For some it may be utopia for others it is dyﬆopia what Vernor Vinge pictures our society may look like in juﬆ a few years. Rainbows End oﬀers an account of what technological (and medical) progress can mean for society and the individual.
There are several themes, though not necessarily original all of them are thought provoking. There is the “who watches the watchmen” theme in a world where computing power and interconnectedness allows the monitoring, proﬁling, and manipulation of individuals and crowds in real time. There is the advancement of personalized medicine and its failure to be beneﬁcial for everyone to the same degree. There is the “smart devices and dumb people” theme (or should I say diﬀerently skilled people?); the technological progress puts a high toll on the older generation whose skills become obsolete (and subsequently needs a re-education to ﬁt in the new world) and a high toll on the younger generation who lacks basic skills of today’s world. And there is the sad escape from reality into the virtual world, many diﬆinct virtual worlds leading to a segmentation of society, a living side by side without a living with another.
Vinge’s novel is not an easy read and many things remain open, queﬆions unanswered. Yet, this juﬆ contributes to a certain feeling of satisfaction: the novel not juﬆ entertains it makes you think. Well done!