Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.
Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a cure developed during the years of his near-fatal decline, he discovers that the world has changed and so has his place in it. He was a world-renowned poet. Now he is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he's starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts. Living with his son's family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access--through nodes designed into smart clothes--and to see the digital context--through smart contact lenses.
With knowledge comes risk. When Robert begins to re-train at Fairmont High, learning with other older people what is second nature to Miri and other teens at school, he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination.
In a world where every computer chip has Homeland Security built-in, this conspiracy is something that baffles even the most sophisticated security analysts, including Robert's son and daughter-in law, two top people in the U.S. military. And even Miri, in her attempts to protect her grandfather, may be entangled in the plot.
As Robert becomes more deeply involved in conspiracy, he is shocked to learn of a radical change planned for the UCSD Geisel Library; all the books there, and worldwide, would cease to physically exist. He and his fellow re-trainees feel compelled to join protests against the change. With forces around the world converging on San Diego, both the conspiracy and the protest climax in a spectacular moment as unique and satisfying as it is unexpected. This is science fiction at its very best, by a master storyteller at his peak.
At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
- Hugo Awards
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 01, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
Mr. Rabbit Visits Barcelona
Within the intelligence services of the Indo-European Alliance, there were a handful of bureaucratic superstars, people such as Gunberk Braun of the EUIB. Hopefully, their identities were unknown -- or a mass of contradictions -- to the general public. The superstars had their own heroes. In particular, when people like Gunberk Braun were confronted with the most desperate problems, there was a place to get help. There was a certain department in India's External Intelligence Agency. It didn't show up in EIA organization charts, and its purpose was happily undefined. Basically, it was whatever its boss thought it should be. That boss was an Indian national known (to those very few who knew of him at all) as Alfred Vaz.
Braun took his terrifying discovery to Vaz. At first, the older man was as taken aback as Braun himself had been. But Vaz was a fixer. "With the proper human resources, you can solve almost any problem," he said. "Give me a few days. Let's see what I can dig up."
In downtown Barcelona, three days later:
The rabbit hopped onto the unoccupied wicker chair and thence to the middle of the table, between the teacups and the condiments. It tipped its top hat first at Alfred Vaz and then at G�nberk Braun and Keiko Mitsuri. "Have I got a deal for you!" it said. Altogether, it was an unremarkable example of its type.
Alfred reached out and swiped his hand through the image, just to emphasize his own substance. "We're the ones with the deal."
"Hmph." The rabbit plunked its ass down on the table and pulled a tiny tea service out from behind the salt and pepper. It poured itself a drop or two -- enough to fill its cup -- and took a sip. "I'm all ears." It wiggled two long ones to emphasize the point.
From the other side of table, G�nberk Braun gave the creature a long stare. Braun was as ephemeral as the rabbit, but he projected a dour earnestness that was quite consistent with his real personality. Alfred thought he detected a certain surprised disappointment in the younger man's expression. In fact, after a moment, G�nberk sent him a silent message.
Braun --> Mitsuri, Vaz:This is the best you could recruit, Alfred?
Alfred didn't reply directly. Instead, he turned to the creature sitting on the table. "Welcome to Barcelona, Mr. Rabbit," he said. He waved at the towers of the Sagrada Familia that soared up and up from just across the street. The cathedral was best seen without virtual elaboration; after all, the reality of Gaudi architecture was gaudy beyond the imagination of modern revisionists. "Do you have any idea why we selected this location for our meeting?"
The rabbit sipped its tea. Its gaze slid in a very un-rabbity way to take in the noisy crowds that swept past the tables, to scan the costumes and body-plans of tourists and locals. "Ah, is it that Barcelona is a place for the beautiful and the bizarre, one of the few great cities of the twentieth century whose charm survives in the modern world? Could it be that on the side, you and your families are taking touchy-feely tours through Parc Guell and writing it all off on your expense accounts?" He stared at Braun and at Keiko Mitsuri. Mitsuri was frankly masked. She looked a bit like Marcel Duchamp's nude, built from a shifting complex of crystal planes. The rabbit shrugged, "But then again, maybe you two are thousands of kilometers away."
Keiko laughed. "Oh, don't be so indecisive," she said, speaking with a completely synthetic accent and syntax. "I'm quite happy to be in Parc Guell right now, feeling reality with my very own real hands."
Mitsuri --> Braun, Vaz:In fact, I'm in my office, admiring the moonlight on Tokyo bay.
The rabbit continued, ignorant of the silent messaging byplay: "Whatever. In any case, the real reasons for meeting here: Barcelona has very direct connections to wherever you're really from, and modern security to disguise what we say. Best of all, it has laws banning popular and police snooping ... unless of course you are the EU Intelligence Board."
Mitsuri --> Braun, Vaz:Well, that's one third of a correct guess.
Braun --> Mitsuri, Vaz:Mr. Rabbit himself is calling from some distance.An EU real-time estimate hung in the air above the little creature's head: 75 percent probability that the mind behind the rabbit image was in North America.