― winterland, Monday, 23 February 2004 09:32 (sixteen years ago) link
― Jaq, Friday, 27 February 2004 23:47 (sixteen years ago) link
My girlfriend read Quicksilver and I heard nothing but horrible things throughout those 800 pages. Unsympathetic characters, pretension at the expense of, well, everything etc. I've got an advance of the next one but I don't think I'm going to read that one either.
― Jordan (Jordan), Saturday, 28 February 2004 03:04 (sixteen years ago) link
― spittle (spittle), Saturday, 28 February 2004 06:07 (sixteen years ago) link
― anode (anode), Saturday, 28 February 2004 06:51 (sixteen years ago) link
― winterland, Saturday, 28 February 2004 12:59 (sixteen years ago) link
― adam (adam), Saturday, 28 February 2004 16:37 (sixteen years ago) link
― remy (x Jeremy), Saturday, 7 January 2006 20:59 (fourteen years ago) link
― remy (x Jeremy), Saturday, 7 January 2006 21:00 (fourteen years ago) link
It took me a few goes to finish the Baroque Cycle, but I'm glad I did - the last half of System Of The World is the best part of the series.
― Forest Pines (ForestPines), Saturday, 7 January 2006 21:58 (fourteen years ago) link
― doogie, Monday, 9 January 2006 06:26 (fourteen years ago) link
― Mog, Wednesday, 18 January 2006 09:36 (fourteen years ago) link
Baroque Cycle is perhaps a little too unwieldy to approach any of this quite as well, and it burns a lot of its running time on period charm and just Stephenson showing off.... BUT, it's arguably a more satisfying read. The characterization is certainly his best yet - with Daniel Waterhouse he gives center stage to a protagonist who's not a one-note (Hiro), messiah (Nell), badass (the Shaftoes), superhuman genius (Lawrence), a blatant author stand-in (Randy), or anything else so simple. The hero as an undertalented (or underachieving) coward overshadowed by much greater men of his time has tremendous meat to it, and Stephenson doesn't shy away from exploring it. Over the 2700-odd pages of Baroque you can come to really love Daniel, flaws and all, in a way that goes far beyond what you normally hope to get out of escapist period fiction. He's a nice piece of work. Eliza never comes together quite so well, although you can feel him trying and she certainly beats America Shaftoe. Half-Cock Jack is, of course, pure entertainment and lights up every page, something often quite necessary since, especially in the first half, Baroque has an unfortunate tendency towards long passages of correspondence and courtly intrigue. Overall, though, it's a really satisfying slab of fiction, and I rattle on about it partly because I think it demonstrates well how far he's come along since Snow Crash and Diamond Age (both of which I would recommend!). Really cannot wait to see what comes next.
― Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 1 November 2006 06:38 (thirteen years ago) link
― The Android Cat (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 1 November 2006 21:44 (thirteen years ago) link
― Docpacey (docpacey), Wednesday, 1 November 2006 22:01 (thirteen years ago) link
― The Android Cat (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 1 November 2006 22:03 (thirteen years ago) link
Sci Fi announced that George Clooney will be part of the creative team bringing the retro cyberpunk book The 'Diamond Age' to the channel. Neal Stephenson will adapt the miniseries from his novel, which I'll basically sum up as the adventures a young girl goes through as she comes into the possession of a talking "smartbook." Clooney and partner Grant Heslov will executive produce.
― Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Friday, 12 January 2007 20:45 (thirteen years ago) link
― hearditonthexico (rogermexico), Friday, 12 January 2007 22:27 (thirteen years ago) link
― cellardoor (cellardoor), Saturday, 13 January 2007 23:46 (thirteen years ago) link
I really liked Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash, but really madly loved The Baroque Cycle because I'm a huge fan of long works of historical fiction involving pirates, scientists, and conspiracies, and it has all three! In that respect, it's the closest thing to The Sot-Weed Factor I've read in years, which is my barometer of the most fun book ever. And I want more. So given that that's where my taste runs, what would ILX recommend?
