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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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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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.
Like William Gibson's "Count Zero", the Diamond Age flows through multiple characters' lives as their individual stories slowly converge together. The focal point of the story is a little girl named Nell and a big book called "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer." The book is a deft act of subterfuge: an interactive story designed to be given to a little girl, to slowly shape her character and subtly guide her through her formative years. The trouble is, Nell is the wrong girl...only no one in this world needs it more than she.
It would take a long time to describe the many, many facets of Stephenson's future, but each is fascinating, and each is depicted in that manner-of-fact, "This is how things are" way that marks the Cyberpunk genre. In short, you will see how microscopic bio/technical engineering dramtically changes the way technology fills people's lives. You get a worldwide 'net written prior to the advent of the World Wide Web, yet spot on about how people will relate to each other. Thow in some very unusual cultures--urban Chinese rubbing shoulders with steampunk-like latter-day Victorians--and you have a very odd mix that somehow really seems to feel like you'd imagine these cultures would behave.
For all its amazing scenery and gripping action, there are flaws to The Diamond Age. The novel seems to accelerate towards the end, only to end on a full stop. It proposes an idea of human-technology convergence that I find distasteful. Stephenson creates societies that seem highly improbable, in the name of painting an interesting picture. A reader who can forgive these flaws will still find a lot to enjoy in the Diamond Age--and if you're like me, it will really stimulate those cognitive wheels in your head to start turning. Highly original, very inventive, and still relevant reading today.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Entertaining. It transports the reader to a different world. Something Neil Stephenson can often do very well. A pleasure.