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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] has gotten even better. The Diamond Age Envisions the next century as brilliantly as snow crash did the day after tomorrow."—Newsweek
"[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
In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson took science fiction to dazzling new levels. Now, in The Diamond Age, he delivers another stunning tale. Set in twenty-first century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens when a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life-and the entire future of humanity-is about to be decoded and reprogrammed....
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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'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.
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.
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!