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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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John Percival Hackworth is a nanotech engineer on the rise when he steals a copy of "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" for his daughter Fiona. The primer is actually a super computer built with nanotechnology that was designed to educate Lord Finkle-McGraw's daughter and to teach her how to think for herself in the stifling neo-Victorian society. But Hackworth loses the primer before he can give it to Fiona, and now the "book" has fallen into the hands of young Nell, an underprivileged girl whose life is about to change. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Cyber-fiction from Stephenson, in which an engineer living in a neo-Victorian future is commissioned to write a subversive primer for girls.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
As in much of his other work, Stephenson, in The Diamond Age, crafts a complicated economic and cultural landscape with a heavy mixture of technological and dystopian overlay. Set largely in heavily populated and “tribally” stratified future Southeast Asia, the heroine of the story, Nell, an economically deprived young lady, comes into possession of a “magical” book which creates a host of new opportunities for her. Over time, her life in the magical world of the book begins to merge with that of the real world, leading to a fascinating climax.
Numerous ancillary story threads present fascinating characters and intriguing scenarios. Simply put, Stephenson is a highly intelligent, brilliant story teller whose science fiction is among the best I’ve ever read. This novel is certainly no exception.
Confused? Stand by for Stepenson standard debates about machine intelligence, the genesis of the soul, and the social roles and obligations of those who spawn technology.
Great fun with more insider jokes than you can poke a stick at.
Stephenson has the social insight of Stirling, the vision of Gibson, the historical tech perspective of James Burke, and the technical chops of a modern day hacker.
I loved the style. Those long and overcomplicated Victorian sentences, with a trace of sarcasm hidden inside... all that combined with the really vivid and detailed descriptions from everyday scenes to glimmering airships. It's also an interesting take on technology, not of the really realistic sort, but nevertheless interesting.
And yet: it felt as if everything was set up artificially, and characters kind of... followed their roles, instead of actually thinking. And this happened in expense of things feeling... real? Example (from the beginning of the book, to avoid spoilers): bigger brother shows little sister how "matter compilers" work. It feels all mysterious in the beginning, then brother goes away, sister plays around and figures it out... it's the perfect way to show the readers that yes, this is the technology they have, look how cool it is. But... can you imagine such a scene in real life? It was in their kitchen wall for ages! Seriously, does anyone have childhood memories of being suddenly awed by how water taps work? As opposed to thinking of them as the most natural thing of the world?
The entire book is full with such things. Things happen because they are needed for things to progress, but you never see anyone think "oops, I have no idea what to do". You never see anyone think, period. They are just going through prescribed thought processes, demonstrating some profound-sounding ideas that you may or may not agree with.
After a while I just stopped caring about what happens to the human-like entities inside. And just for the interesting scenes it was a bit too long.
Most recent customer reviews
Entertaining. It transports the reader to a different world. Something Neil Stephenson can often do very well. A pleasure.