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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.
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My problem with it is the use of a techno-hippie-sex-cult-cum-hivemind. It was unnecessary and unnecessarily disturbing, and made the novel too much for me. The mechanic and utility of the hivemind was cool, but yikes. The only sex in the book is abusive or demented sex.
The protagonists flow in and out of the book, many of them leaving us wondering how much we actually like any of them, except for the main protagonist, and the end is unsatisfying. Many people dislike this about the book, and I do too, somewhat, but in a sense, for how it ends, it is the perfect dystopian ending. Everything goes to poo, and geopolitical history repeats itself. Although you are wondering, "yeah, but... what about John? And what the hell is Nell going to do? And that's it, they're just not going to do the final calculations?", I kind of get it. It's a happy personal ending in a bucket-of-poo-world, where video-game, messiaistic world mechanics of ultimate power (see Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson) don't come to fruition. Touche, Monsieur Stephenson, I do respect you for that.
The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is the overly abrupt ending. It just doesn't sit well at the end of a Victorian Novel. Victorian novels have an epilogue, and I really wanted to read one here, even if I could work out what was likely to happen.
I've seen a lot of people complain that the book contains too many made up words. This isn't actually true. What it does contain is a fair spattering of very rarely used words, that you might need to look up in a sufficiently large dictionary. And this is very much in keeping with the Victorian Style.
Most recent customer reviews
Entertaining. It transports the reader to a different world. Something Neil Stephenson can often do very well. A pleasure.