Monday, February 05, 2007


Even though I have ninety-hundred-million books to read, sometimes I also borrow books. This time, I traded book-loans with the lovely Choo, who lent me Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (2006). Although there were some problematic elements of this book, I really enjoyed it. I just love "not-so-distant-future" science fiction, and if a major component of the story involves a library, I'm in.

In this case, the library-element of the plot is the evilish project in which a big company is basically shredding all the books in the Geisel Library at UC San Diego as part of a fast-track digitization scheme. See, by shredding the books and comparing the scanned and shredded bits with other shredded copies, computers put together all the pieces into a totally searchable, integrated, digital product. The only problem is that the books are totally destroyed. They are saving the shreds, though, in case future researchers want to take a look at them. Shredding the books is obviously evil, but because of the super integrated web technology (that you "wear" and access constantly), non-digital books are not even part of the universe of anyone under the age of 30. All the bits about the library, the shredding project, the ways people search and find information, and the virtual skins that individuals and groups are able to lay over the library-using experience were super fun.

The characters were generally interesting, although I was disappointed at the end in which the identity of Rabbit, this character who is involved with a whole series of spy plots and international intrigue (which I don't think I could summarize if I had to), is never revealed.

In reading some reviews online, the general consensus seems to be that this is not one of Vinge's best books, but that it has a lot of good aspects. I will totally seek out more Vinge in the future. Maybe even in the not-so-distant-future...

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