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The Diamond Age by Neal. Stephenson

The Diamond Age (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Neal. Stephenson

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8,578139355 (4.11)208
Title:The Diamond Age
Authors:Neal. Stephenson
Info:BANTAM. (1995), Paperback, 455 pages
Collections:Your library, Sc-Fi
Tags:Sci-Fi, Nanotechnology

Work details

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (1995)

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English (132)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
Stephenson's dark brand of dark humor and detailed vision of the future is enthralling, but lacked any sense of real closure for me. Not as engaging or focused as _Snow Crash_ or _Cryptonomicon_. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is the second Neal Stephenson book I have read, the previous one being the marvelously entertaining Snow Crash. Unlike Snow Crash this not an easy read, being the impatient sort I almost gave up on it around page 70, fortunately some wiser heads than mine pulled me back (thank you Goodread friends!). The problem for me is the initial inundation of unfamiliar words, some are of the author's invention, the others are just English words not in my vocabulary!

The book focuses on the trials and tribulations of several protagonists and one central character, a little girl from a poor family called Nell. If the book had been focused on Nell alone it would have been a breeze to read as I like the character and her adventures with her brother in the early parts of the book are relatively straight forward. While I love the setting of this strange future world where nanotechnology pervades every aspect of life, my initial difficulty with the book is that I found one of the protagonists (Hackworth, damn him!) less than endearing and his part of the story hard to follow as he is a genius nanotechnologist and a lot of the technical details Stephenson describes in these chapters go right over my head. Still, the author knows better than I do how his story should proceed and his canvas is too big for just a single protagonist narrative. Anyway, I put the book down for a couple of days to read something much easier (Bujold!) then I was persuaded to get back to The Diamond Age again. By a happy coincidence from the point of my reentry the book switches its focus from the irritating Hackworth to spend a lot of time on Nell and her development with the aid of the high nanotech primer book mentioned in the novel’s subtitle. Another high point for me is Stephenson’s peculiar sense of humor which is based more on cultural oddities rather than witticism or slapstick. For example the dialogue in the tea house scene between a judge and a mysterious Chinese character called Dr X is a subtly hilarious comedy of manners.

However, this is clearly a more serious novel than Snow Crash, one of the theme that resonate very much with me is the right of the disenfranchised to education, enlightenment and a chance of good life. I also share the author's sense of outrage against child abuse, some teacher’s abuse of authority and general spiritual and intellectual deprivation some kids are subjected to. These serious issues are smoothly integrated into the story without ever becoming preachy. Being an extremely well read individual Stephenson has included bits of Confucius philosophy in the narrative, I can't claim to understand it all but the little that I do may have made me just a teensy weensy bit wiser, a definite bonus.

So an entertaining, thought provoking and worthwhile book, it may even give the reader’s intelligence a wee boost. If that doesn’t work you can always eat more fish. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It...

As a big fan of Anathem (one of my favorite SF novels) and Snow Crash, I had high expectations for this book. Although The Diamond Age, or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer has its merits, and is often entertaining, ultimately, I was disappointed.

The problem with this book is that (...) ( )
  bormgans | Dec 15, 2015 |
I think, perhaps, that the passage of time has not been good to this book. When this was written in 1995 it was incredibly imaginative, well ahead of its time and full of quirky cyberpunk themes. 20 years later, I think some of the sheer amazement has worn off. As a story, it has some great elements and some not so great elements. Several major characters just leave the story abruptly and the ending is ridiculously abrupt. Its not really a cliff hanger, its more along the lines of 'and they all lived not so happily ever after the end' right in the middle of the action. It doesn't help that it is set in a future China that is somewhat broken up but then experiences a sort of 2nd Communist revolution, which makes it difficult to tell who's on what side. I would have enjoyed this more if the ending wasn't so frustrating. Don't read this if you like satisfying endings. ( )
  Karlstar | Sep 6, 2015 |
Imagination is alive and well, and Stephenson seems to be it's current literary keeper. Amazing stuff. ( )
  chriszodrow | Aug 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiltsie, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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By nature, men are nearly alike;
by practice, they get to be wide apart.

- Confucius
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The bells of St. Mark's were ringing changes up on the mountain when Bud skated over to the mod parlor to upgrade his skull gun.
The difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people--and this is true whether or not they are well-educated--is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations--in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.
It is upon moral qualities that a society is ultimately founded. All the prosperity and technological sophistication in the world is of no use without that foundation.
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The story of an engineer who creates a device to raise a girl capable of thinking for herself reveals what happens when a young girl of the poor underclass obtains the device.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014027037X, 0241953197

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