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Neal Stephenson
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Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  976 ratings  ·  178 reviews
One of the most talented and creative authors working today, Neal Stephenson is renowned for his exceptional novels—works colossal in vision and mind-boggling in complexity. Exploring and blending a diversity of topics, including technology, economics, history, science, pop culture, and philosophy, his books are the products of a keen and adventurous intellect. Not surpris ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by William Morrow
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Leave it to Neal Stephenson to publish a collection of essays that cover everything from office furniture to the metaphysical theories of Gottfried Leibniz. (I found the office furniture one more enjoyable.)

The thing about Stephenson is that once he gets interested in a subject, he is going to write the shit out of it and leave no idea unexplored. It’s what makes him unique and his skill is usually enough to get the reader to go along for the ride. But even a fan like myself started getting seri
Jun 27, 2012 Bryan marked it as to-read-5-planning-on-it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
Would I read a collection of Neal Stephenson's best grocery lists? I think perhaps I would!
Neal Stephenson existed to me entirely through his novels before, since he doesn't have any of the modern authorial infrastructure – no twitter, no blog, no Goodreads, etc. And apparently I had come to a number of conclusions about him based entirely on his books, which is one of those things we like to pretend we don't do, but, I mean, come on. I figured this out when I was trudging through the opening salvos of this book and thought, ug, what a fucking asshole, with a complete lack of surprise ...more
I'm very forgiving of essay collections by my favorite authors. Even though in some ways it feels like cheating, I've often not read the essays, so what do I care if they get the cheap revenue? The Stephenson is not the best essay collection I've read, many of the stories are old and feel dated, but there is enough here by a great writer that it is worth reading for any fan. The vast majority of the book is from Mother Earth, Motherboard. A huge article he wrote for Wired in 1996. Don't be scare ...more
chris tierney
A lot of the material in this collection can be found online*. (The longest piece is a reprint of Mother Earth, Mother Board, which is not only available online but has also been reprinted in the kindle edition of Cryptonomicon.) The new material is good, but not very long, so whether it makes sense for you to read this or not is going to depend on how much of it you've already read, how much you value the convenience of having all the pieces in one place, and/or how much you enjoy re-reading. I ...more
My wife asked me what I was reading at one point when I was in the midst of this book, and I said, An essay collection, and then I explained that I was halfway through a 120-page-long piece about fiber optic cable and what's involved with laying it across oceans. That sounded to her like the most boring topic imaginable, but I loved reading about, and mostly because it was written by Neal Stephenson.

He is the supreme leader of finding the fascinating minutiae of technology and conveying his inte
Chris Hellstrom
Perfect for a fan like me (but you can get most of this material online.)I love "Why I am a bad correspondent" "The quality of my e-mails and public speaking is, in my view, nowhere near that of my novels. So for me it comes down to the following choice: I can distribute material of bad-to-mediocre quality to a small number of people, or I can distribute material of higher quality to more people. But I can't do both; the first one obliterates the second."
Luciano Zorzetto
You can read this rather enjoyable collection
- if you're a fan of Mr Stephenson: you'll be curious to hear him ponder about many an issue, mostly technological. Some older material will be meh, some will be well-rounded and pleasant. He talks with an admiration you can feel about the world of the Baroque Cycle; he sheds a light on his vision of science fiction, or rather speculative fiction as he names it one speech. He edited some of the meh stuff because he cares.
- if you're a geek: Mr Stephen
Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson is a collection of essays, one sentence from a novel that he never finished, and a few short stories. I’m not the typical audience for this book as I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, nor science-y essays. As a result, I read a bit of the most recent essays in the collection, the introduction, and the short fiction pieces, plus the one sentence to the novel. I can say that I see why he never went further with his novel; it wasn’t very attention grabbing for me, but ...more
Jukka Särkijärvi
Some Remarks was, to be honest, a disappointment. As the foreword implies, it feels like it was published because "it's the thing to do" at this point during an author's career to put out a compilation of their shorter works. The result is an uneven mix of interviews, short stories and some essays.

