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The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book) Paperback – May 2, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
On the Earth of the Diamond Age, mankind has developed and perfected the concept of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is based around the concept of using microscopic computers to allow people to literally make anything possible. Often times, the tricky part of designing an object is making it heavier than air so it won't float away. Matter compilers can create any object with the proper program, and a pair of wooden chopsticks has flashing advertisements running up and down their sides. As backlash to this technological heaven, the elite members of society borrow their culture from the British during the Victorian era. These Victorians -or Vicky's, as some derogatorily refer to them- place value in items that are hand made, and pay exorbitant amounts of money for such items.
This novel varies from many typical science fiction novels, in that its focus is not on the technology or the rich, but rather on a single girl from a dysfunctional family in one of the poorest parts of the world. Nell, comes across one of three copies of the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, a book of sorts intended to educate a young girl. This book, while itself not a technological marvel, displays a true ingenuity in its content, as any good book.Read more ›
1) The ending is abrupt and leaves major storylines unresolved.
2) The book is not light reading. It reminds me of the old Far Side cartoons which were hilarious to some but incomprehensible to others.
3) The peek at a possible future is excellent, especially the use of nanotechnology.
Most of the reviews speak of the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" as a book that teaches a girl how to survive on the streets and to be an independent thinker. What they don't mention, and what I think is vital, is that one of the main themes in the design of the book was "subversion". The book was meant to guide a young girl on her path to becoming a free-thinking and subversive woman. Such a person would inevitably become a force, either positive or negative, in the book's rigid society.
Having read 3 of Mr. Stephenson's books (Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, and Diamond Age), I must agree that each one has a somewhat abrupt ending -- although Diamond Age seems to be the worst. In general, Mr. Stephenson tends to leave storylines open and let the reader's imagination take over. While this is a valid literary style, it quickly gets annoying.
While Diamond Age may not have been a straight cyberpunk novel, the environment is certainly similar to what you see in William Gibson's Neuromancer. In essence, future society has broken down into "tribes" with a significant barrier dividing the upper and lower classes. The story contains quite a bit of the Oriental class (caste?) system that you see in cyberpunk, and it also adds a Victorian class system that isn't much different.Read more ›
The story itself is intriguing. The main focus is on Nell, a little girl in possession of an interactive Primer that not only teaches her but also nurtures her in the absence of parents or loved ones. But really, it's an ensemble tale (it's no accident that a reviewer compares Stephenson to Quentin Tarantino, who creates incredibly complex ensemble films). It's also about Miranda, who provides the nurturing quality in the Primer. It's about Elizabeth, who has a Primer of her own. It's about Harv, Nell's brother. It's about the society they live in. Ultimately, this is where the book falls short of the high standards set in "Snow Crash."
After all, "Snow Crash" has a similar format, a number of subplots all converging in the end to reach a final, stunning (perhaps too stunning) conclusion. What's the difference between them? I cared about all of the subplots in "Snow Crash" and all of the characters in them. I was as wrapped up in them as I was in Hiro Protagonist, the focal point of the book. I didn't feel the same way with "Diamond Age." I cared about Nell, yes, but the other characters were secondary to her. I really didn't care about what happened to them. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time learning about them; they're central to the plot.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think this is Neal's masterpiece. This is an fantastic book that I have read several times.Published 3 days ago by Wendy Busby
Great book! At times it can get a bit hazy as to where Neal is taking everything, but it is well worth a read.Published 20 days ago by Stephen Deck
Stephenson once again took me on a journey that twisted and turned yet held me in thrall.
More than once I despaired of finding my way out of the maze of the plot (plots) but... Read more
My favorite book. By far. I'm into SciFi, heady stuff usually. Others include Kafka on the Shore, The Dark Tower series, The Foundation series, The Golden Compass, Fire Upon The... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael
The end felt rushed, and the notion of ethnic phyles frustratingly backward from our present perspective. Worth reading for his vision of the nanotech future.Published 1 month ago by S. Julian
If you want to have your hand held through a narrative, this is not the book for you. If you want to take an unguided tour through a fascinating, imaginative world of high... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Peter Christensen
Probably my favorite story of all time. The "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" is the perfect book. One of those books that just makes me happy to read, over and over. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer