I’m not much of a fanboy. But when you find there’s someone out there who has never failed in his or her professional capacity, to not just produce value, but to make you a bit giddy in the process, it’s time to pass along to others how great you’ve found the experience.
Neal Stephenson has written a metric buttload of awesomeness for the geek-minded novel devourer. And he has probably never written a sentence as bad as the preceding one. Over the years, his novels have become thicker, richer, and more… well, just more.
Note: Amazon has pulled the plug on Amazon Affiliates in retaliation for having to collect sales tax, so I’m not referring clients to Amazon, anymore. I’m also no longer buying from Amazon. #AmazonBoycott.
After reading Snow Crash, I picked up The Diamond Age the first chance I got. I figured it’d maybe be a sequel, or another action-packed cyber-punk thing like Snow Crash. The only thing the two books had in common was writing style and complexity.
Once again, this book is too complex to describe the plot in any sensible way. The environment where the story takes place is enough novelty to carry most sci-fi fare: Imagine a time when anything can be made from existing molecules, restructured by a machine, following a recipe created by engineers. Need a spoon, just request it, like you’d request a web page from Google. A microwave-size device spits it out in seconds. Need a mattress? Find a bigger machine, make your request, and voila. The input is simply siphoned from the sea. Anything, any size, any complexity.
Society has (similarly to Snow Crash) broken into new segments, but instead of burbclaves, it’s more like classes. The engineers have redefined themselves as a class, modeled after Victorian-era ideals. One of the most talented of these engineers gets selected for a project: to make an interactive story-book for the daughter of a magnate. But he makes three copies: One for the magnates daughter, one for his own, and one gets into the hands of a tough little orphan girl. The books act as tutors for each of the three girls. There are any number of subplots, including viral memes spread by sex cults, along with nano-bots, Confucianism and revolution. Imagine that! Well, you couldn’t if Stephenson weren’t your guide.
The “Should I read this?” question isn’t really answered here, is it? The answer is, if you’re a geek, you should read this. If you don’t like it, you may not be a real geek.