The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Posted by on Monday, December 22nd, 2008

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Boy howdy, how I loved this book.  My brother David turned me on to Stephenson a few years ago.  He loaned me a copy of Cryptonomicon, explaining that I had to at least read the stuff on a fictional language spoken on a fictional island between Scotland and Iceland since I "like all that linguistic stuff" or something to that effect.   And, of course, novels aren't indexed, so I poked around, couldn't find the right bit, figured I should read the whole thing, and fell in love with the novel after three or four pages. 

In this instance, Scott picked up The Diamond Age (rather than reading Cryptonomicon as I'd suggested–people and their silly free will), started reading it, and immediately began informing me over and over that I would love this book.  Which made me want to steal the damn thing from him, of course.  It's bad to taunt me with books, you know.   Some strange little part of my brain is pretty well convinced that all the books in the world are mine, which is part of the reason I'm so offended when I read a bad one and so wary of loaning books out if I have any affection for them whatsoever.  Some people have dreams of striking it rich so that they can buy boats and fast cars and fancy jewelry.  I just want to be able to freely give away extra copies of books I love and never have anyone take my personal Precious away.  Yes, I know that's nuts.  I don't care.

I don't want to say much of anythig about the plot, since I know so many people love to be surprised by every page.  Suffice it to say, The Diamond Age is set in a alternate future, wherein nation-states as we know them have basically been replaced by commercial/social phyles such as the New-Victorians, who are a community of well-educated, English-speakng, wealthy people who profit primarily from nano-tech but value handmade, Victorian-influenced goods and fashion.  Stephenson fans (who have already read this) will recognize the universe of Snow Crash, several decades on.  The main character, Nell, is an impoverished kid who accidentally becomes entangled in a major Neo-Vicki project.  Chaos ensues.  Nell is wonderful.  La la la.  I promise to spoil nothing.

I love that Stephenson writes women and girls so well.  Sadly few male writers do, and much of sci-fi suffers because of that.  I also love some steam-punk just about wherever I can find it, and the neo-Victorians and the craftsmen who supply them make my little craft-loving heart pitter pat.  And most importantly, I love Stephenson's use of language.  The man is precise, his vocabulary is huge, and he really thinks about his work choices.  It's rare enough to find that, but when it's paired with such inventive plotting and  world-building the results are astounding.  I know I'll read this book again, and I'll probably keep an eye out for used copies I can distribute to the needy. 

Filed in Books | 5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson”

  1. minnieon 22 Dec 2008 at 1:36 pm 1

    once again, fodder for my libary queue, lol. quick question for ya. the cryptonomicon sounds like it’s right up my 16 year old WWII-lovin’ son. Do you think it’s age-appropriate for him? He reads at college level.


  2. minnieon 22 Dec 2008 at 1:36 pm 2

    right up his alley, lol. that’s what i get for going too fast!

  3. kon 22 Dec 2008 at 6:34 pm 3

    I couldn’t get through Crypto, because it was from the library and, and, and, I think I got swept away by something else. But this one sounds Like I’ll be able to consume it.

  4. mapgirlon 24 Dec 2008 at 5:27 pm 4

    Love the Stephenson. He has a great way with words and is not afraid to use them, hence the weight of the Baroque Cycle. love love love his take on economics and high technology. Big U is not that great, so I’d skip it, but it does show you just how far he’s come with Crypto.

  5. Jenniferon 03 Jan 2009 at 10:00 am 5

    Oh, more to add to my GoodReads queue!

    I am so with you about books! Not nuts about your books at all (well, unless I am nuts, too, which could very well be the case). Love love my books … hate to lend them out in case they get hurt (this from the experience of my MIL borrowing one and dropping it in a lake on a fishing trip! ye gads!). Some I just absolutely, positively will not lend out. Ever. The trick is figuring out a way to say NO nicely (instead of grabbing the book and running for the hills).

    Happy New Year!


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