Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' is a fantastic SciFi novel which looks into a future filled with next generation Internet-like constructs and nano-technological innovation and their effect on the socio-economic disparities in our world today. Synthetic rice puts 30 million Asian peasants out of work, every material needed can be "compiled" from a "matter-feed" at home, national borders are rendered obsolete, though nations still exist and apply their laws in a trade-agreement sort of fashion. The ideas are amazing, and yet that was just background for a very touching story about a little girl from an impoverished an abusive home, named "Nell" who through happenstance acquires "The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer", an interactive book, originally meant for the daughter of a wealthy upper-class "equity-lord". The novel follows Nell through her self-education with the Primer from the ages of 4 to 20, during which she runs away from her abusive stepfather, finds solace with another group, and ultimately becomes a revolutionary (the true purpose of the Primer). I very much enjoyed the tale, and Stephenson has some very up-to-date ideas on India and China, and where the world will probably end up in a 100 years.
Based on the reviews, it looks like people either love this book, or hate it. It is long, but I would not recommend trying the abridged version. Take the time to listen to the unabridged version. It's worth it. The author's imagined ideas about the possible structures and capabilities of nano-tech are incredible. His vision of the future makes me wish I was born later, but at the same time makes me happy I don't live in that place/time.
I'd also like to say Jennifer Wiltsie does one of the best narrator job as I have heard after listening to 30 books. She is a true professional.
Spectacular book. Enjoyable listen. A must have.
Sometimes it takes a while to get into the grove of a story but by the second paragraph of “Diamond Age”, I was hooked. Neal Stephenson is an extraordinary writer, but more than that; a poet, philosopher and futurist. This labyrinthine tale could be described as a “fairy-tale”, painted with luscious prose, sensitive characterization and deep insight; it is a story of rare beauty. The narration is exceptional, the experience delicious.
This book was a good listen, however, just like "Snow Crash," Mr. Stephenson ends his otherwise in-depth, detailed novel as if he ran out of paper (or disk space). All the hours of the story and it ends in about 15 seconds. Still, it's a good book. Just be prepared to be dropped off at the end.
Let me be clear at the outset: this is a good book, from a really good author.
Some of the reviews of this book make the mistake of viewing it as a children's book mixed with an adult's.
It is in fact another attempt to address the common Science Fiction theme of how to educate future generations as touched on in other classic works such as Ender's Game or Dune.
The essential question is:
"Adversity made our generation great.
How do we make our children's generation great without having to suffer similar adversity?"
In order to cover the author's idea of the answer to this question there is a lot of coverage of the education of one child in particular. This is essential to the plot and is interesting in how it shapes the adult the child becomes.
This is not hard Science Fiction, although there is very advanced technologly. It is soft Science Fiction as it is much more concerned with how a technology perilously close to magic in its application could affect humanity.
In the main the narrator does a superb job, her voice is pleasant to listen to and she does a convincing, if limited, range of accents.
My only niggle is that she pronounces the word 'primer' to rhyme with 'trimmer' rather than with 'timer'. It sounds ridiculous, but I found it so distracting that I almost gave the work 4 stars instead of 5.
However I did not as that would have been petty pedantry as the rest of the production is very well done.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
COLONIZE THE SOFA
This book is filled with great language. It has advanced Science Fiction gadgets and cultures. It has Dragons and Fables It tries to be all things to all people, which like usual means the plot struggles to be clear. This is probably one of the most well written books Jim, the Impatient had to give up on.
Essentially the plot becomes a psychology play with lots of symbolism, etc. I am old fashioned and need a story I can sink my teeth into. Taken separately, parts of the book are great. I also like peanut butter and I like pickles, but I don't want them together. NS had a character in the beginning who was very engaging and interesting, but that character took a long walk off a short pier and was never heard from again. A lot of people love this and you may be one of them, I got almost half way through, but could not keep my mind from wondering to other things.
I gave this book 5 stars even though the plot was somewhat predictable. The audio production is well done (as I have come to expect from Audio Renaissance).
I am an admitted technophile and I was very amused by the alternate technologies in this book. They have mastered nanotechnology but they travel by dirigible! I loved it!
This was a fun listen that I recommended to friends and family.
I have read Quicksilver and Snow Crash and enjoyed both for their new and edgy take on science fiction. The Diamond Age is fascinating from the science fiction view, but is much better than the previous books from a technical standpoint. The characters are well developed and the story is compelling. This book shows that Stephenson can use allegory and satire to show us the strengths and weakness of our current time by giving us a glimpse into his version of the future. There are many current day social and economic issues reflected in this work. It's a very stimulating read.
This was my first download from audible. I had read the novel many years ago, but was very impressed with the narration, which brought the book to life and actually added something to the experience. Her voice of the confuician judge from NY was especially fun to listen to. There was also something pleasingly self-referential about using my Ipod to listen to a book about a girl who is listening to a magic book that tells her stories.
I had started this some time ago, and hadn't gotten into it; so I put it down, just picking it up over the holiday weekend -- and I couldn't put it down. Really good story, unusal, lots of puzzles, and the narration was excellent.