5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Original
The Diamond Age is the second of Stephenson's books that I've read. I enjoyed it far more that Snow Crash. While Snow Crash got off to a great start, I didn't enjoy the second half at all. I found myself reading it because it was a groundbreaking book, not because I enjoyed it. I read The Diamond Age because it was a fast-paced enjoyable read AND because it was unique...
Published on May 9 2004 by jsdunk
3.0 out of 5 stars Merely OK Stephenson
The concepts in the book were great - from the nanotechnology to the Primer. However, it took me a good 100 pages or so to get into it. Stephenson introduces characters in the beginning of the book that don't really serve any purpose but to introduce other characters later, and these initial characters are pretty much never mentioned at all once they're out of the...
Published on Nov 13 2003 by owookiee
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Original,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)The Diamond Age is the second of Stephenson's books that I've read. I enjoyed it far more that Snow Crash. While Snow Crash got off to a great start, I didn't enjoy the second half at all. I found myself reading it because it was a groundbreaking book, not because I enjoyed it. I read The Diamond Age because it was a fast-paced enjoyable read AND because it was unique and thought-provoking.
The Diamond Age is set is a very plausable near future where nanotech has eliminated basic problems, such as starvation, but its created its share of problems as well. Nasty nanotech devices that can track or kill people require sophisticated nanotech defenses.
Meanwhile, all nanotech products are provided be a central feed that both controls what can be delivered, what is free and what costs money, and frees peasents from substistence farming and the poor from working to survive. While this world is harldy a utopia -- as there are still massive economic disparities between the rich and poor and a tremendous amount of crime and pollution -- Westerners on the whole seem happy with this arangement.
But there are more than a few who are unhappy or restless. The Diamond Age is the story of what happens when a father who wants a better life for his daughter collides with an entire culture that wants change. Throw in an enormous computer made of human bodies, an interactive storybook that tells a story that takes over a decade to read, an army of teenage girls and a few other interesting characters and you have a compelling and fascinating view of the future.
When I first finished the book, I thought the ending was abrupt and disappointing. But, as I started to think about the end, I could see everything falling into place.
This is the best book I've read in a while and I highly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars must-read for SF fans,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)I've enjoyed other Stephenson books, but this is by far the most interesting. It still has some adolescent hack-and-slash elements reminiscent of Snow Crash, but the remarkably complex social context Stephenson develops in a world fully immersed in nano-tech is fascinating. The emergence of the transnational organizations as the primary replacement for current concepts of nationalism are wonderfully predicive (given the current influence of shadowy organizations like al Quaeda, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart).
Almost equally powerful is Stephenson's handling of the Nell character. His choices of language are very appropriate to her age, and are reminiscent in effectiveness to Frank McCourt's handling of his main character in "Angela's Ashes".
Highly recommend this book. There is enough depth here that it warrants more than a single read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating vision of nanotech-driven future,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)This book is pleasantly dense with interesting ideas about what the future holds. The title refers to the progression of material-driven stages of human progress -- the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, etc. In "the Diamond Age", matter compilers can easily create diamonds out of raw carbon. Basic foodstuffs and many other material wants can be satisfied by these matter compilers. This has created a world in which no one need starve. However there are still tremendous disparities between rich and poor, because many human comforts such as entertainment and fine food still require the services of other people, which must be bought in hard currency. Networked nano-technology is all-pervasive, with microscopic robots putting these poorer citizens under constant surveillance. Faced with this hyperactive stew of technologies, ancient instincts and traditions run strong. Crime, poverty, and tribal conflict are still rampant in this world. People cling to old ways of thought (a strong Confucian motif runs through the book) to help make human sense of the rapidly changing world.
Against this backdrop, a fantastically advanced piece of technology (a sentient child's primer) is stolen, and winds up in the hands of a destitute young waif named Nell. Her resulting world-class education, and what she does with that education, is the binding for the various threads of the story.
The book's characters are well-realized for the most part, the writing style is honed and mature, the plot is intricate and engaging. The ending is controversial in its ambiguity, but that does not diminish the power of the book as a whole. In all, a very thought-provoking read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this book 7 years ago and it still affects me...,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)...few books do that. Admittedly at the time of read I would have given the book 3.5 to 4 stars. Lacking in my opinion was a coherent storyline; the book was convoluted, you never knew what the point really was.
