The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

4.5 159
by Neal Stephenson

View All Available Formats & Editions

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


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

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Stephenson] has gotten even better. The Diamond Age Envisions the next century as brilliantly as snow crash did the day after tomorrow."—Newsweek

"[Stephenson is] the hottest science fiction writer in America...Snow Crash is without question the biggest SF novel of the 1990s. Neal's SF novel, The Diamond Age, promises more of the same. Together, they represent a new era in science fiction. People who plow through these mind-bogglers will walk around slack-jawed for days and reemerge with a radically redefined sense of reality."—Details

"Neal Stephenson is the Quentin Tarantino of postcyberpunk science fiction....Having figured out how to entertain the hell out of a mass audience, Stephenson has likewise upped the form's ante with rambunctious glee."—Village Voice

"Snow Crash drew its manic energy from the cyberpunkish conceit that anything is possible in virtual reality; in The Diamond Age the wonders of cyberspace pale before the even more dazzling powers of nanotechnology."
New York Times Book Review

"Diamond Age establishes Neal Stephenson as a powerful voice for the cyber age....At once whimsical, satirical, and cautionary."—USA Today

"Stephenson's world-building skills are extraordinary.... The Diamond Age should cement Stephenson's reputation as one of the brightest and wittiest young authors of American science fiction."—San Diego Union-Tribune

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stephenson's fourth solo novel, set primarily in a far-future Shanghai at a time when nations have been superseded by enclaves of common cultures (``claves''), abundantly justifies the hype that surrounded Snow Crash, his first foray into science fiction. Here, the author avoids the major structural problem of that book-a long lump of philosophical digression-by melding myriad perspectives and cogitations into his tale, which is simultaneously SF, fantasy and a masterful political thriller. Treating nanotechnology as he did virtual reality in Snow Crash-as a jumping-off point-Stephenson presents several engaging characters. John Percival Hackworth is an engineer living in a neo-Victorian clave, who is commissioned by one of the world's most powerful men to create a Primer that might enable the man's granddaughter to be educated in ways superior to the ``straight and narrow.'' When Hackworth is mugged, an illegal copy of the Primer falls into the hands of a working-class girl named Nell, and a most deadly game's afoot. Stephenson weaves several plot threads at once, as the paths of Nell, Hackworth and other significant characters-notably Nell's brother Harv, Hackworth's daughter Fiona and an actress named Miranda-converge and diverge across continents and complications, most brought about by Hackworth's actions and Nell's development. Building steadily to a wholly earned and intriguing climax, this long novel, which presents its sometimes difficult technical concepts in accessible ways, should appeal to readers other than habitual SF users. Author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Diamond Age, a Hugo Award-winning romp into a future nanotechnological revolution, doesn't lend itself to concise description. For what it's worth, it explores what happens when an incredibly powerful interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin, who uses it to reprogram the future of humanity. Got that? Stephenson's books rank among the most popular sf novels of recent years but require such close attention that they pose special challenges for audiobook fans. Jennifer Wiltsie's narration here is uniformly strong and well fitted to the material, but this may not be the right kind of book for the average person. Recommended for libraries that count many young and hardcore sf readers among their audiobook patrons. Originally published in 1992, Snow Crash is a popular sf novel in a genre that some wags have dubbed "cyberpunk." Listening to it is like taking an out-of-control roller coaster ride on a double helix, weaving in and out of Stephenson's fully imagined computer-generated "Metaverse" and a near-future real world comprised of bizarre microstates and a vast Mafia-controlled pizza delivery system. The central character, aptly named Hiro Protagonist, is at once a computer hacker, pizza "deliverator," and samurai swordsman. The story moves at such breakneck speed that many listeners may need to replay the first reel simply to figure out what is going on; however, the highly charged reading by actor Jonathan Davis another Frank Muller in the making helps hold everything together. Recommended for libraries catering to forward-looking sf readers. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Reprinted Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 10.76(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

For undergraduate courses on the Principles of Marketing.

An introduction to the world of marketing using a proven, practical, and engaging approach

Marketing: An Introduction shows students how customer value—creating it and capturing it—drives every effective marketing strategy. Using an organization and learning design that includes real-world examples and information that help bring marketing to life, the text gives readers everything they need to know about marketing in an effective and engaging total learning package.

The Thirteenth Edition reflects the latest trends in marketing, including new coverage on online, social media, mobile, and other digital technologies, leaving students with a richer understanding of basic marketing concepts, strategies, and practices.

Also Available with MyMarketingLabTM

This title is also available with MyMarketingLab—an online homework, tutorial, and assessment program designed to work with this text to engage students and improve results. Within its structured environment, students practice what they learn, test their understanding, and pursue a personalized study plan that helps them better absorb course material and understand difficult concepts.

NOTE: You are purchasing a standalone product; MyMarketingLab does not come packaged with this content. If you would like to purchase both the physical text and MyMarketingLab search for:

0134472497 / 9780134472492 Marketing: An Introduction Plus MyMarketingLab with Pearson eText -- Access Card Package

Package consists of:

  • 013414953X / 9780134149530 Marketing: An Introduction
  • 0134132351 / 9780134132358 MyMarketingLab with Pearson eText -- Access Card -- for Marketing: An Introduction

Meet the Author

Neal Stephenson issues from a clan of rootless, itinerant hardscience and engineering professors (mostly Pac-10, Big 10, and Big 8 with the occasional wild strain of Ivy). He began his higher education as a physics major, then switched to geography when it appeared that this would enable him to scam more free time on his university’s mainframe computer. When he graduated and discovered, to his perplexity, that there were no jobs for inexperienced physicist-geographers, he began to look into alternative pursuits such as working on cars, unimaginably stupid agricultural labor, and writing novels. His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984 and vanished without a trace. His second novel, Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller, came out in 1988 and quickly developed a cult following among water-pollution-control engineers. It was also enjoyed, though rarely bought, by many radical environmentalists. Snow Crash was written in the years 1988 through 1991 as the author listened to a great deal of loud, relentless, depressing music.

