The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

October 2003

I just can't help but like Neal Stephenson's writing. It's true that his stories seem to go off in a million different directions at once and never really resolve properly, and it's true that his books tend to start with a bang, blast ahead at full tilt, and then kind of stumble to a halt - but they're still great. The Diamond Age, like Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, is packed full of innovative ideas and likable characters (and kudos to Stephenson for consistently presenting strong female characters - that's not too common in science fiction). The story starts off with a brilliant neo-Victorian creating a nanotechnological book - The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer - which accidentally falls into the hands of a poor young girl, Nell. What ensues is a convoluted, Alice-in-Wonderland type of adventure which winds up irrevocably changing Nell's life and humanity as a whole. Interesting characters pop up and disappear again, ideas go whizzing by, and at times it's not entirely clear what the heck is going on - but it's an enormously entertaining ride.

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