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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
  • Steve
  • La Quinta, CA, USA
  • 03-06-08

Great Discovery

One of my favorite things about Audible, are the surprises you find if willing to take a chance on mixed reviews.

This has been the best treat so far. My thanks to the readers who didn’t get it.

Having never even heard of Vinge, I was totally captivated by his near future extension of present day trends, and, the new tech he invents.

Story line and world view worked well together, no excessive fluff explaining concepts, but enough back story to keep everything together.

This is now one of my top 5 books, I just hope this glowing review doesn’t spoil it for a future treasure hunter.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


A fantastic listen, full of great characters and ideas. If you like Neal Stephenson, William Gibson or Greg Bear (just to name a few) you will enjoy this book. Considered a post-cyberpunk masterpiece.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

Stay Plugged In, San Diego

While those not used to traditional Science Fiction may find this read a little dense, it is SCIENCE Fiction. Based in a cyber mapped future, where practically everyone wears interfaces to the internet in their clothing, and information technology is used for good and evil, this story remains, at its heart, human. There is a reason this master crafted story won the Hugo- and that is because Vinge seems to not only understand the classic conflict of man vs machine, but he also realizes and typifies how much we love, hate and depend on being plugged in.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Shane
  • Richardson, TX, USA
  • 12-16-08

Good Read

The story is well written sci-fi that creates a near future reality that is easily believable and understandable. Within this setting you have the story of a gifted but difficult man, given a second chance to live. There is always a catch of course, in this case in comes in the form of a rabbit who is trying to save the world, end the world or possibly just looking for some fun. All in all, I highly recommend the audio book. If yoiu like sci-fi.. I think you'll enjoy it. I did.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

From the original Cyberspace Author

It's interesting to note how far thinking has come since Vernor Vinge's original "True Names" story about what we later came to call Cyberspace. In this novel, he gives us some glimpses into trends that are happening in social network software, computer hardware, bio-engineering and an entire raft of other things that are going on today. It's interesting to see how his thinking has changed from Cyberspace type visions to Augmented Reality and pervasive computing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • mORRINSVILLENew Zealand
  • 02-10-08

Hard Core Speculative Fiction!

While not the most compulsive of narratives, “Rainbows End” will nevertheless be of great interest to hardcore fans of speculative fiction. Treading similar ground to Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge’s story set in the very near future pulses with ideas and possibility, yet lacks the formers wit and verve.
The story revolves around the central character of Robert Gu, Nobel prize winning poet, lost in the depths of Alzheimer’s. Of the three main narrative threads this is the strongest, and could have functioned as a novel on its own. Gu’s story is one of redemption, beautifully expressed, and worth the listeners effort. Of the other two threads, namely an earth shaking conspiracy and persona called “Rabbit”, I was ambivalent and found them to be hard work. Having said that, the unexplained “Rabbit” remained with me for several days, and after some reflection I wonder if the author was expressing something regarding the evolution of technology; aka Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “Noosphere” .
The narration was of a high standard and I could not but help think that the character of Robert Gu sounded just like the voice of the actor Jason Robarts.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Dry, very dry

I was really excited at the beginning of this story. But by part 2 I was bored out of my brain. I know it's an award-winning novel, but for me there's far too much unnecessary dialogue and too few scene changes. It just doesn't move quickly enough for me. I gave up partway through part 2.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Malcolm
  • Hagensborg, British Columbia, Canada
  • 04-13-08


This author has put enough thought into his work that I enjoyed it the first time and immediately started again from the beginning. His world is a complex and believable concept of the near future. He has woven estimated psychological, physical and technological extrapolations from the present into the future and used them as the backdrop for an end of the world type crisis. The story line is entertaining but one can lose oneself in his vision of the everyday lives of our grandchildren.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • William
  • Burbank, CA, USA
  • 03-19-08

Believable and fun

Believable technology and an interesting main character. The vibe and energy reminded me of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, so if you liked that, you'll probably like this book as well. "The Rabbit" character that emerges could have come from William Gibson, and I'm hoping for a sequel featuring it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Reads like a video game

This is about a world, not too far into the future, where technology is everywhere, viruses and consumer manipulation is on the order of the day and one's life is intimately entwined with virtual realities.

The book's strength is that it builds on today's video and internet games and extends it into the future to create a real/virtual world that you could well imagine could actually come about.

But this is the book's ultimate weakness as well. It ends up reading too much like a video game. Nothing seems real and the story ends up sounding like a juvenile virtual dream.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • treadings
  • 06-15-16

good concept, lost its way a bit

I liked the cranky anti hero aspect, and a return from degenerative mental decline was a good start, but thought vernor got a bit carried away with the all pervasive media, and 'belief circles' just got a bit vapid. Characters always felt a bit safe. Good vision though.

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  • Emily
  • 03-11-14

I'm not a sci-fi person but

this book was a lot of fun. I loved all the futuristic technology which seems entirely plausible if still a bit far off. I thought the plot was a bit ridiculous in the end. But the journey there was enjoyable.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert McElroy
  • 12-01-15


tried the first two chapters but just can not get into it. not sure if the voice or the story

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • emmoff
  • 11-17-16

Well plotted and thoughtful SF

Robert Gu, a poet laureate with Alzheimer's, has his youth and mind restored by medical science. Unfortunately he has a 90's mind in a 2020 world and no longer can write poetry. He goes back to Fairmont High School to learn how to navigate the heavily networked world and "wear" the new technology. The awkwardness of the arrogant Gu is wonderful and the future tech and world is great. The plot develops into a mystery conspiracy adventure with Gu's 13 yo granddaughter and assorted oldies (each adapting their past lives to the new world).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful