Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > December 2018 "The Diamond Age" Discussion <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Dec 06, 2018 07:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Group Read #23


message 2: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Haven't had much time to get back into the novel, a fact rather upsetting since I can hardly wait how it all turns out for the characters.

One character, whose progress I enjoy following is Judge Fang, the whole bit where he tests his mettle against such of Dr.X was rather pleasant to follow, the surprising outcome even more so! I always imagined Judge would come out on top, of whatever battle of wits were undoubtedly to follow, but his crossing over to Dr.X's side was totally unexpected.

The majority of Shanghai references go way over my head I am totally oblivious to the veracity of any statements regarding Confucianisms, but knowing Stephenson I'm pretty sure he's done his homework. Still if anybody has any fun facts or insights, please do not hesitate spell it out!


message 3: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Dec 09, 2018 09:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Dear Santa,

I have been rather naughty for the last fifteen or so years, growing up does that to you, so please don't hold it against me! I swear on all that is dear to me to do my very best starting now. I pledge to treat friends, family and even strangers with kindness, learn all Christmas carols and sing them till my vocal cords go numb, help out in soup kitchens, if only I could have a copy of Primer for Christmas this year.

Your humble to-be-servant, Art.

P.s. You've got two weeks. I know where you live. Don't make me go down all the way to the North Pole, we would not want anything to befall Mrs.Claus, now would we...


message 4: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Hope that my previous post doesn't get me in trouble with the elF.B.I...

In any case, back to Diamond Age discussion. I am trying to think what do dreamers remind me of, is it pre-cogs or what is it I am thinking of? I know there were a few ideas similar like that in other novels, we've also discussed it briefly in another thread, human beings plugged into the net on neurological level.


message 5: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3490 comments Mod
Art wrote: " I know there were a few ideas similar like that in other novels, we've also discussed it briefly in another thread, human beings plugged into the net on neurological level. ."

For the mainstream it would be Matrix but if we look for the earliest work with the concept, I guess it would be something by Philip K. Dick or Stanisław Lem. The earliest mention of 'disembodied alive brain' (the preceding idea) was introduced in the mid-19th century.


message 6: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Dec 13, 2018 07:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
I believe the novel I am thinking of wasn't even a sci-fi, it was either horror or fantasy. There was something similar in King's Dark Tower but I am not sure it's quite it.


message 7: by Antti (last edited Dec 15, 2018 04:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 752 comments Finished today. I really liked the book, it had lots of interesting ideas, although the pacing felt sometimes off and the ending could've been better.

Judge Fang was my favourite character and I was sad to see him disappear from the plot. I kept hoping he would make a comeback right down to the last pages.

Nell's and Hackworth's storylines intertwined rwasonably satisfactorily, although there were times I felt I was reading two separate books at the same time.

But I can't understand the decision to include Miranda in the story. Her character was extremely superfluous and could've been cut entirely from the book with minimal editing.

I think I was a bit disappointed with the ending partly because the end was all about finding Miranda, and I could care less about her.


message 8: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "Finished today. I really liked the book, it had lots of interesting ideas, although the pacing felt sometimes off and the ending could've been better.

Judge Fang was my favourite character and I w..."


I'm not surprised to hear that a lot of what Antti said reflects my own sentiments toward the novel. I try keeping away from book reviews and synopses as much as possible, so this book had plenty of surprises in store for me.

Just as Antti mentioned earlier, I was captivated by Judge Fang's character and lack of his appearance was a huge disappointment to me. Other characters were also very exciting to follow, though at times confusing and one had to make the effort to read some of the passages in comparison to easy-to-read parts where primer "narrated" to Nell.

Still, the book has plenty to offer, from intense world building to allegory of various kinds. Story progression becomes somewhat unconventional towards the end and the intensity keeps you enthralled the remaining fifth of the book even though it all becomes a bit confusing.

I enjoyed all the characters and the stories the had to tell, however some were not as exciting as others. One part of the book that managed to sneak up on me and its importance never's dawned on me until it was quite later in the book. That's Seed I am talking about, it might've been due to the fact that I had almost a week worth of break around three quarters into the book, but the relevance of seed did not register with me at first.

Another confusing aspect was the appearance and role of the Mice Army (besides its convenience), one that failed entirely captivate or impress me.

Diamond Age is a book I am planning on re-reading in future, when I have a bit of peace and quiet so I can finish it in a couple of days. Looking forward to more of Stephenson in our nominations.


message 9: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3490 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "Finished today. I really liked the book, it had lots of interesting ideas, although the pacing felt sometimes off and the ending could've been better.."

I fully agree. Even a great cinematic moment of the Mouse army converging on the skyscraper don't save it.

I like his post-cyberpunk worldview, I meant the cyberpunk was a hacker vs the state/corporation, but here we have phyles, states/corps people choose.

