poet who's been given a second chance on life, but must choose between his old talents and the brave new world. Then suddenly it's about children coming of age in a technological utopia. At one point it seemed to veer into a lecture on the merits of libertarian capitalism. For far too long it dwells on an unimportant sub-plot about teaching old dogs new technological tricks. And there's this grad student, desperate to find an original thesis. And then it's about a team of nostalgic rebels who fight against the violently rapid progress around them. Oh, and I almost forgot, there's a worldwide team of secret-agent anti-terrorist saviors who have been infiltrated and manipulated by a villain with a plan for world domination (except they drop that plot for such a long time that you forget if it was this book or another that you remember it from). And a husband-wife team of super military analysts. And a super-powerful AI screwing with all of them, just for fun. Oh, oh, and then there's a huge Pokemon battle! And some Bollywood executives, and some sort of worldwide technological catastrophe. No, I'm *not* making this up!

While it was never completely ridiculous, it was nevertheless frustrating to be constantly wondering, even well into the final 1/3 of the book, what the heck the main story was supposed to be, and how it all fit together. It does come together loosely, but then rushes into resolution and epilogue.

  • Overall

What Moore's law might provide

Interesting sci fi of a few decades from now without the full apocolypse having occurred yet.

  • Overall
  • Hugh
  • Perth
  • 07-03-10


Not his best work - I don't think it hangs together well. I almost gave up, but struggled through in the end. It did make me want to reread "Deepness in the Sky" though (I only have this as a dead-tree - would like the audiobook).

  • Overall
  • John
  • Woodbridge, VA, USA
  • 02-26-10

Confusing But Okay

If you listen while on a plane or get distracted when listening, skip this one. Once something is quickly introduced you don't get a chance to catch up. Left no real impression. Stick with the classics.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A great experience!

Intriguing to end. Many new ideas artfully presented. A few that didn't work so well. A few loose ends, that I expect will be handled in a sequel? Yes, please! The best audiobook I heard in quite some time.

  • Overall
  • SA
  • Alabama
  • 01-29-08

So, So

I picked this book up because I have heard so many good things about Vinge. I ended up forcing myself to listen to the whole book. The end was anti-climatic and really boring. The book was really about the characters and the technology and plot were nothing more than tools to delve into the character's mindset. If you are looking for a book that is more plot driven, this may not be for you. If you are looking for a more cerebral character driven story, you may enjoy this story.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ryan
  • CA, United States
  • 01-13-16

Decent premise to start, quickly falls to pieces

The premise of the story was great, but the multiple plots are disjointed, characters me the fact that this won a Hugo award is an indictment on how Hugo's either hit dead center, or miss by miles.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Too Old-school for this

My hat goes off to the author for his techno-based copy but I just couldn't keep up with all the new inventions. The concept is good but it lost me half-way through and I skipped to the end - somehting I never do - but I couldnt wait 4 hours to find the point. Just not for me.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful