Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon & more...

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I loved REAMDE.

he carried yellow flowers (DJP), Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:07 (eight years ago) link

I just got it from the library. I tend to read on the subway ride to work, so this is a bit unwieldy! I'm finding it much more engaging than Anathem, however.

rayuela, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 20:41 (eight years ago) link

Didn't hate it, but have forgotten almost everything about it, as I thought I would. Just, "meh", really. Felt the lack of digressions; also felt like he'd tried to cater to his critics at the expense of the aspects enjoyed by his audience.

stet, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 20:46 (eight years ago) link

it was entertaining but seemed pretty dumb for stephenson. basically a nerdy, 900-page airplane book - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 1 November 2011 20:48 (eight years ago) link

maybe "dumb" should have been in scare quotes there.

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 1 November 2011 20:48 (eight years ago) link

I loved REAMDE and totally annoyed Mr. Jaq by staying up too late reading it with single-minded purpose. And then not being able to tell him anything about why it was so engrossing, because it's really not his kind of thing so attempts were met with ????
¯\(°_0)/¯ ???? kinds of looks.

Jaq, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 21:38 (eight years ago) link


I've heard his campus comedy novel thing is horrible and I have no real desire to read it

i liked it a lot when i read it in college. it wasn't as funny when i re-read it a few years ago, but it's still good.

sarahel, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 21:46 (eight years ago) link

700 pages in, and i'm still liking this a lot. there's only been one weird digression (bears and the t/f of menstrual blood attraction) and i agree it's an 'airplane novel' but i'd be v. satisfied to read a lot more of these, if that's what NS wanted to write

turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Tuesday, 1 November 2011 21:48 (eight years ago) link

i thought anathem was better, despite some long boring unnecessary stretches. reamde was fun and i also burned through it pretty fast but was ultimately pretty silly.

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 1 November 2011 21:53 (eight years ago) link

i should reread cryptonomicon, maybe it was more straight-ahead and reamde-esque than i remember. in my memory it was fun and exciting but also pretty smart, but i read it like 10 years ago i think.

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 1 November 2011 21:55 (eight years ago) link

I read the campus college thing when I was in college too, and around the same time that I read Ballard's high rise--I don't know if this is actually true anymore but at the time I felt like those two books were making the nature vs nurture argument with each other.

rayuela, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 22:00 (eight years ago) link

I think I was also greatly influenced by chunks of reamde being set in my neighborhood (Georgetown) - it always makes me happy when there's a bit of home an author's got right.

n/a, I described it to someone as much more Cryptonomicon than Snowcrash, but I think it's possibly more Zodiac than Cryptonomicon.

Jaq, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 22:01 (eight years ago) link

It took me 50 pages to realize re-u meant reunion. I kept seeing "re-up". Sigh.

rayuela, Wednesday, 2 November 2011 00:14 (eight years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Marathoned through the last 600 pages yesterday and today. Loads of fun. I enjoyed the structure of overlapping scenes -- like watching roofers shingle a house the size of a football field.

Steamtable Willie (WmC), Saturday, 19 November 2011 04:33 (eight years ago) link

six months pass...

You know something? If I were a successful author and was looking for something different to do that can also take advantage of my obscure hobby, I'd probably do the same: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/260688528/clang

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:12 (seven years ago) link

i found a continuity error in anathem -- a character has a few lines in a scene despite supposedly being thousands of miles away -- and emailed him about it. three months later he wrote back admitting it and saying thanks. probably should have pressed him to hire me

mookieproof, Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:19 (seven years ago) link

Is anyone reading The Mongoliad?

calstars, Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:34 (seven years ago) link

Snow Crash to be directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block, Adam and Joe):
http://badassdigest.com/2012/06/14/attack-the-blocks-joe-cornish-to-direct-cyberpunk-classic-snow-crash/

Don't recall a think about snow crash. Should I reread or is life too short?

Jesu swept (ledge), Friday, 15 June 2012 09:45 (seven years ago) link

pizza delivery. lots of talk about sumerian proto language. lead character with stupid name.

koogs, Friday, 15 June 2012 09:47 (seven years ago) link

His great 3:30 single before he started on the concept albums. (this reading kind of ignores the bit where it slows to a stop for Sumerian chanting, but that only makes me love him more).

A question: Neal Stephenson is the only writer for whom I'll think "I really enjoyed reading that sentence. I think I'll read it again!". Where else should I be looking for this (which I understand (and am completely at peace with) to be non-correlated with literary "quality")

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 15 June 2012 12:29 (seven years ago) link

<I>lead character with stupid name.</I>

Hiro Protagonist is a great name, a great character detail _and_ a great joke, all in one!