Mr. Stephenson now resides in a comfortable home in the western hemisphere and spends all of his time trying to retrofit an office into its generally dark, unlevel, and asbestos-laden basement so that he can attempt to write more novels. Despite the tremendous amounts of time he devotes to writing, playing with computers, listening to speed metal, Rollerblading, and pounding nails, he is a flawless husband, parent, neighbor, and all-around human being.

Brief Biography

Seattle, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 31, 1959
Place of Birth:
Fort Meade, Maryland
B.A., Boston University, 1981

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book rivals snow crash, neuromancer, etc. I'm extremely impressed by the hard sci fi and strong gripping narative. Worth it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book made me realize the benefits of education. Nell is no one, she is poor, crude, and is really going nowhere. However once her brother Harvey steals the Primer from Hackworth, he gives it to Nell and her journey begins. The book starts by teaching her the basics. She cannot read, so it reads to her. It teaches her defensive tactics so she can keep the book. It teaches her what exactly is sexual abuse, so that she stays healthy. This is only the beginning, though. As she gets older, the lessons become less about 'reading, writing, and arithmetic', and more philosophical, moral, and ethical. She learns about people and why they leave, and how that can be better in the end. She learns about trust, and how important it is to trust the right people. Two other little girls have their own copies of the Primer, and it gives them lessons that are tailored to them. To Fiona, Hackworth's daughter, it teaches her magical stories and new realms of thought. It develops her imagination, because that is what she is interested in developing. In the end, she becomes an actress. For Elizabeth, a granddaughter of a prominent man, the book creates a world where she is the ruler. She learns about the idea of loyalty and obedience. She later joins another group, an information cult called the CryptNet. There is another difference in their education. Elizabeth was taught by hundreds of different people. She became disillusioned by what she learned, and went off to find another group. Mainly her father, who is a strict Victorian in principle, but who has the soul of a dreamer, taught Fiona. In the Primer, he was only the dreamer so Fiona became a dreamer. And this translated to acting for her. One woman, an actor named Miranda, taught Nell. Early on, Miranda realized that she was raising someone's child, and she took it seriously. She gave up a lot of things to be there for Nell. Because of this, Nell grew up the most intelligent of the three. She grew up and took her place in history, which was to destroy existing society and change the world. I have really enjoyed this book. I read it the first time when I was in high school, and I loved it. I just reread it for this review, and I still love it for different reasons. I like the message that education, while incredibly valuable, will only take a person so far. After that, their cunning, morals, and ideas must take them the right way. Elizabeth reminded me of children who are raised by schools and universities. They are taught by lots of different people who don't really know them. Those types of students become disillusioned and rebel. Fiona shows what happens when there is no balance; she was taught only fantasy and so she immersed herself in it. Nell had balance; her individual story had an overall fairy-tale theme, but it was filled with martial arts, logic games, and moral/ethical lessons. She also had a mother figure, someone who cared for her, at least intellectually. I liked the idea of all the different societies trying to exist. I can see after all the moral corruption, a group of people going back to the Victorian ways. Overall, this book is believable as our future, and it is a future I would not mind having.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone always raves about Snow Crash and leaves Diamond Age out to dry. Here's my 2 cents... If you want a fast paced, Hollywood movie type of book then Snow Crash is for you. If you're looking for a science fiction work that takes a crack at examining the possible consequences of upcoming technologies, give DA a whirl. Both books are a good read, but DA is the one that sticks in my mind. BTW, if you're looking to match your taste to mine, I thought Cryptonomicon was only so-so.
Anonymous 7 months ago
4 stars for the curious... have not read it yet!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book as a freshman in high school and instantly loved it. I might have been a bit young for some of the content, but even so it was an incredibly influential book for me and remains so to this day. Both the content and Stephenson's style have greatly shaped my own writing and reading choices. Readers who seek thought provoking social commentary or just an interesting story will both be satisfied. I would suggest only mature high schoolers and older read this, however, because some of the sexual content and violence can be a bit graphic.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carol_in_Chicago More than 1 year ago
Flawless, like the diamond for which it is named. This is the current selection for our book club, "Futures and Fantasies." A book for technophiles who like to laugh at themselves. Stephenson's Neo-Victorians are both believable and hilarious. He does not succumb to "oh wow, new technology," but rather immerses you in it as if it were your daily reality. His writing style borrows from the Victorian with lush use colorful, unexpected, delightful simile. Lit me up like a blowtorch in a blast furnace. I truly cared about the characters. The plot and its numerous subplots kept me glued to my Nook. Altogether a satisfying read. I look forward to reading more Neal Stephenson very soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bminnella More than 1 year ago
Written like it takes place in two dimensions. The little girl in real life and the same little girl as Princess in another life. Follows her through childhood and then suddenly she is an adult. Features the earth with the different continents under a Universal government. Social classes are divided within each of these areas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first book I read, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, was excellent because the plot revolves around a little girl in a world filled with nanotechnology who gets a ‘smart book’ – a very Victorian titled "Young Lady’s Primer" – which guides her through this increasingly complex world to find her destiny ... that seemed very like the Nook itself, so the fit was perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago