Some Remarksby Neal Stephenson
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… See more details below
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
- 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.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 6.46(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.15(d)
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This is a collection of short writings that Neal Stehpenson has produced over the years. Included in the collection are some short pieces of fiction (Underconstable Proudfoot is a treasure not to be missed!), but I particularly enjoyed the essays, on topics as varied as Leibniz, growing up in a MACT (Midwestern American College Town), and the wonders of the treadmill desk. Reproduced here are also pretty extensive interviews from Slashdot and Salon, and the transcript of a lecture delivered at Gresham College. All in all, an excellent smorgasbord from one of my favorite authors.
Good, not great. Somewhat of a letdown after In the Beginning... Was the Command Line, a much more focused collection of essays on computer science and computer philosophy. Highlights of this collection include: the Slashdot interview (where he recounts his epic battle with the Immortal William Gibson), Metaphysics in the Royal Society (Newton and Leibniz finding a place for their own religion in scientific inquiry), Under-Constable Proudfoot (you've heard half the joke already), and Locked In ("Your communications satellite has to be the size, shape, and weight of a hydrogen bomb."). As a whole it is, while fascinating enough, very inconsistent. It is undoubtedly due to the essays spanning two decades of a career, but also that the content itself is in isolation, lacking adequate context (Mother Earth, Mother Board needs half of its pagecount to become interesting). Reading the weaker chapters is like hanging over a precipice. Or they are flat out incomprehensible. Where I'd recommend In the Beginning... to anybody, this one is probably more suited for cemented Stephenson fans.