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 15 June 2012 12:30 (seven years ago) link

that name broke the spell, made you remember you were reading a book, didn't like it for that reason as much as anything.

great central premise though (one they used in the New Avengers...) and there was some well thought-out virtual reality thing in there as well. all this makes me want to re-read it.

koogs, Friday, 15 June 2012 13:01 (seven years ago) link

A question: Neal Stephenson is the only writer for whom I'll think "I really enjoyed reading that sentence. I think I'll read it again!". Where else should I be looking for this

sounds like a cue for new ilb thread to me.

Jesu swept (ledge), Friday, 15 June 2012 13:06 (seven years ago) link

like david foster wallace, his non-fiction is a lot better. i kind of wish he did a 'remix' of all his fiction books reformulated as speculative essays.

Philip Nunez, Friday, 15 June 2012 14:54 (seven years ago) link

also, a silly name is less of a spell-breaking thing than characters being mouthpieces for concepts and information stephenson wants to get across that he could do (and does) much better just speaking directly to the reader. I know that's a standard deficiency in SF writing, but I feel like other authors should get a pass because they don't seem to know any better way to communicate, but Stephenson is just fine at expressing weird or technical ideas to laymen without these unnecessary character props.

Philip Nunez, Friday, 15 June 2012 14:59 (seven years ago) link

Seems like it should get the Game of Thrones treatment, not get edited down into meaninglessness in order to fit in two or so hours.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 15 June 2012 17:05 (seven years ago) link

but Stephenson is just fine at expressing weird or technical ideas to laymen without these unnecessary character props.

Or was until he took misguided criticism of the infodumps to heart and started doing it via characters in Reamde

stet, Friday, 15 June 2012 20:44 (seven years ago) link

r(ea)mde

un® (dayo), Friday, 15 June 2012 23:23 (seven years ago) link

six months pass...

Really loving the hell out of Reamde.

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 4 January 2013 05:56 (seven years ago) link

Stephenson talks about REAMDE with lawyers at the UW Law School

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6-gpVmHh4c

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 4 January 2013 05:57 (seven years ago) link

tried agin to read quicksilver and literally could not make it past 10 pages, what a piece of shit

乒乓, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 14:45 (seven years ago) link

rong but lol

Roberto Spiralli, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 14:55 (seven years ago) link

haha I am a big stephenson fan! like back in high school I even read the big u and those things he published as 'stephen bury'

乒乓, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 14:56 (seven years ago) link

reamde is such a crock

stet, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 15:28 (seven years ago) link

rong

Solange Knowles is my hero (DJP), Tuesday, 8 January 2013 15:29 (seven years ago) link

feels so like Stephenson trying to appease his critics and in the process toning down/losing the things I valued about his old ways. Have ranted on this before tho. Huge score on goodreads, higher than Cryptonomicon, so it must be working.

stet, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 15:49 (seven years ago) link

Tried to read Quicksilver last year, not long after I wrote this in the SF poll results thread:

Enjoyed Snow Crash, but the awkwardness of the infodumps stayed with me more than the plot or anything else; thought The Diamond Age a lot better, & it made my ballot. Keep looking at that Baroque Cycle, but I fear it will basically be x,000 pages of me shouting 'NO NO NO WRONG NO NOT LIKE THAT' at the book, since I am ok at Europe 1640-1740 (and I didn't enjoy Cryptonomicon so much. It was ok).
― portrait of velleity (woof), Wednesday, April 6, 2011 8:05 PM (1 year ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The prophecy was fulfilled, except I stopped after 200pp. Might still read Anathem one of these days.

woof, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 15:54 (seven years ago) link

yeah, awkwardness of the infodumps otm, also it seems to amplify the sci fi writer's belief that they can predict the future to an annoying degree since the novel is set in the past, all the horses have run so that you get a lot of "there's this obscure thing the british are importing from the indies ... you steep it in water, it makes you feel excited ... they call it ... thé" which is just awful awful awful to read

乒乓, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 16:12 (seven years ago) link

Nell's father, Bud, is presented as an archetypal cyberpunk character [...] Stephenson attempts to establish The Diamond Age as a "postcyberpunk" book by killing this character early on, while acknowledging the influence of the cyberpunk genre.

cackhanded symbolism or harmless fan service? anyway i couldn't really deal with the overall ridiculous try-hard ideas factory run wild of the diamond age, thought anathem was a lot more simple and grounded in its world building.

ledge, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 16:32 (seven years ago) link

xp

right and if he had a cute factoid about the past he would not hesitate to work it in; but in most ways it felt like a really underimagined version of history – weak sense for the language and politics, no feel for place, fixation on (relatively) Big Names. And not really trashy enough to be a romp; quite fancied itself.

I dunno, like I say, it's a period I'm a little too close to, but I couldn't deal with it.

woof, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 16:46 (seven years ago) link

hey, i finished those. i had totally forgotten that.

'anathem' and 'reamde' are basically waiting for me to i. see cheap paperbacks and ii. have a long haul flight

well, no, i'm waiting for that to happen. nothing i do is going to make the books give a shit.