The problem with tech journalism is that it does not age well, and a full third of the volume is taken up by "Mother Board, Mother Earth", a long article about undersea cable. While I figure that the b
Paul Gleason
From its bland title to what Stephenson admits in his "Introduction," Some Remarks is a very weak collection of Stephenson's short writings.

The collection covers Stephenson's entire career as a writer, and some of its material goes back roughly twenty years. This means that many of the essays are out of date.

Stephenson also makes the mistake of including what I think is an unpublished introduction to David Foster Wallace's book on infinity, Everything and More. (I own the first edition hardback
The Best Essay Collection from 2012 Courtesy of Neal Stephenson

Without a doubt, Neal Stephenson may be the most pensive, most expansive, writer of my generation, and these are traits he shows abundantly in his recent essay collection, “Some Remarks”, that also include several terse short stories he has written over the years. Stephenson’s writing is expansive in the sense that it covers many topics at once, which is why, for example, his “Baroque Cycle” trilogy is a compelling fictional explorat
Geoffrey Benn
“Some Remarks,” by Neil Stephenson, is a collection of the author’s short writings and interviews. It is also a bit of an odd starting place for someone who has never read a Neil Stephenson novel – collected works generally being what people turn to after having exhausted all of the novels by a particular author. I read this on the recommendation of a friend, who particularly recommended “Mother Earth, Mother Board,” by far the longest essay in the book. I can now pass on that recommendation – “ ...more
This is a collection of some previously published articles by Stephenson, essays, lectures and a few fiction pieces as well.

It's a trek through the Stephenson mind, where one is never sure what's around the corner. He touches on politics, writing, sci fi as mainstream, and the future of literature and publishing. I particularly enjoyed his mini-fascination with an prolonged disagreement between Newton and Leibniz.

One of the longer pieces describes his adventures following several companies busy
A fun, mostly unremarkable read. Full of Stephenson's typical deep (deep deep) introspection and ranging in topics: fiction about private currency that sounds astoundingly like Bitcoin; analyses of how historical theories about the nature of the universe hold up to (or are supported by) modern science; a one-sentence story about a serial killer on the loose in Tolkien's Shire; excerpts of interviews; a five page description of the author's epic battles with William Gibson, etc. etc.

His commentar
Regina Nunley
I just saw Mr. Stephenson at Skylight Books in Los Fe, he is a marvelous commentator on our unreal reality and technology and being a (now cool) nerd/geek...I related to his view of people like myself who used to be despised and now are cool, because FINALLY smart is good...plan to read it after I finish plowing through the last 2 novels I purchased to read over the summer...can't wait...he is very astute and hilarious!! I am a teacher, and find I love being read to by talented authors such as h ...more
I have read only two of Neal Stephenson's novels ( Snow Crash and The Diamond Age ) but I loved them both immensely. I would consider them both to be five-star novels. They are, in fact, two of the best science-fiction novels I've ever read. The ideas within them (which even Stephenson acknowledges--in the book I'm commenting on now--is what really counts) are mind-blowing, but the characters are not your average sci-fi novel characters. They're real people, like the kind you'd find in "litera ...more
Ric Glowienka
Having read a number of Neil's books, its fun to hear his voice come out in this collection. I learned about Leibniz and Ames Iowa, both of which I knew a little bit about. There is a particularly long section in the middle about the laying of new transcontinental data cables - fiber optic. It's amazing how something so critical to 1990's telecommunications can seem so quaint 20 years later. On to the Baroque Cycle!
This is a collection of several essays/articles/musings by Neal Stephenson. Some I did not understand what he was getting at, hence only 3 stars. For me, the value of the book was in the article for Wired Magazine on the history, current state, and possible futures of the submarine cables that link us all together and yet are surprisingly rare and fragile. The history includes some interesting characters (J.J.Thompson, aka Lord Kelvin) and some present day buccaneers who go around the world, mak ...more
James Cardona
Stephenson, as most who have read his novels would agree, is a person who can take a boring subject, research it to death, then write about it in a snappy, funny and informative way that makes it engaging and entertaining.

Unfortunately, much of this collection of essays covers his earlier work (1992 to 1994) which comes across as dated and frankly not that good. If you are interested in his development as a writer, than this may be interesting stuff for you to mine.

