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The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > December 2018 "The Diamond Age" Discussion <No Spoilers>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Group Read #23


message 2: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
I've read it about 3 years ago, when I was binge-reading Neal Stephenson and will gladly re-read it now


message 3: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3782 comments Mod
As I said in some other thread, I am having to go back and read things over because I can't figure out who is who or what is going on. We shall see just how far I get . . .

Oleksandr, from the few pages I've read, I admire anyone who can binge read this guy. I remember trying Cryptometron or whatever it's called years ago and giving up. Dense, anyone?


message 4: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Oleksandr, from the few pages I've read, I admire anyone who can binge read this guy. ."

oh, he is quite uneven actually. I started with Snow Crash and then Zodiac, which are shorter than his later books. He has a problem similar to later Heinlein books - starts great, then get too rambling and aimless in the middle and then ends, usually again greatly. So you sit and think, it's a great book, but if there were a good editor, it would twice as short and still great


message 5: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3782 comments Mod
Oleksandr, that is EXACTLY how I feel about Heinlein.

I remember being so excited when the "new" version of Stranger in a Strange Land came out years ago now. I was so disappointed that all it did was add back Heinlein's ramblings so that it more resembled his later books. I expected some new scenes, like you sometimes get with the extras in movies. Live and learn!

I kept my old version of Stranger, held together with a rubber band, for years--because it truly was a better version.

Everyone benefits from a good editor.


message 6: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3782 comments Mod
Also, Oleksandr, thank you for knowing "but if there were" is the proper English tense for your sentence. It SO bugs me when this tense is ignored/omitted (whatever it's called, I can't remember after all these years.) Americans have given up and almost always use "was" instead of "were" in these spots.


message 7: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Yes, I read the 'complete' version this year and fully agree that the shorter one was better


message 8: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3782 comments Mod
Right now I am binge-watching the Marvel Studios movies with the Avenger characters in . . . less time to read, oh my!


message 9: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Started reading this novel in the end of November, it sucked me right in, but after that I had very little time to read so even though I tried going at it little at a time, I've decided against it pretty soon.

There's a lot going on and the book requires attention to details for overall enjoyment, or at least that is how I feel. And I must tell you right away that paying such is worth it, I am about a quarter into the book and so far enjoying it.


Victor I started yesterday. It's been awhile since I've read anything by Neal Stephenson - Seveneves, about a year and a half ago.

There's something about his writing style; I can't put my finger on it. There is a lot (A LOT) of detail, and he seems to take his time getting where he's going. He's definitely quirky.

I'll say this one seems a little more focused than some of his other works - The Baroque Cycle comes to mind. Then again, I'm only about 50 pages in, so we'll see where he takes things.


Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
I agree, Victor, The Diamond Age is much more focused and cohesive than his other books, and I am really enjoying it. I started off with Reamde, definitely not the best place to start. Great premise, turned into a Bond movie by the end....and the end was a long journey. Then Snow Crash - great start and not so detailed and lengthy, but for me, that one turned into a jumble of weird offhand characters and an ending that had almost no relationship to the beginning. I'll keep trying with him, if for no other reason than he's one of the few authors that makes me look up new words like "gallimaufry" (sometimes a good descriptor for his books).


message 12: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "makes me look up new words like "gallimaufry" "

:)
I like his style and I like that his political/economic/societal ideas are closer SF classics like Heinlein (maybe because I grew on them) than modern usually more left-leaning SF (which of course also have great ideas)


Victor Allan wrote: "makes me look up new words like "gallimaufry" "

Funny you should bring that up. I'm reading a paperback copy that I picked up at a used book store awhile back. I was reading it on the train yesterday and caught myself reaching with my finger, like I was on my tablet, to look up gallimaufry.

I blame the winter weather. [Brain freeze is a real thing, right?]


message 14: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Dec 05, 2018 07:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I agree, Victor, The Diamond Age is much more focused and cohesive than his other books, and I am really enjoying it. I started off with Reamde, definitely not the best place to start. Great premis..."