Diamond Age would lend itself well to television, I think. We'll see.
― Maria, Wednesday, 16 January 2008 18:14 (twelve years ago) link
George Clooney has bought the rights to run Diamond Age as a limited series.
― remy bean, Thursday, 17 January 2008 21:24 (twelve years ago) link
Stephenson update on the eve of the release of Anathem
― Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 20:49 (eleven years ago) link
it is a good book. or maybe two of them: the convent part and the space part. i read an advance copy, and i have to say it is a pretty swell release, espesh the early philosophy-lite stuff.
― remy bean, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 20:50 (eleven years ago) link
the CD that comes with it is ... i know, by eno (right?) ... but kind of terrible, even unlistenable.
― remy bean, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 20:52 (eleven years ago) link
oh, wait David Stutz, a former Microsoft techie now involved in early classical music—and an HBC member—composed and produced the effort, which is being considered for widespread release. "It's a pseudo-liturgical use of mathematics and higher thinking," Stutz says. Actually, to the untrained ear it sounds like the neo-Gregorian chanting that accompanies ritual baby sacrifice in horror films.
i am sorry david stutz. i do not have an untrained ear -- i just think it is ... too schematic or something.
― remy bean, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 20:54 (eleven years ago) link
Hardcover £9 at Amazon, paperback £23. Wtf?
― stet, Saturday, 30 August 2008 00:59 (eleven years ago) link
I bought Quicksilver the week it came out. I put it aside because I thought once I started it, I wouldn't be able to stop so waited until I had a good long break. I opened it on New Year's Day and put it down after 50 pages due to excessive name-dropping and officiousness. Most disappointing.
[Daniel's] a nice piece of work. Eliza never comes together quite so well
i bought quicksilver over a month ago and it took me about four weeks of stopping and starting to get through the first book. once i got to the jack/eliza sections the going got better. confusion is a far more lively read if maybe a little lighter on ideas but i've been sucked into the series now.
i believe in eliza more than any of the others and her story is the one that gives the books their emotional heft. i can see what you mean, Dr. C, about daniel feeling real but he (has yet) to seem lovable. i always have this terrible clive james article in my head when i think about books like stephenson's and eliza feels like the kind of kate croy + a corpse character he claims can't exist.
― Lamp, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 04:04 (eleven years ago) link
Daniel comes into focus in The Confusion, I think, as he sort of realizes his own strengths and limitations. System of the World has him taking stock of these things and doing his best with them. Somewhere in the midst of all that is where he becomes lovable.
Elaborate on the Clive James thing? It sounds interesting but I can't fathom what exactly you're referring to here (corpse character?).
I like Eliza a little more on the second read, but moreso than Jack she seems saddled by the picaresque narrative - she wears so many hats and does so many things, but rather than a super-badass can-do lunkhead she's intended as a plausible human being...she makes sense to me in any given scene/subplot, but taken together it's just so much to bring together into one person.
― Doctor Casino, Monday, 15 September 2008 15:43 (eleven years ago) link
clive james wrote this article for the new yorker a couple of years ago about detective fiction where he basically claims that the narrative demands of detective fiction make a psychologically complex character unachievable. some harvard real talk about characters acting as types rather than ppl blah blah blah if henry james was a murder mystery. so, i guess my point was that eliza's actions seemed to work structurally and still feel psychologically real.
maybe that's why i didn't really like system of the world since eliza's personality is obscured in favour of daniel's pov.
― igloo silver (Lamp), Tuesday, 16 September 2008 14:47 (eleven years ago) link
most prophetic 19th Century novelist evar
― rogermexico., Wednesday, 17 September 2008 00:18 (eleven years ago) link
clive james wrote this article for the new yorker a couple of years ago about detective fiction where he basically claims that the narrative demands of detective fiction make a psychologically complex character unachievable
I actually used to teach a class in which it was demonstrated that ALL fiction is detective fiction. Good times.
