I don't normally get a lot of time to read books just for fun - usually I'm doing my best just to keep up with email, blog postings, and the occasional technical book.  Recently my good friend Phil Wheat, our AE down here in South Central, suggested a book for me called Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge.  At first, I thought he was talking about Childhood's End, a book I was forced to read in High School and didn't want to relive those brutal memories again. 

Since I picked up the book, and realized that it's NOT the same one I was dreading, I've been happily reading away ever since.  I still don't get much time to read for fun, but a dozen or so pages at night seems to be getting me through the book rather quickly.

I won't tell you what the story is about, because from my perspective, what the book is about isn't nearly as interesting as the world in which the characters live.  In the extended title, it boasts "a novel with one foot in the future".  What they're referring to is the assertion, by the author, that Virtual Reality and Physical Reality will merge together such that everyday life will be constantly "enhanced" by wearable computers.  This isn't a geeky wearable computer that makes you exhausted just carrying it around, or some implant that takes over your soul - these are high-tech contact lenses that are controlled via a Minority-Report style interface - you know, you wave your arms around and type on a virtual keyboard in mid air - that kind of stuff...

Anyway, it's turned out to be a really interesting read.  I'm only about half way through so far, but I've found Vernor's thoughts of how Virtual and Physical Reality will mesh really interestingly.  He predicts a time when you can be standing in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre without actually being there, and augment your visual experience by concurrently running context-based searches over the Internet and incorporating the results into what you see, hear and touch. I can really see how out of control this could get, but it's a fun journey to take. 

So - pick up a copy of Rainbow's End for yourself, or you can borrow mine when I'm done with it.  It's a pretty interesting read.  I bet if I looked around the Internet, I could find more information on this book and how some really smart people have dissected the story and the technology 10 ways to Sunday, but for now, I'm enjoying just reading and discovering for myself...