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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 (4909 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tango Texas 05-19-13
    Tango Texas 05-19-13

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

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    "The rock could use a bit more polishing"

    The Diamond Age is both amazing and frustrating. The first half of the book is truly brilliant; both science fiction and fantasy woven together with beautiful Victorian-toned prose. The second half of the book is rather irritating with dangling plot points, gratuitous sex (not needed and worse yet, not erotic) and torture scenes, and ultimately a rushed ending.

    There are so many interesting sociological themes woven into this book that an English teacher could have a real field day with it. Characters are likable, settings are wonderfully vivid, but the plot gets far more convoluted than necessary. In spite of some flaws, overall, I found the book immensely entertaining, terribly imaginative, and far more literary than many sci-fi novels.

    The narrator is superb - lovely voice with excellent character voices. One of the few narrators I have heard that could do a child's voice without making me gag. I wish Audible provided a separate rating category for "audio production" because I have to rate down the performance because the audio has flaws that just shouldn't be there. Jennifer Wiltsie is most definitely a FIVE STAR narrator, but there are several places in the recordings where the sound blurs and the cut at the end of part 1 is terrible. Hence my 4 stars on the performance.

    I would recommend The Diamond Age with some caveats - this is definitely an adult novel and you have to be a reader willing to push on through some confusion to enjoy this.

    52 of 53 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" 08-04-14 Member Since 2016

    My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.

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    "SKULL GUN"

    VOMITING PROFANITY
    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.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Loveland, CO, USA 07-23-03
    Michelle Loveland, CO, USA 07-23-03
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    "Empowering Sci-Fi for Girls"

    Aside from the horrible pronunciation of the foreign (Chinese) words, the story is smart and the narrator does a great job bringing the story to life. The first hour or so seem a little confusing, but stick it through and you will get to know the main characters. The author's illustration of Shanghai and China is a remarkably accurate representation of the sights and senses of China today, of Chinese culture past and the brilliance of technology of the future.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kamran Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-18-08
    Kamran Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-18-08 Member Since 2016
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    "Wow, another excellent book from Stephenson"

    Like a lot of good authors, Stephenson has books that aren't as well known but may end up being better or as good as his best-known works. This is one of those.

    It is a different breed than Snow Crash, but I want to talk about this book in its own right. Diamond Age is almost a children's story, with the main character being a child who grows into an adult by the end of the book.

    Here's something you have to keep in mind: Neal's books take about an hour to 2 hours to understand the world they are taking place in. He usually talks a lot and goes into a lot of detail early on, using phrases and names of things that you have no idea. However, by about 2 hours in, you understand where everything is taking place and the world makes sense.

    Since this is naturally important for any book, I didn't take off a star because of it. I really enjoy his introductions to the world that he creates, because I find myself wondering and asking questions about it.

    Here's another thing to keep in mind, this book isn't for everyone... people who like technology and computing might find it more enjoyable than someone who doesn't, but I think that it can appeal to many people since it is grounded in a story about a girl growing up.

    With all that said, Diamond Age is a really, really good book. You get really drawn into the characters and a lot of that has to do with the narrator and how she reads the fairy tales from the Primer, as well as the different voices she uses for other characters. Unlike some other books in Neal's stash, Diamond Age doesn't go off on long tangents about ancient Gods or religions. Some of it is there, but it has a lot more to do with destiny and abuse of technology, or "Unforeseen Consequences."

    If you really liked Snow Crash, just be prepared for something a little more light-hearted and less "kick-ass action" oriented, but still highly enjoyable. 4/5 stars.

    66 of 70 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. M. Newman Santa Monica, CA United States 06-02-05
    C. M. Newman Santa Monica, CA United States 06-02-05 Member Since 2016

    Chris Newman

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    "Engrossing and well-read"

    This book is a brilliant imagining of the potential wonders and dangers of nanotech, but like all good science fiction it is more about the effects of technology on society than the technology itself. In a world of superabundant materials, where anything one can design through software can be built almost costlessly, what matters is how societies choose to define themselves and the meaning of a well-lived life. Hence we have futuristic technology employed by neo-Victorians and Confucians to inculcate (and subvert...) ancient values. Fascinating, with compelling characters. Certainly a more mature and subtle work than Snow Crash, much though I enjoyed the latter. And the female reader does a superb job, rendering the various accents from the neo-Victorians to the Bronx confucianism of Judge Fang so delightfully that I think listening to this is probably even better than reading it. I had difficulty getting out of my car at the end of my commute.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica/Greg Stockton, CA, USA 08-02-03
    Erica/Greg Stockton, CA, USA 08-02-03
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    "Jennifer Wiltsie is Amazing.."

