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The Diamond Age Audiobook

The Diamond Age

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Publisher's Summary

In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson took science fiction to dazzling new levels. Now, in The Diamond Age, he delivers another stunning tale. Set in 21st-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens when a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life, and the entire future of humanity, is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.

©1995 Neal Stephenson; (P)2001 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 1996

  • Locus Award Winner, Best Novel, 1996

"The Quentin Tarantino of postcyberpunk science fiction." (The Village Voice)
"[He] is the hottest science fiction writer in America." (Details)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (5012 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Libeth Tempero 10-22-17
    RATINGS
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    10
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    "An extreme book"

    This would be my favorite book ever except the for strong sexual content. Necessary to the story but to me unsettling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Balt M. 10-21-17
    Balt M. 10-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    "An interesting vision of a decentralized future"

    This book is a vision of a possible decentralized future. The book is about a future Earth where human society has become decentralized in money but not in power or education. Decentralization caused the collapse of the nation-state but central authorities based on cultural superiority still remain. Some cultures succeed in controlling more raw physical power by attracting or educating particular types of minds. The power to destroy or create by the manipulation of matter is controlled by central authorities which aggressively defend their position of authority in order to maintain order. As a result, educational content and methods are tuned by central authorities to churn out people who are likely to preserve the status quo; a major side effect is that this education tends to punish intelligent creatives. Loyal engineers of technologically powerful central authorities enjoy support in education and research but they avoid building any new technology that could be considered subversive. Intelligent creatives that become engineer-hackers who do not self-censor are therefore more likely to create powerful new technology had they the means but lack the material resources that central authorities could give them. This book contains a story where one central authority gives resources to one engineer-hacker with the explicit mandate to create an easily-copied education computer that teaches subversiveness as well as technological competency. The resulting story explores issues around the decentralization of power (what happens as it becomes easier and easier for individuals to cheaply and quickly make any tool or weapon) and the decentralization of education (the titular Young Lady's Illustrated Primer).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Jastrzebski Amherst, NH, US 10-04-17
    James Jastrzebski Amherst, NH, US 10-04-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Bad audio quality, otherwise great."

    The recording quality is poor, tinny and occasionally garbled, as if the mic were not plugged in right. pity. The voice work is great and the story is captivating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Quinn 08-26-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent plot and performance"

    i think this was even better as an audio book. story and concepts are excellent, Neil Stephenson is a gifted futurist weaving culture and technology with emotion to create thought provoking entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 08-26-17
    08-26-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A flawed, but worthwhile listen"

    I'd recommend this with some reservation. I feel like this is a really ambitious book. It's grand and daring. But, perhaps because of this, the pacing is off, time moves unpredictably, characters drop out of the book jarringly. However, the author does a wonderful job of building a complex world that is at first confusing and hard to parse but comes into focus in a pleasurable way. The characters are well thought out and interesting as a whole as well. The audio performance is magnificent and the performer does a great job. The between-chapter interludes in particular are a nice touch. I did notice a handful (like maybe 3-5) audio distortion glitches happen about 2/3 of the way in, but they were a minor annoyance. Unfortunately the book leaves you with many questions that will never be satisfactorily answered. It's worth a listen, but will leave you wanting more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 08-23-17
    08-23-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Meandering story they goes no where"

    No consistent Antagonist. Endless introduction of new characters and ethnic groups many of which lead nowhere in the story. Author writes beautiful complicated prose, but lacks any sort of engaging story that holds together. I almost have up half way through and wish I had as it wasn't a good use of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam D. Parchen Rasmussen Washington D.C. 08-01-17
    Adam D. Parchen Rasmussen Washington D.C. 08-01-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrific"

    A great book, though it becomes somewhat less interesting as it progresses and then focus shifts from Nell to Hackworth. Some of the technical aspects of the "wet net" and the "keys" were hard to understand, although I suspect computer scientists and engineers would. The ending leaves much unsaid, which may be frustrating. Still, an engaging book that raises questions about technology and culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Travis Schott 07-30-17
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    "Loved it!"

    This book tells a fantastic story while exploring the implications of nanotechnology from many angles, including the differing philosophies of the East and West. An excellent listen overall

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robert martin davison 07-26-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing"

    The book was very thought provoking and imaginative. Powerfully written and narrated. I wonder what will happen next in the character's lives.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 05-29-17
    Tom 05-29-17
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    "Thrilling"
    What did you love best about The Diamond Age?

    Thrilling, new, beginning to end. I love the realistic characters, good and bad.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Diamond Age?

    Nell first talking to the book.


    Which character – as performed by Jennifer Wiltsie – was your favorite?