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Tuesday, 8 January 2013 17:54 (seven years ago) link

xp no, it's precisely a romp, that's why the things you're complaining about are kind of irrelevant, or let me rephrase that, irrelevant to me. you can boil most of stephenson down to a good old adventure wheeze with part of an encyclopaedia brazenly regurgitated into it. that's not everyone's good time but i'd say if it's worth you bothering with him that has to be more of an attraction than a distraction.

Roberto Spiralli, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:00 (seven years ago) link

i think anathem is his best book and the context that he makes for himself there - connected to our world but deliberately separated also, really works for him. what's less obvious is that the baroque cycle books are really the same thing - not quite our history, which i think becomes obvious. an not really just an alternative history. it is fiction with strands of our history papier machéd onto it.

Roberto Spiralli, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:04 (seven years ago) link

reamde is embarrassing garbage half of it felt like tommy friedman travel lit and the rest was unconvincing characters acting unconvincingly but most importantly it wasnt really that fun. its not like jack shaftoe was a particularly well-realized character but he was a lot of fun to spend time with - none of reamde's sunday magazine composites are allowed to be that much of a joy since theyre so busy illustrating some aspect of how the world is now or w/e

gray star, a settlement in the remotest northwest (Lamp), Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:14 (seven years ago) link

lack of fun otm.

stet, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:47 (seven years ago) link

I posted my first reaction to Reamde before the part of the book when the characters get to the Pacific NW which is when it all went flat. Would have rather read Cryptonomicon again.

sunday magazine composites are allowed to be that much of a joy since theyre so busy illustrating some aspect of how the world is now or w/e

^^^^ OTM.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 9 January 2013 00:01 (seven years ago) link

Really enjoyed Diamond Age and Snow Crash (though both had problems), but feel no desire at all to attempt these mountain-sized books

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Wednesday, 9 January 2013 00:55 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

Picked up Zodiac for a buck and plowed through it over the last few subway rides. I'd always expected it to be kind of dumb, but it wasically entertaining. The flaws do show pretty clearly (large, ill-defined cast, really awful 'bearded craze-o badass' protagonist (very Spider Jerusalem or King Mob), female characters are a mess, etc. etc.). Can see all kinds of stuff he comes back to in Snow Crash, or problems he tries to fix. Lot of... boating. If you can get past the stuff that just really doesn't make sense it's kind of fun - shorter than his others and structured a bit by being a neo-noir detective deal (that also feels a lot like it's pitching to be an action movie).

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 5 June 2014 00:50 (five years ago) link

so wait what was the deal with enoch root again

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 5 June 2014 16:40 (five years ago) link

There's a whole site dedicated to that I think. The best theory I read was that he was a robot sent back from the future to guide the timeline. The books, taken together, establish something rather different - is it safe to spoil Baroque Cycle at this point?

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 5 June 2014 17:05 (five years ago) link

been plowing through Seveneves which i don't really recommend as isolation reading given the emphasis on global catastrophe and dread. also it's not really that good. i just hit the big shift about 2/3 of the way through and i'm really not feeling it, kinda exposes a ton of his weaknesses as a writer as well as his increasingly dodgy politics. this book is shockingly comfortable with eugenics and genetics-as-destiny! there's even a character who invokes a "bell curve" type argument about race and intelligence that just goes totally unchecked by anyone else, as if it's trustworthy scientific information like all the other nerdy shit people spout off in his books. i guess if you're really into orbital mechanics it'd be a blast. but after devouring the Mars Trilogy twice over i'm ready for a lot more self-conscious politics in my books about spacefaring nerds.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 16:30 (one month ago) link

I couldn't get past the first sentence of that book, which was laugh-out-loud hilarious and bad.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 16:33 (one month ago) link

The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

I mean, this is like Daniel Pinkwater-level (and I love Pinkwater and would probably like Stephenson's books more if he wrote like Pinkwater, which he generally does not)

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 16:33 (one month ago) link

I think what I may end up remembering best about this book is the rather brassy choice on the back cover for one of the two review blurbs to be blatantly plucked from a savage pan:

"Fascinating . . . . Insights into the human character shine like occasional full moons." - Boston Globe

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:36 (one month ago) link

"Still, she couldn't help but flinch as the final few flynks snapped around toward them." (p. 617)

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 03:58 (one month ago) link

gawwwwd the world-building in this final section is just so stupid, in the most blinkered, weird, nerd-author-can't-perceive-how-strange-he's-become kind of way.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 3 April 2020 13:44 (one month ago) link

author-can't-perceive-how-strange-he's-become kind of way.

― Doctor Casino, Friday, April 3, 2020 2:44 PM

This can either be the best thing or the worst thing.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 3 April 2020 21:17 (one month ago) link

worst in this case

watched The Core last night and was struck by how much it basically is a dumb and sometimes fun version of this book

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 16:45 (one month ago) link

the book is already dumb obv so what i mean is "less nerdy"

Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 16:45 (one month ago) link


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