First off, I think Stephenson is an incredible author. Intelligent, abstract with a great style to his writing. Any book of his is at least three stars. This one was not my favorite but not bad. Narration matched the characters in the story well, a solid performance. A little too monotone in action parts of the book like the end. I think the reason for the 3 star rating is the difficulty following the main plot of the book. Seemed to jump around a lot and without the feeling of getting into the characters lives. Maybe it was the monotone narration. May be a better read than in audio. Anyway, I would recommend any Stephenson book, this one maybe not as much.
There is nothing to criticize about the book or the performance -- both are superlative. I've listened to this from beginning to end at least 5 times and it never ceases to amaze me. I still laugh at all the funny parts and still worry about the characters in the dangerous spots. This is one of the best purchases I ever made.
The Diamond Age is a science fiction novel about a future world dominated by nanotechnology. This is a world where matter compilers (MCs) are found in every household. The MCs have programs for producing all the necessities of life upon command from a feed of atoms of essential elements. MCs can produces anything that engineers have been clever enough to come up with programs for, from complex machines to made to order islands. A notable feature of this world are ubiquitous nanocytes: microscopic machines that enter the body from the air or through bodily fluids. These nanocytes can perform tasks as beneficial as health maintenance or as devious as nervous system alteration or enforcing captivity through the threat of micro-explosions.
The protagonist is a young girl from the wrong side of the tracks named Nell, who comes into possession of a book, the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer". The primer is the ultimate information machine: it teaches her to read, it answers every question, it teaches her how to solve every problem. The primer is the creation of John Hackworth, a "bespoke engineer" who designed it for the daughter of a lord, but had it snatched away. The novel is a coming of age story, in which Nell rises from her precarious origins, learning through games and parables, to fulfill her intellectual and political destiny. She is aided in this by Miranda, a "ractor" (interactive actor), who through the medium of the primer, becomes her virtual mother.
The story is set in a dystopian world, largely in China. Tribes control geographic regions, violence, cruelty, misery and inequity abound, and justice is swift and subjective, with a dash of Confucianism.
A number of interesting computational concepts are explored. There is an obsession with Turing machines in parts of the story. The question of breaking codes through new computational structures arises. It is addressed through a new take on a gestalt organism comprising a tribe joined through nanocyte communication. The story climaxes in an epic political confrontation between "feed" and "seed": Feed is the top down distribution of atoms which feeds the world's matter compilers, and Seed is the distributed solution by which new things are created by growing them, independent of central authority.
In addition, I found the narration on this audiobook to be excellent thoughout.
The Honest IT Guy!
Yes. Thanks to the Narrator
Great voices and emotion. And the voices she provides for the story within a story are amazing.
Sci Fi Fan
This was a great story. Stephenson did a nice job of creating an interesting future world, with the Neo Victorians and widespread nano-manufacture.
The Young Girls primer that is created at the beginning of the story leads the young girls who end up with it on some fantastic adventures which we get to ride along on. Highly recommended, very engaging.
it sure was weird. good narrator. interesting science fiction notions..its a bit hard to stay interested for more than 2 hours at a time...usually i listen to audiobooks for 7 hours straight. not for everyone, but good
Highly recommended. A great story with lots of characters and a great plot. One of Stephenson's best works. If you're a fan of Neal you will really enjoy it. The man can write page turners and once you're hooked you will finish it in no time. Unfortunately, as with many of his books, the ending is a bit of a let down but getting there is so much fun.
The reader is great, and her accent and tone is a perfect match for the setting of the novel (prim and proper English) and the use of music to introduce chapters really works. Usually I don't care for music in audiobooks but this time it was pleasant and enhanced the experience.
If you like Sci-fi and/or cyberpunk then you _must_ read this book. Sephenson paints the picture of a future world that with very beautiful parts, and very ugly parts. The story is compelling, ensuring that you keep reading long into the night waiting to see what will happen.
The world Neal imagines makes so many things possible, there ehere a number of moments when you realize just what is possible and natural in such a world. Plus a number of moments where you're left awed and shocked at the same time at developments in the story made possible by the world Stephenson has created.
Like the other books of his that I've read, the ending is a little disapointing. But the voice of Wiltsie helps to keep the exceitment going right through the entire story. Wiltsie does a wonderful job with charicter's acents and voices, making them all sound unique and using emortional ephasis appropritely.
I began listening to this one while commuting, and it might be one of the only audiobooks I felt was compelling me to finish it. Stephenson did a wonderful job creating a future world, drawing together interesting characters and ideas which made me want to continue listening. Unpredictable, with just the right edge of "yes, that might be the direction our world goes in the future," this story held me captive. Some elements were not quite to my taste (occasional level of violence, sexuality), but these things served to drive the story, and so were not a major hinderance.
I was also impressed with the narrator's presentation of the story. Good pacing, pleasant diction, and a decent range of tone made her very easy to listen to. With the quality of writing, and the strong narration, it is easy to see why this audiobook is a popular choice.
This book won the Hugo Award, and was well deserving. It has excellent and fully developed characters that live in an interesting and complete world, but the ending causes the book to fall short of a true science fiction great. I use the word "ending" meaning the book stops but the book doesn't really end. There is no strong climax and no conclusion. Loose ends abound. It has the feel of too many science fiction novels that are teeing up for a sequel, although Stephenson has yet to provide one. Read it for the rich characters and story lines, but don't expect a satisfying finish.
Jennifer Wiltsie does a good job narrating the story, and I like the way the music is used during the transitions. Unfortunately the sound quality could be better, as Wiltsie sometimes sounds as though she is too far from the microphone which creates an almost mono effect. All and all she treats the female and male characters equally well, and it is generally easy to forget that she herself is there.