Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Neal Stephenson’s next book! I’ve been waiting with pleasant anticipation since hearing about it earlier in the year and preordered it from Amazon this month.
It’s not necessary to know anything about it. I’ll be at the front of the line for anything new from Neal, no questions asked. However, I was happy to see that Steven Levy wrote a piece about Stephenson and the book for Wired 16.09:
“Novelist Neal Stephenson Once Again Proves He’s King of the Worlds”
Excellent article, although I was disappointed to learn he works for patent troll Nathan Myhrvold at Intellectual Vultures. I’m sure he’s working with interesting people on fascinating projects, but still. These guys are trying to own ideas, which is thoroughly distasteful.
(There are also a couple of videos on the book’s Amazon page of Stephenson talking about the book and reading from it.)
I was first introduced to Stephenson in Snow Crash. Fun book. I hear from so many people that consider this to be the first and last Stephenson book, which I think is sad, since his later books are so much more rewarding. That’s just my humble opinion, of course. It’s understandable to not always follow along with an author. For example: to me, early Larry Niven is the best Niven. Later Niven is a big turnoff.
I liked the first half of Diamond Age very much, but thought the second half sputtered.
I was thoroughly blown away by Cryptonomicon. A joy to read. One of those books I was sad to see the end coming, because I didn’t want to leave its world. People will complain that it rambles and should have been edited down to a tight 300-page book, but they’re crazy. Random digressions are one of its key features.
With the 3,000 page Baroque Cycle, I ran aground for a while. I got bogged down about 400 pages into the first volume: Quicksilver. I put the book down for over a year, disappointed that the author of Cryptonomicon could have followed up with such a clunker. Then, for reasons that escape me now, I picked it up again, and am so thankful that I did. Having read the whole thing, I gained a huge amount of trust in Mr. Stephenson. He can really tell a story. By the end of Quicksilver, I was as immersed in it as much as I had been in Cryptonomicon, and I still had the next two volumes to look forward to. It felt a little bit like living through the era of the books: late seventeenth and early eighteenth century Europe. Experiencing the times for myself.
I read Zodiac, but don’t remember it well. I thought I enjoyed it at the time. I suspect I didn’t really “get” it. And there is his first, The Big U, which I didn’t finish.
You may have noticed that my comments about his previous books amount to little more than “I liked it!” or “I didn’t like it as much as the others.” What are the books about?, you may wonder. That’s what the Amazon book reviews are for. People there do a much better and worse job of reviewing books than me.