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Publisher's Summary

One of the most talented and creative authors working today, Neal Stephenson is renowned for his exceptional novels - works colossal in vision and mind-boggling in complexity. Exploring and blending a diversity of topics, including technology, economics, history, science, pop culture, and philosophy, his books are the products of a keen and adventurous intellect. Not surprisingly, Stephenson is regularly asked to contribute articles, lectures, and essays to numerous outlets, from major newspapers and cutting-edge magazines to college symposia. This remarkable collection brings together previously published short writings, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a new essay (and an extremely short story) created specifically for this volume.

Stephenson ponders a wealth of subjects, from movies and politics to David Foster Wallace and the Midwestern American College Town; video games to classics-based sci-fi; how geekdom has become cool and how science fiction has become mainstream (whether people admit it or not); the future of publishing and the origins of his novels. Playful and provocative, Some Remarks displays Stephenson's opinions and ideas on

  • The Internet, our dwindling national attention span, and the cultural importance of books and bookishness;
  • Waco, religion, and the cluelessness of secular society;
  • Metaphysics and the battle between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz;
  • The laying of the longest wire on Earth - and why it matters to you;
  • Technology, freedom, commerce, and the Chinese;
  • How Star Wars and 300 mirror who we are today and what that spells for our future; and
  • Modern Jedi knights, a.k.a. scientists and technologists, and why they are admired and feared by both the left and the right.

By turns amusing and profound, critical and celebratory, yet always entertaining, Some Remarks offers a fascinating look into the prismatic mind of this extraordinary writer.

©2008 Neal Stephenson (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What listeners say about Some Remarks

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Worth a revisit

Would you listen to Some Remarks again? Why?

Although I read several of these pieces when they were originally published (FLAG, Slashdot) I've enjoyed revisiting them. Although I loved "Reamde," I don't have time this month to get sucked in for 30 hours, so this collection of shorter pieces is great.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Jeff Cummings?

Maybe. This is perhaps not the best material for an audio treatment, and Cummings does a good job, overall. I wish he knew Stephenson's vocabulary better. ASCII is pronounced with an "aye-aye," or, better, as "as-key," and Stephenson and his readers would reflexively cringe, as I did, at "a-ess-see-two." Neal wrote "In The Beginning Was The Command Line;" he knows from 8-bit character encoding and that's one of the things I like best about him. To mispronounce that sort of vocabulary makes the narrator obvious. Like an offensive lineman, a narrator is rarely noticed for good performance.

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

Not really, since it's a collection of essays best take in discrete chunks.

12 people found this helpful

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A mix of entertaining pieces--best for fans

I hadn't read much Stephenson outside of his books, many of which I have read (the ones I haven't read make a much shorter list).

This was a good smattering of pieces (well, I anticipate it will be; I've had it in my library for four days and it's half gone already).

My only complaint is that the narrator #FAILs in geek vocab: ASCII is pronounced as-key, not a-es-see-two, and mojo is pronounced moe-joe, not moe-hoe.

You'd think the producer could pick up the phone and ask someone rather than guessing...

The good news is these miscues are rather rare in this book.

If you're a Stephenson fan and sort of know what he's about, this is a good read. If you're a die-hard Stephenson fan and you've read everything you can get your hands on, this might be worth a shot. I am happy I spent my credit on this one.


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Great book needed a better informed narrator

The narrator had no concept of the technical jargon and acronyms in the book and it was painful to listen through

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Not exactly what I expected...

A lot of old stuff, but fairly enjoyable. I basically expected Mr Stephenson speaking with the reader about things, but the book was interviews/ articles with a few short stories thrown in between. The short stories were actually quite good. Ive purchased short stories from other authors I have enjoyed and found them to be dreadful, with no question in my mind as to why the stories were not made into novels. I find myself wishing this book was more- without regretting my use of a credit on it. By the way, I am fascinated with the treadmill desk, and am planning on giving it a try.

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A good read for Stephenson fans...

What about Jeff Cummings’s performance did you like?

Cummings gives exactly the right voice for Stephenson's prose. He gets the inflections right, and makes Stephonson's deep-dive geeking fun and entertaining.

Any additional comments?

I found this book shed light on a lot of the questions I ponder when reading Stephenson's various works. Questions like, "how did he ever come up with this?" If you have not read Stephenson, don't start with this. If you enjoyed books like Cryptonomicon, Anathem, and the Baroque Cycle, this is for you.

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Good collection of essays, coffee with Neal

This is as close as you or I will probably get to a conversation with Neal Stephenson. He has a lot of interesting things to say in this collection of essays, glimpses into his other works, and the working of his mind. The mid American college town mentality, in the forward to “Everything and more”, by David Foster Wallace, paints a good autobiographical sketch of Neal’s milieu. His sparkling intelligence is evident everywhere. Thank you Neal. Keep writing!

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His battles with Gibson are epic

A rare opportunity to hear his opinions on a myriad of topics. it was a quick listen and filled in some blind spots I had when it came to understanding the person.