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View Full Version : Anyone read Neal Stephenson?


NewChief
03-17-2005, 09:19 AM
I've started the Baroque Cycle, because I read a favorable review of the epic scope of the work.

Anyone out there fans? I figure that some of the more techy/historical/geeky types on the board (Rain Man and Gaz) might be into this author.


Anyway, I'm about halfway through Quicksilver, and I'm impressed. He's like the Thomas Pynchon of historical fantasy.

Braincase
03-17-2005, 09:35 AM
I loved SnowCrash. I have the Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon sitting on the nightstand, but I've got to get up to speed on Systems Management Server, so no fiction for a few weeks.

Gaz
03-17-2005, 09:38 AM
I tried one of his books [Snow Crash]. It certainly sounded like something I would like. I really like Gibson’s stuff and Stephenson was supposed to be Gibson with a slanted take.

Unfortunately, Stephenson’s style just did not work for me, so I bailed.

xoxo~
Gaz
Wanted to like the guy, though.

Trench
03-17-2005, 09:38 AM
Haven't started the Baroque Cycle, but read Cryptonomicon a year or so ago. Pretty good. I'll probably wait on starting the new ones until the third book is out, which appears to be next month. Stevenson is pretty cool if you're into that geeky sort of thing.

Uncle_Ted
03-17-2005, 09:38 AM
I've read his novel "Cryptonomicon" and had very mixed feelings. It was clear that Stephenson is an author who likes to show you how much he knows about every topic under the sun, and while the length of a book typically doesn't turn me off (well, OK, I never finished Don Quixote), this book was waaaay too long. Seemed like the author was :holdman: himself too much. And I felt the payoff at the end was disappointing.

On the other hand, there were parts of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I really liked that events during WWII were a large and critical chunk of the story. But on the whole, "Cryptonomicon" has turned me off to his work, and someone would have to do a hell of a sales job to get me to give him a second chance.

NewChief
03-17-2005, 09:43 AM
I guess I'm getting into him assbackward, as Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon seem to be the ones people typically start off with.

I think Crypto is similar to the Baroque Cycle. The thing I really like about Quicksilver is the historical framing of the Enlightenment. You get to see Isaac Newton making all of these discoveries which were almost mystical in their nature. He also surrounds Newton with contemporaries that are into all sorts of crazy alchemy and mysticism. While it's certainly fiction, it's an interesting perspective on a lot of our ideas that we just take for granted as logical truth these days.

patteeu
03-17-2005, 10:27 AM
I've read Snow Crash, Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon. I started Quicksilver a few months ago but didn't finish it (although I've always planned to return to it).

Snow Crash had one of the most entertaining first chapters I've ever read in science fiction. I enjoyed the entire book, but the ending didn't live up to the beginning IMO.

I liked Diamond Age quite a bit from beginning to end. Both DA and SC were solid cyberpunk novels with lots of neat ideas in them.

Crytonomicon is my favorite book of those I've read in the past few years. I really liked the way the multiple characters and twin plot lines were interwoven throughout the book. I couldn't put it down. I don't read that many books though so favorite-in-the-past-few-years isn't as meaningful coming from me as it would be from an insatiable reader.

Quicksilver was off to a great start although for me it was much more challenging reading than the other three because I'm not as familiar with Isaac Newton era history as I am with some of the technological concepts in SC, DA, and Crypto. I need to buy QS and start it again.

I'm impressed with Neal Stephenson's range and his attention to detail is awesome.

NewChief
03-17-2005, 10:35 AM
Quicksilver was off to a great start although for me it was much more challenging reading than the other three because I'm not as familiar with Isaac Newton era history as I am with some of the technological concepts in SC, DA, and Crypto. I need to buy QS and start it again.

I'm impressed with Neal Stephenson's range and his attention to detail is awesome.

It's extremely challenging for me as well, as I'm no historian. Nor am I a scientist. In fact, I'm really weak on science and philosophy. That being said, I've just let myself sort of read and enjoy the work. As you said, the pleasure is really in the details. The way he paints a picture of the period is fascinating. He gives the time period a magical quality without resorting to the fantastical (sort of magical realist-eque).

Oh, one resource you might check out if you start it again is the Metaweb (http://www.metaweb.com/wiki/wiki.phtml) a Wiki that Stephenson put up for the Baroque Cycle.

Gaz
03-17-2005, 11:20 AM
If you like historical fantasy, you should check out Gregory Keyes “Age of Unreason” series. 4 books. It posits a world in which alchemy is real and has been quantified. The main characters are real historical figures [Ben Franklin, Isaac Newton, so forth] engulfed in a world war with otherworldly creatures operating through pawns.

The first one is Newtons’ Cannon.

Pretty good stuff.

xoxo~
Gaz
Considered the series sponge-worthy.