On finishing up Confusion re-read - god, is Eliza's perspective ever dumped in this series! Her plots probably have more page time than either Daniel's or Jack's, through the first three-quarters of The Confusion, and then, what the hell happens to her? The seemingly really crucial moment of her and Jack coming face to face after all this time, and it's a really brief scene told in omniscient third person, maybe favoring Jack if anybody. (In general the ending to The Confusion is rushed, shocker I know, but really after all that gallivanting around the world you'd think he could linger on the actual getting-home as much as he does on the manufacture of watered steel or the primitive nature of the 17th century French credit economy...)
― Doctor Casino, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 04:33 (eleven years ago) link
I was at the new B&N in Tupelo on Thursday (2nd day in business...seems like a risky venture in such a lowbrow town) picking up Anathem, and was appalled to see that for mass market publication, the Baroque Cycle is being broken down from three hardcovers to eight paperbacks.
― Radiant Flowering Crab (Rock Hardy), Sunday, 21 September 2008 02:32 (eleven years ago) link
"clive james wrote this article for the new yorker a couple of years ago about detective fiction where he basically claims that the narrative demands of detective fiction make a psychologically complex character unachievable"--i want to read this, link?
― thomp, Sunday, 21 September 2008 06:35 (eleven years ago) link
bump for the new one. anybody else doing REAMDE?
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:47 (eight years ago) link
So far it's...a fun, techy shaggy-dog story that loves guns, maps, and MMORPGs. Stephenson can write a digression better than anybody, and I just read a fascinating 500 word treatise on the street design in Xianmin (?) city. One of his protagonists is a female African refugee, a hipster twice orphaned and raised in Iowa, who makes a living by writing code to represent the movement of magma in the underground of a virtual medieval world.
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:50 (eight years ago) link
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.
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
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
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
― 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
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
yeah i figure if ive forgotten once already I can forget again pretty effectively should i ever decide I want to read them
― ♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 5 June 2014 21:27 (five years ago) link
enoch root is a wizard
― dude (Lamp), Thursday, 5 June 2014 21:29 (five years ago) link
Still have trouble eating lobster tomalley ever since reading Zodiac xp
― 龜, Thursday, 5 June 2014 21:34 (five years ago) link
hahaha yeah the lobster thing is one of the definite "will stick with you" parts of the book.
Enoch Root is an alchemist, or alternately a wizard that is easily misinterpreted as an alchemist in the 17th century. He knows how to use the Solomonic heavier-than-normal gold to concoct a resurrection/eternal-life potion which is used successfuly on at least three other characters, shifting the books from science/historical fiction to fantasy I guess. He pokes around in history, meddling with things; his overall project isn't really explained, but his speeches in Cryptonomicon suggest it's a kind of quest to support 'Athena' over 'Ares' in Stephenson's moral universe. This seems to mean forcing the Waterhouses of the world (nebbish, apolitical thinkers) to get their hands dirty and take stands on good versus evil, and forcing the Shaftoes of the world (chaotic-neutral grunts who would, one suspects, be easily deployed by Ares) to some point of redemption, similarly pivoting them from selfish pursuits to morallly-driven quests. I think.
― Doctor Casino, Thursday, 5 June 2014 23:17 (five years ago) link
what a weird series of narrative decisions
do you remember his kickstarter, god
― ♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 6 June 2014 07:26 (five years ago) link
I'm unsure where I fall on his call for New Optimism
― Elvis Telecom, Friday, 6 June 2014 09:04 (five years ago) link
I think it's more or less meaningless tbh. I don't really think writers have obligations to society in this respect, and that the building of spaceships is more to do with funding/military advantage than it is the mood of writing.
that said, conveying wonder is a meaningful thread of the science-fiction tapestry. Robert Conquest put it well in one his poems:
Imagination that debarsThe deeps of time, the endless stars,May grow too numb to harmonizeIts own rag-doll's two button eyes.
