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Some Remarks

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3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  1,312 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
“Neal Stephenson has made a name for himself as a writer whose imagination knows no limits.”
Salon

#1 New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson is, quite simply, one of the best and most respected writers alive. He’s taken sf to places it’s never been (Snow Crash, Anathem). He’s reinvented the historical novel (The Baroque Cycle), the international thriller (Reamde)
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Published August 7th 2012 by HarperAudio
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kemper
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
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Bryan
Jun 27, 2012 Bryan marked it as to-read-5-planning-on-it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Would I read a collection of Neal Stephenson's best grocery lists? I think perhaps I would!
Kasey
Jul 30, 2012 Kasey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Aug 09, 2012 chris tierney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, m
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
Mark
Jun 25, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Miles
Dec 14, 2015 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neal Stephenson’s Some Remarks is a highly stimulating read from my favorite living author. This collection of essays and short fiction sheds light on Stephenson’s personal background, writing methods, and modes of information synthesis. As always, we are treated to a very special version of the world––one seen through the eyes of an author who has carefully surrounded himself with some of the most intelligent, curious and capable humans on Earth (and who happens to be one of them himself).

Spann
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Christopher 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."
John
Jun 14, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay-collection
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
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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
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Serena
Aug 26, 2012 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jim
Mar 02, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-npl, sci-fi, nextatnpl
Reading Mother Earth , Mother Board a longread from 1996 about data cable infrastructure which is at points tedious but i am being rewarded by paragraphs like these

During the 1980s, when Americans started to get freaked out about Japan again, we heard a great deal about Japanese corporations’ patient, long-term approach to R&D and how vastly superior it was to American companies’ stupid, short-term approach. Since American news media are at least as stupid and short-term as the big corporat
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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
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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
Michael
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
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Scotchneat
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
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Sarah
Mar 01, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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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
Ninakix
Mar 28, 2015 Ninakix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-2015
A really lovely collection of essays and short stories. A really nice collection tells its own stories over the course of its pages. Much of the middle of this book is taken up by an epic article, essay, thing?, about laying down undersea cables. Which is a notable and great piece of writing. One forgets that the Internet, and all of these ideas, are grounded in the physical and the messy. That essay pays homage to that.
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!
Florin Pitea
Jun 16, 2015 Florin Pitea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A riveting collection of essays, short stories and articles by a very appreciated science fiction writer. From Leibniz's philosophy to telecom cable laying, from interviews to book introductions, from short stories to the role of science fiction in Western civilization, "Some Remarks" covers a variety of issues in a style which is both accessible and entertaining. Recommended.
Gertjan Kuiper
May 25, 2013 Gertjan Kuiper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ian
Oct 24, 2016 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review is biased. I just like this guy.
Seth Madej
Feb 08, 2017 Seth Madej rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who, like me, wants to be smart will listen to Some Remarks in a constant state of admiration for Neal Stephenson's curiosity, or the breadth of topics he demonstrates an understanding about, or his astounding ability to retain information about those topics, or his equally astounding ability to think critically about them, or how he used that critical thinking to accurately predict the future in stories written decades ago. Anyone who, like me, is not as smart as they want to be, should ...more
Alan
Jun 19, 2013 Alan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Completists
Recommended to Alan by: Previous and subsequent work
Unfortunately, I can see why Some Remarks was remaindered, and why I had not heard much about it, before I found it on the shelves at Powell's. Don't get me wrong—I still found much of Some Remarks engrossing—but I can still see how many readers, expecting another Anathem or Snow Crash, might've been disappointed. Stephenson likes to use the word "birfucated"—it shows up in several of these pieces. So, applied to his own work, Some Remarks falls on the other side of the birfurcation—it is by no ...more
Heather
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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Aaron Arnold
I've been a big Neal Stephenson fan since high school; his particular blend of sci-fi, history, politics, and action - all classic nerd interests - is right up my alley, even if I haven't always agreed with him on every particular pronouncement or ideological point. I used to hunt down his non-novel writings, and this particular collection of 18 odds and ends - a mix of his short fiction, magazine articles, interviews, essays, and rants all together - should just about do it for the hardcore Ste ...more
Tahlia Ewing
Jun 21, 2013 Tahlia Ewing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of SF
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fred Hughes
Mar 09, 2017 Fred Hughes rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bunch of musings and random thoughts that should have remained just that. Putting them into a book adds nothing. They are just passing fancies.

This author has written some exceptional literary works but this was a total waste on ink.
Paolo Jose Cruz
Neal Stephenson’s Some Remarks comprises a mishmash of feature articles, Q&As, op-ed style pieces, and short fiction that covers his writing career to date. Many of his pet themes are represented, including the history of computers, the relationship between science and imagination, and the cultural effects of global telecommunications. What makes the content here so refreshing is how jarringly concise it is. According to the wordsmith’s own introduction, this uncharacteristic brevity was mea ...more
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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.
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“The Victorian era was an age of superlatives and larger-than-life characters, and as far as that goes, Dr. Wildman Whitehouse fit right in: what Victoria was to monarchs, Dickens to novelists, Burton to explorers, Robert E. Lee to generals, Dr. Wildman Whitehouse was to assholes. The only 19th-century figure who even comes close to him in this department is Custer.” 3 likes
“SF does possess at least two of the classic markers of genrehood, namely intellectual disreputability and moral salaciousness. SF thrives because it is idea porn.” 2 likes
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