    I've read this book several times, but after hearing Jennifer Wiltsie's fantastic reading of it, I'm now addicted to the audiobook. Her clear, warm voice, her dramatic timing, her ability to slip flawlessly through a female texan accent, a male new york accent, a chinese accent, and others in a single conversation... I can't wait to find other audio books she's narrated, just to hear her read them.

    The book is great, and you will never hear a Neal Stephenson book read better than by Jennifer Wiltsie.

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew South YarraAustralia 03-27-05
    Andrew South YarraAustralia 03-27-05
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    "Stephenson at his most inventive, wonderfully read"

    This is one of the first few audio books I have listened to, and this one I have actually read before. All the wonderful baroque fanciness and joy of tech that was evident in Snow Crash is present here, yet Stephenson's writing style and characterisation improves markedly.

    Stephenson's endings are often critisized (correctly in some cases) for being too open ended. I didn't find that a problem in tDA. This is not a 'travel a long way, destroy the ring and sauron, all go home' style of book, so it doesn't have that sort of ending.

    The narration is simply excellent, with appropriate accents and timbre, but not overdone or excessively stereotypical. I personally felt that one or two voices were awkward (Nell and Harv) but given that all the characters were voiced by the same speaker I could forgive that. Despite having read the book already I listened to all 16 hours, it was just that good.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steph United States 06-13-13
    Steph United States 06-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Not predictable - its wonderful!"

    I read this book probably about eight to nine years ago after I read Snowcrash. I remember not liking it as much as Snowcrash, maybe because I wanted more of the tower of babel stuff. After listening to it, I have no idea why I didn't like it as much. This book is wonderful.

    The beginning is a bit slow and the end is abrupt. At the end I did listen to a portion a couple of times to make sure I hadn't missed anything, but this book is delicious! It is full of future potential sociatal problems, science, what makes culture, how to raise children, and how to develop creativity, initiative, and fearlessness in a new generation. I thought it was fantastic.

    If you are not familiar with Stephenson he does give you a lot of detail and is very descriptive in his world building. Some are bored by this and want more action. There is action, but I like that I come away feeling I learned something. He does explain processes and science in a way that if you are not a tech or science major you will understand him and not feel condescended to - no easy chore for an author.

    The narrator was superb. Jennifer Wiltsie did a brilliant job, it was not over dramatized. Her accents were good, maybe not perfect all the time, but for the scope of accents she had to do and number of characters she did very well. Her characters were distinguishable and I believe I enjoyed listening to it more than when I read it. There were a few audio issues but Ms. Wiltsie made up for them.

    Another thing I liked about this book is it deals with raising and growing strong women from girlhood. It is not a childrens book, but not all fantasy and science fiction has strong female characters, and this book not only has them but its a main focus. If you are not usually a science fiction buff, but want a good coming of age tale, this is still worth it. Get past the first five chapters before you throw it down and call me a liar.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Magikarp Salad 06-27-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Love this book..."

    Awesome technology and extremely well written, as one would expect. Narrator is excellent. This book gets pretty crazy...and you'll need to pay attention - but the story is insanely good. It is not as action packed as Snow Crash - but I would say this is still better.

    There are 1000's of reviews and descriptions of all the important parts of this book, so I'll keep this short, but wanted to just mention - I just fell in love with little Nell - just so drawn into the story - concerned for her well being, happy when things go well for her... This is one of the books I have listened to numerous times (and will continue to).

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A WinnipegScotland 12-23-07
    A WinnipegScotland 12-23-07
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    "Avoid Abridged, choose the real thing!"

    I bought The Diamond Age back in 2001 and have listened to it three times since then -- it is just that much fun!

