Over the past week I asked people to volunteer our book club‘s next reading. The topic: science fiction. The list: around 33 crowdsourced and curated titles collected over the past two years.
And the winner? 73 votes were cast, leading to….
Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End (2006) (Amazon) (Wikipedia).
This Hugo-award-winning science fiction novel is all about the future of education after the current digital revolution. It’s probably the most important novel on that topic for a generation, and I’m very excited to read it with our book club.
Here’s the Wikipedia intro:
Thanks to advances in medical technology, Robert Gu is slowly recovering from Alzheimer’s disease. As his faculties return, Robert (who always has been technophobic) must adapt to a different world, where almost every object is networked and mediated-reality technology is commonplace. Robert, formerly a world-renowned poet but with a notoriously mean-spirited personality, must also learn how to change and how to rebuild relationships with his estranged family. At the same time, Robert and his granddaughter Miri are drawn into a complex plot involving a traitorous intelligence officer, an intellect of frightening (and possibly superhuman) competence hiding behind an avatar of an anthropomorphic rabbit, and ominous new mind control technology with profound implications.
(If you’re curious about poll results, Alfred Brooks’ 2030 tied for first with 9.59% (7 votes). (I made an executive decision, and think maybe we should read this next.)
Right after it were:
William Gibson, The Peripheral 8.22% (6 votes)
Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140 6.85% (5 votes)
And then a big tie for fourth place:
Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road 5.48% (4 votes)
Liu Cixin, The Three-Body Problem 5.48% (4 votes)
Ramez Naam, Nexus 5.48% (4 votes)
Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age 5.48% (4 votes) )
Now, to get started with Rainbows End, here’s a rough timeline. I’ll post about each chunk of the book on those days. Readers can respond through comments here, or on their own sites, or via Twitter or G+.
July 6-16: grab yourself a copy. Amazon, libraries, and book shops beckon.
July 17: chapters 1-9 (13-102 in my hardcover edition)
July 24: chapters 10-19 (103-216)
July 31: chapters 20-epilogue (217-364)
And here are some resources
- Wikipedia entry
- Jeff Young interviews Vinge in the year 2000.
- An IEEE article about the novel’s technologies.
- A New York Times article about the book.
- An SFF Audio discussion about the book, featuring leading science fiction scholar Eric Rabkin.
- Vinge speaking to the Long Now Foundation.
Now, are you ready to put in your lenses and go back to school?
Looking forward to it.
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