may 30 2022 : rainbows end (vernor vinge)

rainbows end was... an interesting novel. i think my ultimate consensus is that I Like It but good god did it leave a lot of things at the end open to interpretation in like, a weird way that felt thematically satisfying but at the same time like, really Narratively unsatisfying, if that makes any sense?

the way that vinge just sort of dumped you into this super high-tech, technological-singularity, artificial-reality world i initially thought was really weird, but it worked with the actual way that the plot developed really well. as robert (the protagonist) gained more and more familiarity with the hyper-technological world around him, You As The Reader Also started getting more and more accustomed to all the terms and technology that the author was using, which i always think is verrrry cool to see in narratives... having reader knowledge about the world itself develop side-by-side with the narrator's awareness of the world. similarly, the plot itself was super fucking complicated. which in many cases i would side-eye really hard, but once again, it worked well with the actual narrative and setting and everything came together with the actual climax in a cool way that showed how all these individual schemes and plans finally came together and were, in turn, foiled by the Very Individual who'd set them all up in the first place. something something the rabbit's omnipresence, relative invisibility, and ultimate shutdown represents the manipulative, god-like nature of what would happen if the world becomes hyper-integrated with technology... ouroboros-esque "snake eating its own tail" in order to flex its own ego and demonstrate how powerful it is... technological surveillance ends up destroying itself and getting distracted by too many things at once, and ultimately it's only human agency that eventually surpasses even the omniscience of hyperadvanced technology...

at the same time, the novel introduced a lot of things that felt like they should've been chekhov's guns that simply were never answered, by the end of the novel? the rabbit's pdf, for example, was used to help miri and robert escape but then never really brought up after they were "debriefed" post-librareome incident. consequences for the credit suisse shutdown that broke the rabbit's back were never ever actually explained because... "well, miri and robert were both in the hospital at that time and only re-entered the world after the mess was cleaned up!" the ENTIRE concept of ygbm technology was brought up very very briefly at the beginning, was the main driving force of the conflict, and... was never actually fully explained or explored to the depths that it really SHOULD'VE been, for how big of a deal it was (considering that, once again, LITERALLY the novel's entire plot revolves around it). The Fucking Rabbit. i can excuse the total obscurity of the rabbit on a thematic, "it's meant to be vague and omniscient because it represents the World Wide Web as a whole" basis, but from a NARRATIVE basis, having a couple paragraphs edge dangerously close to exposing him as a human fucking being foiled by one credit company and then NEVER ADDRESSING who he really is behind the mask? Is such an awful fucking tease. Like come on.

overall it really felt like vinge bit off more than he could chew, like the plot itself started off superrrr complex and superrrr grand but ultimately wound up too complicated before everything could snap to a shut in one long, drawn-out (like. really drawn out. like 50-100 pages) climax before ultimately gasping for air and dying with a pretty bad, narratively unsatisfying ending overall. the pacing was just weird throughout the novel. and i have to say that while i LIKED most of the characters, robert's characterization was suchhhh a fucking copout... making him an abusive father/divorcee that essentially got amnesia and had to be rebuilt into a new person where "oh he's nicer now because of the trauma memory wipe his main character motivation is that he just needs to cure his permanent writer's block (also because of the trauma memory wipe)" IS SO. it's so. Come on man. You can do better than that. it's not that i WOULDN'T recommend the novel (the setting and setup ARE genuinely very fun and very interesting), but to enjoy it, good god you're going to have to close your eyes to some major fucking plotholes/pacing issues and really suspend your disbelief to an Un-fucking-imaginable level. Anyway. Can i get closure on the rabbit now.