    This is an engaging tale of cyberpunk, nanotechnology and near-future social development, and in particular how these impact the life of Nell, our young heroine, as she grows up into a unique young woman. I loved to watch the evolution of Nell through her activity with the neo-Victorian Primer, but that is only one of a number of plot lines that intersect, and occasionally come together -- all of which are absorbing. However, if you prefer a nice linear presentation to your novels, you might find Stephenson's approach distracting. If you enjoy William Gibson, you will likely enjoy this book and its ideas (although Stephenson's earlier book, SnowCrash, is a little more Gibson-esque.)

    Kudos to the narrator who did an amazing job of the various characters and lines of the story. I found the narration some of the best of all the audible books I have listened to.

    My only gripe about the book is the ending, it all seemed to stop a little too abruptly -- but even that cannot dim my appreciation of the story overall, and on subsequent reading I have actually appreciated the ending for its open-endedness.

    I am very disappointed to see the push of the abridged versions of both this book and SnowCrash (particularly SnowCrash where the unabridged version is no longer available, a big shame since that is an even better book!). These books create a detailed view of future-society, abridgment will just fade the colour of that presentation. My recommendation is to buy the full-length versions (well, not possible for SnowCrash, but still online for DiamondAge!) and enjoy being absorbed.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr P Delic
    11/4/15
    Overall
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    "Really enjoyed this..."

    This is one of my favourite books and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it read. I have only one gripe and that is this: Being British I am used to the word 'primer' being pronounced 'prime' with an 'r' on the end not 'prim' with an 'er' on the end and I winced every time it occurred.
    This does not, however, in any way prevent me from heartily recommending this fabulous audiobook. :0) x

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Martyn. R. Winters
    Cardiff UK
    7/22/15
    Overall
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    "Slow to start, great middle, but weak ending"

    I like Neil Stephenson's work, but this is far from his best and the performance, which overall was quite good, is hampered by being a dreadful recording. I love the ideas woven into this novel, but the execution of the story lacks any suspense or drama. On top of this, the two main protagonists are wooden, and few of the other characters are sympathetic. If you want a good read by this author, avoid this novel, there's plenty of other examples that are far more fulfilling. Very disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • victoria
    wokingham, United Kingdom
    5/25/14
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    "Good story, very steampunk but it ended suddenly"
    Would you listen to The Diamond Age again? Why?

    might have a look at the book to see if there is more to the endind


    Any additional comments?

    characters got a bit muddled at the end. The book stopped so suddenly i wondered if it was cut short.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderic
    Victoria Park, Australia
    1/23/14
    Overall
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    "Well Plotted with Creative Ideas"
    What other book might you compare The Diamond Age to, and why?

    I must admit that I enjoyed Reamde better. Some of the story-telling in The Diamond age was a bit too baroque.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I enjoyed this on several levels. However, I found the character of the architect hard to engage with.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Debbie
    United Kingdom
    5/13/13
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    Performance
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    "A fascinating view of a future"

    Another well written and wonderfully case Audible buy. Not serious, quite a light 'read', very engaging, although sometimes very odd indeed; 90% would be truly interesting to my 10 yr old if I read it to him, but just a few pieces are (unnecessarily?) 'adult' so it's off limits. Neal Stephnson's imagination is boundless and he brings it to life in the fullest way. The 'revelation' towards the end felt a touch inevitable, and perhaps a bit naive, but that's OK. The actual ending was, frankly, a bit lame after such a racing storyline; as sometimes happens, it felt like the author had had enough (or perhaps had a deadline?). But overall, very entertaining and I'd recommend it to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A. E. Wright
    Liverpool UK
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "In two minds..."

    I chose this recording because I had enjoyed 'Cryptonomicon' by the same author and Neal Stephenson is certainly very inventive and imaginative, creating an entire alternative future world. Some parts of the story jogged along quickly and we made good progress together but at other times the pace slowed to a tedious crawl. Although I laughed out loud once or twice at this book I also found myself looking forward to the end - not so I could find out what happens, just so I could stop listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miriam Rosen
    7/12/15
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    "Fantastic imagination, brilliantly read."

    What a vast and interesting story, excellent characterisation and all tied together in a bow at the end. I still love Snow Crash more but I will now be reading everything Neal Stephenson has written. Or listening to them. And how great to have an English accent telling the story .

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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