Kemper's Reviews > Some Remarks

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Aug 15, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, essays, non-fiction, short-stories
Read from August 15 to 23, 2012

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 seriously bored with the loooooooooonnnnnnngggggggggg essay that is Stephenson’s account from the ‘90s of following the laying of a new fiber optic cable around the world mixed in with the history of undersea cables and a look at the technical, economic and political factors that go into such a project. There were points where it was interesting and very funny (Stephenson comes up with one of the most creative ways to call someone an asshole that I’ve ever read.), but after a while it’s just too much to absorb.

There was still a lot I liked in this. The stuff he does about science fiction and genre labeling brought up a lot of great points I hadn’t considered. There’s a hilarious bit in answer to the question of who would win in a fight between himself and William Gibson that begins with Stephenson’s assertion that he and Gibson have fought three times and then goes into descriptions of their on-going battles that would make for a pretty good comic book.

Like all of his recent books, Stephenson fans will like it, and people who get bored with his digressions will find plenty to yawn over.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Which one of his novels did you enjoy the most?

message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto PS I've read your warning about recommendations.

message 3: by Kemper (last edited Aug 24, 2012 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper Jonathan wrote: "Which one of his novels did you enjoy the most?"

I've loved everything I read by him. Anathem is probably my favorite, but it's hard core sci-fi and requires practically learning a new language he invented.

If you don't want to jump that deep into the pool, Zodiac is a fun and fast example of his early stuff. Snow Crash is a cyber punk classic. Reamde is his latest and it's long as hell, but it's a really entertaining and interesting thriller that's a great example of his stuff.

message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Thanks for a detailed round up.

Raymond I'm a huge Stephenson fan and think I've read almost all of his stuff. my personal favorite is Cryptonomicon, but I must say I enjoyed Anathem and the Diamond Age equally. I think you'd benifit from reading his early stuff first and working your way up to the heavier volumes.

message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Thanks for your input, Raymond. I'm going to take a closer look at Cryptonomicon.

message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Didn't have to finish the description. Definitely looks interesting.

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