Today, May 3, 2011, I, Aly Marie Rutter, finished Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End in a marathon fashion.
Yes, I'm proud. And I will brag about it a little bit, because it was harder than I thought it was going to be.
[wondering what this book is? i'm not going into much plot detail, so check out sam mcgrath's summary and analysis of the first couple of chapters... i thought it was really concise and insightful. or wikipedia is always a good source :)]
Let's talk first about my "reading in a digital format" experience.
I estimate that I spent about 9 hours staring at black Times New Roman font on a white screen [fine, it wasn't all in one sitting. but it might as well have been]. Whoever says that aesthetic is not important, try reading a 368 page book like that.
Never before have I finished a book in a digital format. I started Anna Karenina on my dad's iPad, but my patience, eyes, and time ran out. Staring at a computer screen isn't as exciting to me as turning the physical pages of a book. Honestly, getting used to looking at word after word on a screen got boring [but i suppose you could make the same argument for word after word on a page...]. I didn't know how far I was or how long it would take me to finish. I couldn't take it outside to read in happy sunshine... You can't see the screen if it's an exceptionally bright and beautiful day [like today, for example]. Until books get shredded up by the Huertas of the world, I will read them in the paper format.
Anyway... let's continue. Sci-fi hasn't been on my "to-read" list for a good five years, but that doesn't mean I can't be entertained by it. Yes, I did read [and thoroughly enjoy] the whole Ender series by Orson Scott Card. And I found myself enjoying RE enough to keep reading without being miserable. Cool ideas [that i don't necessarily think will happen], but more than anything, an escape.
As I saw my scroll-bar near the bottom of the screen, I started to look for one-liners that explained the theories behind this book. Many of them correspond our world as well as the futuristic one. Here are a few:
"For a weird instant Tommie looked like an old rake with some sweet young thing. Just another image from the past that had nothing to do with the truth."Ideas, assumptions, preconceptions, science, the things that we think make us who we are so often become obsolete.
"So often that I think the others were using me to generate some questions for inspiration, and then warping them to their own purposes. In the end ... I came to treasure these bizarre interventions. My dear hijackers were asking questions I would never have conceived."My first thought is, "Ah... why can't the smart people just be good? What could be accomplished if we just harnessed that questioning power?"
"I got a new life, but the Alzheimer's cure ... it destroyed my talent."Not only is this a powerful statement about what could happen with the advances of certain technology, it is Robert Gu admitting his weakness. I hardly noticed the change in Robert Gu; it was almost imperceptible. I found myself wondering if he had changed at all until he was alone with Miri in the tunnels.
For the first time since he lost his marbles, he was creating something that others valued.In my experience, correct me if I'm wrong, if the things you are doing are not appreciated or at the least understood, there is no drive to continue doing what you are doing. I think a lot about this and related ideas.
"I don't need this. I am happy with the new me!... And hovering immanent all around him were the worlds of art and science that humankind was busy building. What if I can have it all?"This is the last line in the book. And it wasn't what I was expecting in the slightest. High-five to Vinge for surprising me and making me think, but truthfully I was angered. Robert Gu was brought back from the dead. Cured of Alzheimer's, which caused the death of my own grandmother and whose frequency has increased 66% between 2000 and 2008. What a selfish way of looking at the miracle that has been gifted to him.
But wouldn't I want the same?
And don't I say things very similar to that most days?