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 Post subject: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: January 30th, 2009, 5:31 pm 
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My favorite contemporary sci-fi author, though his work has branched out lately. Without a doubt one of the titans of the genre. You can Wikipedia him for his bibliography, so I'll just hit highlights.

Zodiac, though somewhat of an apprentice work, is still worth the read. It's kind of eco-thriller meets modern day cyberpunk. I've always had a soft spot for this book, even though it's overshadowed by his later monoliths.

Snow Crash. Where to start. This book is fucking amazing. Stephenson really starts to come into his form with this book. Anyone that's read Stephen Pinker will be familiar with the kind of holistic cognitive science approach to blending genres. (Pinker is a cognitive scientist that write nonfiction, but takes an approach that borrows from all disciplines, even if it's very opinionated.) It's futuristic cyberpunk, but with a very distinct, almost bombastic style. It then incorporates political, linguistic, historical and then fantastical aspects of early pre-history science and anthropology into this fucking maelstrom. This might be my favorite sci-fi/cyberpunk book of all time. Anyone with any kind of interest in cog sci and speculative fiction will love this book. It will rock your world.

Cryptonomicon. A great book. More techno-thriller than sci-fi as it has an alternating plot that takes place in the modern day as well as WWII. Snow Crash was an amazing evolution of style for Stephenson, but Cryptonomicon is just a massive jump forward. His writing style really starts to gel with this book. It's a long read, but well worth it. It has aspects that will appeal to fans of historical fiction, sci-fi and political thrillers alike.

The Baroque Cycle. A trilogy containing Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World. Until his latest book I thought this was his masterpiece. He takes the two families that are the protagonists of Cryptonomicon and weaves a story that follows their ancestors in Enlightenment Europe. This is a historical tour de force. Newton, Leibniz, Hooke, Tsar Nicholas, Catherine the Great, et al. are all involved. Louis XIV rules France, England is being torn apart, America is taking shape, and the world is in upheaval. Science is finally emerging from the shadow of Empiricism and Rationalism with the new force of Natural Philosophy. Stephenson weaves his fictional characters amidst this massive tapestry. Mathematics, cryptography, piracy (of the high seas sort), political cabals, religious inquisition, you name it. Literally a multi-continent romp that contains just about everything you could think of. His literary style just jumps off the page. You will literally be laughing in delight as you read these books.

Anathem. His latest work, which I just finished, and will probably re-read as soon as I have time to spare. This is the closest I've ever seen an author come to Thomas Pynchon, which is a stunning accomplishment in and of itself. Denser than the Baroque Cycle, Stephenson's style has matured and evolved even more. This is a cryptic book. Fuck the Da Vinci code. This book will make you think, scratch your head, re-read and work to figure it out. You will be left with questions and probably be compelled to dive right back in for another go. Books like this are why people read. It's far from easy reading, but well worth the effort. Snow Crash will always have a special place in my heart, and the Baroque Cycle is fantastic, but this is definitely Stephenson's masterpiece so far.

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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2009, 3:22 pm 
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I couldn't get through the first chapter of Anathem... maybe I'll try again another time.

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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: March 4th, 2009, 4:39 am 
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Yeah, the initial learning curve is kind of wtf.

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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: May 3rd, 2009, 12:47 pm 

Joined: May 3rd, 2009, 12:42 pm
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Sorry chief, but anyone who hasn't read the Diamond Age has no business talking about Neal Stephenson.
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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: May 3rd, 2009, 4:52 pm 
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Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Shmern wrote:
Sorry chief, but anyone who hasn't read the Diamond Age has no business talking about Neal Stephenson.


You made an account for that? Really?

...Really?

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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: May 3rd, 2009, 8:56 pm 
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I've read The Diamond Age. And I didn't include that one in my post. Omfg.

And holy shit. I just got sorry chief'd.

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 Post subject: Re: Neal Stephenson
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 10:48 pm 
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I don't even know if anyone still cares to peruse this forum, but I recently finished Reamde and it was really quite good. Definitely worth picking up.

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