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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.
More About the Author
Born in Fort Meade, Maryland (home of the NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum) Stephenson came from a family comprising engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.
Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic "The Baroque Cycle" (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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
The first chapter was full of profane and non-sensical words. I didn't read past the first chapter, so maybe I'm not qualified to rate it. It wasn't my type of book.Published 11 days ago by JamieGamer
Well-paced, absorbing story with excellent characters. The neo-Victorian steampunk theme is a bit distracting at first, but ends up tightly woven into a believable world.Published 18 days ago by M. Speers
This is the first of Neal Stephenson's books that I have read. It was great, it won't be my last.Published 25 days ago by Mark H
I would have liked to see better representation of the Celestial Kingdom, and the narrative leaves a distracting number of moral touchstones overturned, but this vision of the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ari Nadin
In light of the subsequent development of an "A.I." Barbie doll that is purported to be about to hit the consumer market; this book is actually
prophetic. Read more
It really should be 4 and a half. This book stayed with me, I still think about it years after I read it. The book itself can be dense and yes the ending was a bit abrupt. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kelso
It was a challenging read but well worth it. A great story, interesting characters, and a clear and fascinating vision of a future that holds up even after decades have passed.Published 2 months ago by nereids