    Nell


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • David
    Oxford, England
    4/30/08
    Overall
    "It's good, but"

    There are lots of things to like about this book, and lots of things to like about the author. He's really imaginative; the worlds he creates are exotic but believable - and Diamond Age is no exception. And the story in many places is really good - at times gripping. There's a but coming though . . . three things. Firstly, the storylines can get so cokmplicated it's at times difficult to follow. Secondly, it is surely impossible to pronounce primer 'primmer'. Probably not he author's fault, granted, and possibly unreasonable but NO. Finally, it's a disappointing ending - the book builds up to a great ending . . . and then it just stops. But overall a good read, loads going on and just about worth the effort.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    HINCKLEY, United Kingdom
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth the time - if you can deal with the quality"

    This is, for the most part, a wholly enjoyable audiobook.

    Neal Stephenson writes gripping, often very long and complex stories and this is no exception. I don't believe it to be his best - I thought that (subjectively speaking) Reamde was a better story overall - and it is a bit slow getting started but the level of invention and imagination on display is fabulous. Once the world the characters inhabit is described and the characters themselves are introduced it develops an express-train like momentum leading to the perhaps slightly underwhelming conclusion.

    The narration from Jennifer Wiltsie is top notch: well characterised and performed. I'm maintaining my performance stars despite common complaints on here about the word "primer" being pronounced "primmer". It may be jarring to the British Ear but that is quite normal in American English.

    So why only 3 stars overall? Frankly, despite downloading the best quality version I could, it sounds like the story was recorded over the telephone with even some "old-skool" interference on the line at times to maintain the feel. It may be an old recording and cheap but this is far below the standard I'd expect from Audible.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Beccameriel
    London, United Kingdom
    8/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I love the story but..."

    .. was wildly irritated every time the othewise excellent narrator said "primmer" for "primer". Aaargh. I know it's a tiny thing but it was constantly distracting as it's a word that is said rather often.

    That aside ("primmer" - bleugh) it's a cracking listen and full of wild flights of nano-tech fancy. Although I did get a bit bored in the company of the drummers. The New Victorian enclave was so much more fascinating.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    Chinnor, United Kingdom
    7/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable - strange in places"

    Neal Stephenson creates an wonderful universe - full of clever ideas and concepts which weave their way through what is a very enjoyable story. Jennifer Wiltsie has a beguiling voice - switching from character to character with ease and good distinction between them. Like most other English people I did find the pronunciation of primer (said here "primmer") irritating - but it doesn't take a lot to get used to it and presumably that's how American's pronounce it.

    I did find some parts a little too weird - at times I found that the story world was being stretched a little too far. However - it was a good read/listen and I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of science fiction/fantasy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Leon
    Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
    7/10/10
    Overall
    "I wish I could be a neo-Victorian nano-engineer"

    2000 characters is inadequate to describe the number of mind blowing moments in this book where the concepts are revealled in a such a way that you can guess what's going on whilst also setting you up to be blown away at the exact moment that all of the pieces fall into place. Quite clever use of characters that fade into the background, only to turn out to be the main protagonists all along. Innumerable innovations, in particular the book of smart paper sheets connected by a data backbone in the spine; nanomaterial matter compilers that take signed matter feeds, and then underground unregistered feeds reserved for nefarious purposes; and the drummer network, the most ingenious and mind blowing concept. This is all held together by the use of the story within the story of the Primer, and how it plays a part in the conspiracy and revolution. The only problem I have is wanting to be in this world already. Well I guess it isn't that far away.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    CambridgeUnited Kingdom
    1/14/11
    Overall
    "Diamond Age - rough diamond of an audio"

    long - 18 hrs - enthralling and enchanting, as captivating as the book originally was. The only problem has been that there are occasional distortions in the sound, enough to notice and remember, but not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the tale.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alex
    Warrington, United Kingdom
    3/6/13
    Overall
    "the book's good"

    But the narration suffers a serious flaw: "primer" is pronounced as "primmer" throughout.



    I love the book, own it on paper as well, and the narrator has a lovely voice.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • El Mikel
    Christchurch
    2/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful story, wonderfully read."

    The world building, technology and characters are masterfully constructed. Although I would expect nothing less from Neal Stephenson.
    And the reader evokes the tale beautifully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michele Bianchi
    Trento, Italy
    12/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A cyberpunk gem"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Diamond Age to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version of "The Diamond Age", but the quality of the narrator could easily overshadow the printed version.


    What other book might you compare The Diamond Age to, and why?

    Take "Snow Crash" and any recent book on technology assisted teaching device design and mix them together masterfully. I cannot think of anything similar.


    Have you listened to any of Jennifer Wiltsie’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I did not listen to other performances by the narrator, but this one, albeit its low audio quality, was very good, maybe the best I have heard as of now.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, if I had the opportunity this could have surely been a one sitting audiobook.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is not only interesting for Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk fans, but also to people designing technologies (I pursued a PhD in affective computing), as it shows that every "revolutionary" idea HCI experts are selling in their papers are nothing new and, actually, could be better if they read through books like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Valerie
    Highworth, Swindon, Wilts.
    10/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wired"

    I sent this book back. It was the oddest thing I've ever read. The narrator also seemed to be in a great hurry to get it over with. So much so, that I had to slow the narration down in order to listen. The story was confusing and confused. I really like Neal Stephenson's work but I wonder about this one...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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