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!