Antti wrote: "But I can't understand the decision to include Miranda in the story. Her character was extremely superfluous and could've been cut entirely from the book with minimal editing. "

I guess her role was to show that human still matter, the Primer alone won't develop you fully, as Chinese girls to some extent show - for them Nell is the mother, like for her is Miranda.


message 10: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
The reason I am planning a re-read of this novel is simply because I would like to have a chance to apreciate all the finer points of the plot, natural progression of the story and every single thing that makes sense. But besides that I'm pretty interested in finding out whether I missed any important clue that would explain some of the things happening towards the end of the book.

Oleksandr said: "I guess her role was to show that human still matter, the Primer alone won't develop you fully, as Chinese girls to some extent show - for them Nell is the mother, like for her is Miranda."

The bit where Miranda has any influence on Nell is probably twenty-line short, it would explain the existence of the character but to me it does not explain the role she plays in the ending. It may appear that Miranda was used by Stephenson just to make the ending look neat, at least it appeared to me in such a away, but I confess I may have missed some vital piece of information that would explain why Drummers were so interested in using Miranda as the "sacrifice/source" for the seed. Having Nell save her surrogate mother by injecting nanobots into her bloodstream made for a tidy ending, though one that to me did not make sense.

In a couple of years I will try reading it again, but I don't expect anyone holding their breath for an update in this thread this long, ha!


message 11: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Dec 24, 2018 08:27AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
OK, I give up. My reading time is too broken up right now to read this. I just looked to see how much further I needed to trudge through and it turns out I am only at 38%. Arrgh! I think I need to read something else. So I'm giving up.

Yes, the guy has this really interesting writing style, but I just can't do it anymore. Did he never learn to stay on the plot line? Any plot line! Plot=because, dude!

The only person I care about is Nell, and they rarely talk about her.

I am at the point where Hackworth is in a meeting with Finkle-McGraw and Major Napier after he's been suborned by Chang and the judge. And I just don't care.

So what happens to Nell? Anyone? Anyone?

Some moderator I am!


message 12: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "But I can't understand the decision to include Miranda in the story. Her character was extremely superfluous and could've been cut entirely from the book with minimal editing."

Hey, I don't understand why they included Nell's dad! I am assuming they killed him on that pier, though it doesn't really say. Or does he magically reappear later in the book?


message 13: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3490 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Hey, I don't understand why they included Nell's dad! I am assuming they killed him on that pier, though it doesn't really say. Or does he magically reappear later in the book?
"


He is dead. Why he was included - my take is that he served to purposes:
1. to show how this world ticks - judicial system, street life, what new white trash likes with regard to guns, why you should mess with a phyle, that there are many different phyles, etc - we are introduced to the world via him
2. to show that in utopia there are still poor and uneducated who waste their life - isn't it surprising for an utopia?

2.1 is that it gives starting point for Nell extremely low, while in the grand finale she goes extremely high - this shows that you can still improve your life


message 14: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3490 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "So what happens to Nell? Anyone? Anyone? ."

She grows up, becomes a queen of her own phyle, which consists of those Chinese girls, who also got Primers and saves the world from a Seed, the tech, which replaces the Feed


message 15: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
thanks for filling me in, Z, and maybe I will return to it later. Nell is my fav!


message 16: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Hey, I don't understand why they included Nell's dad! I am assuming they killed him on that pier, though it doesn't really say. Or does he magically reappear later in the book? "

I think what Z said works pretty well, but I think a 3rd reason is that it is another link between Judge Jake and Nell. The next link being her brother. The two links made him focus on the book and lead him to X.


Victor Well, Christmas - hope everyone had a good one! Great for catching up with friends and family, not so great for reading though, haha.

I actually like how Stephenson weaves around the plot line, apologies to Kate :-). I don't even bother trying to figure out where he's going anymore, I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I think it works largely because he fills his novels with really unusual ideas that drive characters' actions in truly unexpected ways. The spontaneous combustion scene midway through the novel - loved it!

Also, when Hackworth revealed he was the Alchemist - much like Hackworth himself, I did not see that coming. He reminded me of other Stephenson characters like Daniel Waterhouse in The Baroque Cycle Collection or Bob Shaftoe in Cryptonomicon, who seem to stumble obliviously, but likeably from one epiphany to the next.

Favorite character was Nell, with most honorable mentions to Judge Fang and his Confucian cohorts.


message 18: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3490 comments Mod
Victor wrote: "I actually like how Stephenson weaves around the plot line, apologies to Kate :-). I don't even bother trying to figure out where he's going anymore, I just sit back and enjoy the ride."

I like it too, but often sudden shifts make me question myself - have I understand everything, haven't I missed something? Therefore, the book benefits from re-reads


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