However, this novel has left a lasting impression on me. Of the numerous "takeaways", the most enduring are these:
1. Nanotechnology will change everything (not so apparent to the public now, much less back in 97).
2. Technology of this magnitude could offer the key to "leveling the playing field" with respect to economic inequity.
3. I devised a business term as a consequence of reading this book that has helped me immeasurably in my career: "attention units". In the future Stephenson posits that marketing will be so efficient that virtually every piece of visual real estate will be covered with what he calls "mediaglyphs"; billboards with audio and video (even on chopsticks). Not saying that I think that's a future I'd like to help build, but it does give you greater appreciation for any venue that could garner consumer attention.
And finally, my greatest lesson of all was what the Primer (the supercomputer/teacher designed by the futures equivelant to a Bill Gates for his grandaughter in an effort to stave off the near inevitable corruption of his heirs owing to great fortune); the Primer's number one lesson in all of it's teaching was appreciation and capability in one principal skill; subversion. It taught her how to go "around, under, over" any obstacle with unorthodox, even risky thinking.
Anyway, didn't give anything away of great substance there, but did want to give you a few more reasons from my perspective to read this very special book.
Hope this was helpful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Challenging Vision of the Future,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)This gargantuan novel, like a lot of Stephenson's works, contains two interconnecting stories based on the life of Nell, a tribeless, orphaned, and John Hackworth, an ostracized engineer, both trying to establish themselves in a post-modern society governed by nanotechnology. This scientific concept entails society allowing the individual the capacity to produce anything he or she needs by re-arranging the molecular structure of any substance. The primer (interactive training manual) is full of all kinds of technological wonders, such as matter compilers, smart paper, chevalines, artificial intelligence and aerostatic micromachines, all of which Nell learns to master in her efforts to form an independent society. Her teacher is the ractive (interactive actor in the primer) who teaches who the virtue of learning how the technology works to her advantage. Hackworth is one of those shadowy characters who operates under a number of covers in order to create a more enlightening form of nanotechnology that will be shared among the cultures of the world in the interests of peace and justice. As a fugitive from a Confucian society that has rejected him for his decision to make his own copy of the primer, Hackworth assumes a double identity that will allow him to start transforming nanotechnology into some new and better. Throughout this very complex and multi-layered novel, Stephenson shows the reader that technology in itself is pointless unless i
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic vision of the near future,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)For a book that was written over a decade ago, the contents even now give a fantastic vision of the possible future of the world.
As with most Stephenson books (at least the ones I've read), there are several fascinating stories that play off each other, and don't seem to connect until the climax of the book.
Where I think the book falls short is in the ending, where several threads of story seem to end in abrupt knots, and a few others are left dangling without sufficient resolution. But despite that, the rest of the book was an excellent read, following what our world may look like in the future with the advent of prolific nanotechnology.
5.0 out of 5 stars my favorite book of all time,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)very intriguing subject matter. little bit sci fi, fantasy, without being too out of this world.
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephenson's best.,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)I have to say that this is Neal Stephenson's best work among what I've read and undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite books. It was simply incredible. I would like to give it more than five stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong characters meet great storyline!,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)That just about says it all for this, yet another fantastic sci-fi/high-tech by Stephenson, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi/high-tech writers like Gibson and is welcomed into the ranks of other such books as: "Foundation", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Neuromancer", "Snow Crash", "Cryptonomicon", and "Darkeye: Cyber Hunter".
5.0 out of 5 stars Neal Stephenson is akin to William Gibson in cyberpunk,
This review is from: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Paperback)As well as akin to some of the Old Masters of Science Fiction/High-Tech, like Asimov or Clarke. He already has an impressive body of works: "Cryptonomicon", "Zodiac", "Snow Crash", "Quicksiver", etc. The various high-tech attributes, such as taking place in a far-flung future society that is "Victorian" in nature and the use of a super-computer built by nanotechnology (the "primer book") all rank him with the Old School of Science Fiction/High-Tech. I, personally, have added this book (and his others) to my collection: "Stranger in a Strange Land", "the Foundation series", "I, Robot", "Starship Troopers", "Childhood's End", "Neuromancer", "Virtual Light", "Mona Lisa Overdrive", "Count Zero", "Darkeye: Cyber Hunter" and so on. Try to get them all, if you can, but definitely get "The Diamond Age"!
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson (Paperback - May 2 2000)
CDN$ 19.00 CDN$ 13.72