The other potion of the book i
Neal Stephenson is mostly known for writing big books, so the idea of a set of essays (with a couple of short stories thrown in for good measure) was attractive. To be honest, it's a mixed bag. I really found myself floundering in Metaphysics in the Royal Society which (I think!) was about Newton and Leibniz and their differing philosophies.

On the other hand, the longest piece in the book, the Wired article Mother Earth, Mother Board is excellent, compelling and well worth the read. That is ab
Duffy Pratt
It's the digressions without any of that annoying plot. Stephenson's essays are typically interesting and amusing, and they dwell on whatever happens to interest him. Fortunately, he has a knack for making me, at least temporarily, interested in his own fascinations. Who else could get me through an essay over 100 pages long on the submarine cable business. Furthermore, since this book basically is nothing but the digressions, it allows Stephenson to get into second order and meta-digressions, s ...more
Gertjan Kuiper
Aanrader voor zowel hardcore Stephenson fans als voor wie geinteresseerd is beschouwingen over hedendaagse cultuur. Terechte erkenning voor nerd-ness, echte fans, en al die schrijvers die gewoon kunnen leven van hun werk. Maar voor de meesten net zo buitenbeeld als de tieners die massa's fans op Youtube hebben.
Meh. I've generally loved Neal Stephenson's work for a long time, but about the time Anathem came out was when shit started to slide, and let us never speak of Reamde.

I attacked this book hoping to rekindle my enjoyment of his works, and while there were a few pieces that were great, the work was weighed down by an extremely lengthy treatise on the laying of submarine cables, and some of his notable short fiction was left out -- "Jipi and the Paranoid Chip", for example. (Stephenson in the intro
Alex Jones
This is really hard to review, as there is so much content of such varied quality. In short, it is a collection of writings (fiction and nonfiction) by Neal Stephenson and he's a really darn intelligent guy.

Well over a third of it (120 pages) is taken up by a long essay about a long wire, FLAG. I was surprised by how interesting I found it and how readable it was, but at the end of the day it was still a lot of book about a wire. Three stars. There were two short stories, one of which I didn't f
Calvin Powers
Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson collects some of his noteworthy interviews, magazine article, and a couple of short fiction pieces. There isn't much of an overall theme or idea tying them all together. Each item is stand-alone.

The longest item in the collection is "In The Kingdom of Mao Bell," in which Stephenson tells the story of the construction of the world longest telephone cable. Stephenson really gets into both the grit and and science of such a large undertaking. You get both an insight
An enjoyable collection. I liked his range, and his tone of intelligent reasonableness. Some of his topics were more interesting to me than others, as one would expect, but the mark of a good essayist is one who can make his reader interested in things that didn't seem interesting at the start, and Stephenson clears that hurdle almost effortlessly (exception: the never-ending piece on underseas cables, which was just way, way too long).

Some of the pieces were fun because they filled out bits fro
The last entry in this collection is very well chosen. It's called "Why I am a bad correspondent" and in it, Stephenson, all the way back in 1998, explains why he doesn't do more public talks and why he generally does not correspond with readers. One reason, he writes, is that he needs big slabs of uninterrupted time to write his novels, but the other one is more interesting: he says that reading a book you like makes you think you connect with the author, but the author as they are perceived th ...more
Kind of like my kitchen junk drawer, this book is full of fascinating, semi-useful, basically unrelated items. There is some fiction, including a deeply funny one-sentence short story, but mostly there are essays, and these have exactly the depth and breadth of interests that one expects from Stephenson.

For instance he writes lucidly about high/low culture distinctions and the place of speculative fiction within that. He also writes about the Star Wars prequels: "These newer films don't even pr
I checked this book out of the library for my boyfriend, but I renewed it when he was done because I was curious, and then I grabbed it on my way out the door one day when I wasn't sure what I was in the mood to read: I'd recently finished reading a novel and I'd gotten caught up on issues of The New Yorker, and a book of essays and short fiction seemed just right.

Which it sort of was. Some of these pieces are readable and fun, like the first essay, Arsebestos, about the dangers of sitting and
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
More about Neal Stephenson...
Snow Crash Cryptonomicon The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer Anathem Reamde

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