I am looking forward to reading some of his other stuff but I would hate for Diamond Age to be his only masterpiece as some of the reviewers would have you believe. The amount of detail is amazing, especially in world building, which has more layers than an onion. Well, maybe a small onion... a shallot.. or probably a scallion? In any case it is more than decent, the cultural references go hand in hand with solid (sounding) science and characters seem to lead believable lives in the universe surrounding them.


Cynthia Wheaton | 169 comments I thought Stephenson's best world building was in Anathem. But that book also suffered from his usual pattern of devolving into a road trip in the middle and then getting back on topic with a weird and unexpected twist and reveal at the end.


message 16: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Cynthia wrote: "I thought Stephenson's best world building was in Anathem..."

And the 2nd part of Seveneves also has an impressive new world


Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
I just finished it, so I'm gonna hop on over to the spoilers thread and comment there.


Cynthia Wheaton | 169 comments Thanks, Oleksandr. I haven't gotten around to reading Seveneves yet.


message 19: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Cynthia wrote: "Thanks, Oleksandr. I haven't gotten around to reading Seveneves yet."

I have to warn you that if in The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer the worldbuilding is often tongue-in-cheek and/or satirical, in Seveneves it is more serious, an attempt to describe a human civilization, living in space (but near the Earth) for 10 millenia


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 802 comments Started yesterday and I'm about 60 pages in. This is really good stuff: much better than Snow Crash, which is the only Stephenson book I've read. Like others have commented, DA is much more focused than SC. But if I recall right, both books start with a description of a high-speed drive with a futuristic vehicle - didn't Snow Crash start with Hiro driving a car with the high-tech tires?


Cynthia Wheaton | 169 comments The Diamond Age was the first Neal Stephenson that I read. It was so good that it spoiled me for the others, but I also loved Anathem when I got to it, and I related to it more. The idea of making scientists into monks locked away in monasteries for the protection of human society was brilliant. What could they possibly have done to deserve that? Read the book all the way to the end.


message 22: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 694 comments Antti wrote: "didn't Snow Crash start with Hiro driving a car with the high-tech tires?..."

I think he mostly used a high-tech skateboard and would catch a ride by harpooning cars. But he may have had a car at the beginning.

Anyway, I liked Diamond Age much more than Snow Crash.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 802 comments Ed: Yes, it was the skateboard, not a car! And that makes the parallel even more obvious: in Snow Crash we have hi-tech skateboard; here we have hi-tech rollerblades. Stephenson seems to like unconventional modes of transport.


message 24: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
In case some of the readers didn't know, the phyle called Nipponese is a reference to Japan. In Japanese, 日本 means Japan and reads as nippon (or nihon), so he just used the original reading of the word and made an according adjective.


message 25: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
I was reading another book at the moment, non-fic, and surprisingly enough it mentioned another novel by Neal and actually could have mentioned this one with concept of phyles:

"Fears about the future are often best expressed through fiction, particularly science fiction that tries to imagine future worlds based on new kinds of technology. In the first half of the twentieth century, many of those forward-looking fears centered around big, centralized, bureaucratic tyrannies that snuffed out individuality and privacy. George Orwell’s 1984 foresaw Big Brother controlling individuals through the telescreen, while Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World saw the state using biotechnology to stratify and control society. But the nature of imagined dystopias began to change in the later decades of the century, when environmental collapse and out-of-control viruses took center stage.
However, one particular strand spoke to the anxieties raised by identity politics. Cyberpunk authors such as Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson saw a future dominated not by centralized dictatorships, but by uncontrolled social fragmentation that was facilitated by a new emerging technology called the internet. Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash posited a ubiquitous virtual “metaverse” in which individuals could adopt avatars, interact, and change their identities at will. The United States had broken down into “burbclaves,” suburban subdivisions catering to narrow identities such as New South Africa for the racists with their Confederate flags, or Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong for Chinese immigrants. Passports and visas were required to travel from one neighborhood to the other. The CIA was privatized, and the USS Enterprise had become a floating home for refugees. The authority of the federal government shrank to encompass only the land on which federal buildings were located."
- Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment by Francis Fukuyama


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