Mike's Reviews > Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson
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Sep 21, 2012

really liked it
Read from September 20 to 21, 2012

If you haven't already figured out from my favorites shelf, I lurve Neal Stephenson. I think there's nobody like him except maybe Terry Pratchett. (Someone once told me I had it in me to become "the new Neal Stephenson" and I still think it's the highest praise I've ever received. Granted, I am pretty sure they were mad drunk at the time but I like to think that it still counts.)

Given this, I was a bit worried when Reamde dropped, as it seemed his sure hand was starting to slip. I bought Anathem, but it's been sitting under a bunch of other books. When I blew through B&N while waiting for the family to finish shopping (as always), I saw this and paused for a moment. Yeah, I thought, it's new Neal Stephenson, but what about that collection of William Gibson essays that you bought? What about that Malcolm Gladwell collection?

It took me a few seconds to say "screw it, it's Neal Stephenson," and I am glad that I did. Stephenson seems to have a better focus in this compared to Gibson and Gladwell - granted, he does have his preferred dead horses for beating (where Gibson has Japan/otaku and the Internet, Stephenson has literary vs genre fiction and space travel), but that doesn't detract from the overall quality here. "Mother Earth Mother Board" is the crown jewel, a fascinating, long piece about transocean cabling. "Arsebestos" is a fresh take on the sitting-is-bad-for-you situation, something I thought I had long since grown tired of. I felt pretty guilty that I couldn't keep up with the piece on metaphyiscs, Newton, and Leibniz; however, this was assuaged by the short fiction studded throughout. "Spew" is sort of forgettable and feels like it's missing a real ending; however, this is more than made up for by "The Great Simoleon Caper" which seems to nicely bridge the gap between Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash (which you better go read right now, since this review's over).
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