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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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"[Stephenson is] the hottest science fiction writer in America. . . . Snow Crash is without question the biggest SF novel of the 1990s. Neal's SF novel, The Diamond Age, promises more of the same. Together, they represent a new era in science fiction. People who plow through these mind-bogglers will walk around slack-jawed for days and reemerge with a radically redefined sense of reality."—Details
"Neal Stephenson is the Quentin Tarantino of postcyberpunk science fiction. . . . Having figured out how to entertain the hell out of a mass audience, Stephenson has likewise upped the form's ante with rambunctious glee."—Village Voice
"Snow Crash drew its manic energy from the cyberpunkish conceit that anything is possible in virtual reality; in The Diamond Age the wonders of cyberspace pale before the even more dazzling powers of nanotechnology."—New York Times Book Review
"Diamond Age establishes Neal Stephenson as a powerful voice for the cyber age. . . . At once whimsical, satirical, and cautionary."—USA Today
"Stephenson's world-building skills are extraordinary. . . . The Diamond Age should cement Stephenson's reputation as one of the brightest and wittiest young authors of American science fiction."—San Diego Union-Tribune
From the Inside Flap
- Publisher : Spectra; Reprint edition (May 2, 2000)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 499 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0553380966
- ISBN-13 : 978-0553380965
- Item Weight : 13.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.18 x 1.03 x 8.16 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #43,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I've read it five times now, and Nell's journey from abused child to [spoilers] is something that never ceases to enthrall
The characters that drive and interweave with her story are intricate, bizarre and original.
The problem with the book (and the reason why it's really not for everyone) is that some of the writing is close to impenetrable: Neal Stephenson has a habit of using the most arcane words to describe mundane items, and of going off on utterly bizarre tangents that generally distract from, rather than enhance the story.
All that said, if I had a few spare million in the bank, I'd kick down every door I could to buy the TV rights to this. The book itself is in two parts, which would transition perfectly in to series 1 & 2 of a Netflix style production; with a series 3 begging to be extrapolated from "what happens next".
If you don't mind a challenging read then this story is amazing.
First, this is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. It starts with three separate plot lines that are not strong enough to stand alone, so you just know they are going to come together. To his credit, Stephenson maintains the suspense of how they will come together quite well. The character development is mixed. Some of the characters are well formed with flaws and all the aspects of a real human personality. Others tend to get more caricature treatment, even though they are not bit players in the plotline.
Mostly, the characters and imagery is solid. This is what I like about Stephenson's writing. He uses a broad pallet in his writing that shows deep skill as a writer along with artistic flourishes that send me regularly to the dictionary to learn about some arcane word that I've never seen before. Some would find this annoying. Why use an obscure word when an average, everyday one will do? Because, it adds color and flair and that's what makes good writing.
The Diamond Age feels at once historical and futuristic. That's not an easy thing to do, but Stephenson does it beautifully. Maybe that's why I keep coming back. If you're reading this review, the plotline probably already got your attention. Go ahead, jump in, the water is fine!
prophetic. Some reviews have said it was a difficult read but it is actually a highly nuanced read. Stephenson is writing on many levels about the complexity of global economics, technologies and cultures and the impact of the "haves" on the "have-nots".
The book is part steampunk, part Dickensian and part fairy tale but they are all interwoven very well. Since there is no glossary provided it would seem the writer did not want the reader to get bogged down wondering what certain things were but to infer what they might be via context. Important "unknowns" are eventually defined or described in detail although not always when first introduced into the storyline so a "leap of faith" is sometimes required.
This is a book for readers who like subtlety and who appreciate an author who has an imagination to flex and ideas to explore and develop, it is not a point A to point B plot at all. Invest the time-it is definitely worth it.
I have two quibbles:
1. The story arc, its length and complexity, led me to expect a bigger and more explosive climax. The end seemed slightly abrupt to me.
2. Some character development seemed weakly linked to character importance in the story. Some characters, whose contribution to the story seemed secondary, got quite a bit of space. Other characters, who played a role in the story's climax and resolution, were introduced later and more casually.
Those critiques aside, this is an excellent book. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to my friends.
Top reviews from other countries
He also has an annoying habit of overusing captain words such as "vast", and to call some characters by one name and others by their full name, such as Carl Hollywood; which is irritating as we know who he means.
Nanotech is obviously so young as a technology that he can speculate as much as he likes, but here he treats it as a quick fix to allow his story avoid roadblocks.
It's the first of his books that I'm not sure I'm glad to have read.
I was disappointed with this. The first part was incredibly slow and I was close to giving up before the story properly got underway. It felt like the author was more interested in his own cleverness (eg using obscure words) than in telling a story.
If I had to criticise, the chinese characters are often quite stereotypical, and typos do start to creep in towards the end of the book. There also seems some ambiguity as to whether the reader of the Primer can effectively go back a few moves, or is committed to any decision she makes.
You have to enjoy luxuriating in a book like this, and certainly there is a huge amount here to savour. It could have been a third of the length, but then you would miss so much good stuff. The narrative picks up the pace towards the conclusion, and I was thinking about a five star marking. But for me, the actual ending felt a little too abrupt, with a few too many loose ends.
Well worth reading and re-reading.
Author Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle) harnesses the power of storytelling to tell a story about the power of storytelling. The Primer is a kind of interactive Brothers Grimm, revealing to Nell the dark archetypes of the human experience and giving her the tools to cope via ever more sophisticated parables. As ever with Stephenson, this is far more than science fiction, though he delights in the extrapolation and potential of technologies - this is myth employed as Jung saw it, as revelation, as route to self-actualisation and ultimately, as Princess Nell leads her unstoppable army into a Shanghai in flames, of paradigm cultural change.
The Diamond Age is also a meaty, multi-layered read with startling imagery, lucid characterisation and Stephenson's trademark wryly-observed wit. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.
From a comment by the head of a corporation / country that "the most successful people have had _interesting_ lives", comes "A young lady's illustrated primer", an interactive book that, in short, challenges and educates its reader.
We follow the adventures of Nell and the other characters in the book in a futuristic world, not too far from what we may be living in within a few decades. The "Victorians", as they are called, aren't too far from our contemporary steampunk movement, for one.
Altogether a great adventure, with intriguing characters, in a world that never ceases to surprise. And in which I can't help but want to live.