I may be feeling slightly sour towards Stephenson at the moment - have put down Quicksilver and will never pick it up again, a thought that gives me some pleasure.
― Fizzles, Friday, 6 June 2014 09:29 (five years ago) link
― 龜, Friday, 6 June 2014 10:19 (five years ago) link
Reading the (great) analysis of Cryptonomicon in N. Katherine Hayles's (great) My Mother Was A Computer must have given me the Stephenson bug again. Picked up a paperback of Quicksilver for what I realize now must be my third reading of this monstrosity (twice in the hardbacks, which I ditched years ago). They had Reamde also but something in me wanted familiar, labyrinthine comfort food. Enjoying it tremendously, though a lot of that is just from knowing the characters and where this is all going. Kind of amazed I got through it the first time, since so much of it appears to be just period scene-setting and detail for the sake of detail, and the narrative arc is virtually invisible.
― Doctor Casino, Monday, 12 January 2015 17:45 (five years ago) link
Excerpt from his new book's up on his site now http://www.nealstephenson.com/news/2015/04/13/seveneves-excerpt/
― stet, Monday, 13 April 2015 20:57 (five years ago) link
i genuinely enjoyed the most recent book of his i read about parallel realities despite the fact that the word 'praxis' appeared on a single page of the hardcover copy i was reading six times.
― no (Lamp), Monday, 13 April 2015 22:29 (five years ago) link
seveneves: a bit better than the gun-nut one but man it was hard going as a novel sometimes. Some nice ideas, though.
― stet, Wednesday, 3 June 2015 09:18 (five years ago) link
about 2/3 of the way through. A lot of the zero-g mechanical engineering stuff could have been edited...but I'll definitely finish it
― calstars, Friday, 28 August 2015 11:38 (four years ago) link
i thought it was pretty good, definitely could've tightened up the first part which made the second seem a little rushed by contrast. reflected afterwards that i wasn't sure if i would've preferred more of the second part or none of it.
― Roberto Spiralli, Friday, 28 August 2015 13:47 (four years ago) link
wife finished it last night and loved it - guess I'll start it next
― Οὖτις, Friday, 28 August 2015 15:21 (four years ago) link
Carly Fiorina is going to get us all killed.
― Kiarostami bag (milo z), Thursday, 8 October 2015 01:15 (four years ago) link
― calstars, Thursday, 8 October 2015 01:47 (four years ago) link
― Kiarostami bag (milo z), Friday, 9 October 2015 16:06 (four years ago) link
100 pages into 'seveneves' and i've only just discovered it's not called 'seveneyes' (because seveneyes turns up no search results here)
― koogs, Friday, 2 December 2016 18:22 (three years ago) link
Love Cryptonomicon. the physical comedy in the WWII parts was my favourite part
― flopson, Friday, 2 December 2016 18:37 (three years ago) link
otm, i love those bits too
― Flamenco Drop (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 2 December 2016 23:47 (three years ago) link
Seveneves is a palindrome, I now realise. Still not sure of the relevance of this though.
― koogs, Saturday, 3 December 2016 08:47 (three years ago) link
I need to pick up Seveneves, Reamde was so dumb I just kind of tuned him out for years, which was probably unfair. But the politics of it retroactively ruined Cryptonomicon.
Anyone read Cobweb, one of those books he wrote with his uncle in the 90s? The one about terrorists?
― erry red flag (f. hazel), Wednesday, 7 December 2016 05:06 (three years ago) link
Gotta love a book that starts part 3 with "five thousand years later"
― koogs, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:26 (three years ago) link
And he's just explained the name, and I totally missed it.
― koogs, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:28 (three years ago) link
New one Dodge is out next week, but is available on Kindle now. It's back in the Waterhouse universe, post Reamde.
― stet, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:11 (ten months 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 (two months 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 (two months 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)
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 (two months 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 (two months 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 (two months 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 (two months ago) link
worst in this casewatched 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"