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Interface Paperback – May 31, 2005
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"A Manchurian Candidate for the computer age" * Seattle Weekly * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
From his triumphant debut with "Snow Crash to the stunning success of his latest novel, "Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson has quickly become the voice of a generation. In this now-classic thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a shocking tale with an all-too plausible premise.
There's no way William A. Cozzano can lose the upcoming presidential election. He's a likable midwestern governor with one insidious advantage--an advantage provided by a shadowy group of backers. A biochip implanted in his head hardwires him to a computerized polling system. The mood of the electorate is channeled directly into his brain. Forget issues. Forget policy. Cozzano is more than the perfect candidate. He's a special effect.
"Complex, entertaining, frequently funny.""--Publishers Weekly
"Qualifies as the sleeper of the year, the rare kind of science-fiction thriller that evokes genuine laughter while simultaneously keeping the level of suspense cranked to the max.""-- San Diego Union-Tribune
"A "Manchurian Candidate for the computer age." "--Seattle Weekly
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The only downside to this book is that it does get a little bit conspiracy theory-ish with the mind control, and some parts of the book are outdated based on the current medical and political framework, but I still enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.
One of the key concepts in the book is the impact of visual media on us: How we can be manipulated by what we see; how over time we've developed a preference for soundbites and images. We don't take the time to really become informed about complex issues. I've never met Neal Stephenson, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to consider that the book was written in a style to emphasize those points. Many (maybe all) of the characters are written as cliches. They're supposed to be. Character development and plotlines have been trimmed so that they sound more like a movie treatment than his normal descriptive style. Intentionally. The plot has some implausibilities. I'll bet they're on purpose too. We're invited to be in on the joke.
The chapter that introduces the protagonist (Cozzano) is classic Stephenson, reframed for a visual medium: We learn all of Cozzano's back story through a description of the character's cluttered office. It is filled with personal mementos, and the longest descriptions are of a host of personal photographs and what they represent to the character. We learn everything we need to know by "viewing" these images.
Neal Stephenson is a talented writer, across several genres and formats. When he tackles big, complex concepts (like economics) his stories unfold across years, continents and multiple characters' lives. The Baroque Cycle had to be that long and dense to address the topic. At the other end of the spectrum, I really enjoy reading his blog posts. This one is somewhere in the middle, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.