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Diamond Age Hardcover – 2002


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Hardcover, 2002
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  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: EASTON PRESS (2002)
  • ASIN: 0141886285
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

More About the Author



Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer, known for his speculative fiction works, which have been variously categorized science fiction, historical fiction, maximalism, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk. Stephenson explores areas such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system.

Born in Fort Meade, Maryland (home of the NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum) Stephenson came from a family comprising engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.

Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic "The Baroque Cycle" (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard on 20 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
First and foremost, 'The Diamond Age' is a fantastic novel and a yardstick of Post-Cyberpunk fiction. The writing is superb, the characters are compelling, and the universe that Stephenson describes is a fascinating extrapolation of our own. It starts off promisingly with the cheeky demise of an archetypal Cyberpunk protagonist, setting the scene for the emotional and intellectual development of his child Nell via an interactive, nanotechnological book - the 'Primer'. The Primer acts as an electronic tutor, storyteller and protector that guides and oversees Nell's education and entry into adolescence.

The scope of the text is astounding, painting a portrait of a world where the ubiquity of nanotechnology has irreversibly altered human society from entertainment to warfare to economic worth. Stephenson's future is a world where nation states have collapsed to be replaced by 'phyles', socio-economic groups that partition cities into the differing communities and which cooperate under a global economic law. Foremost among these are the Neo-Victorians, an atavistic and economically advantaged phyle with a rigid social structure by whom the Primer is developed. After the engineer who covertly created it loses a copy, warfare begins to brew while little Nell is caught in the middle with her illicit Primer.

If the novel suffers from anything it is an overabundance of ideas that leaves the overall image somewhat muddled and susceptible to Occam's razor. The different storylines, gripping as they are, never weave together in a satisfactory conclusion and some characters seem to vanish along the way.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. J. Stewart on 10 Mar 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the best of Neal Stephenson's books - long enough to be interesting but not excessively so as later books become.

BUT the e-book seems to have been scanned and OCR'd rather than taken from the original copy. The subsequent proof-reading is very sketchy and possibly done by someone less literate than NS (or his fans) who does not know all the words. At all events there is a wholly unacceptable number of silly mis-readings that are sometimes hard to guess (so one has to consult the paper copy!).

The publishers should be ashamed of themselves!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Richard on 17 Jun 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm not a Sci-Fi fan but, after reading Drexler's fascinating Engines of Creation: the coming era of nanotechnology, I was curious to see what future Stephenson had imagined with this revolutionary technology. The author envisions an impressive number of interesting applications, some fairly predictable (e.g. matter compilers fed by water and air purifying stations, "smart" multimedia paper), some a lot less so (e.g. skull guns, lighter-than-air shields, nanotech-enhanced actors). But it becomes clearer and clearer that what the author is most interested in is computer science in general, and artificial intelligence in particular. Given the fact that Stephenson has also written In the beginning... was the command line, this shouldn't be such a surprise, and, far from being regrettable, it is in fact what gives the book its true dimension.
As the subtitle (A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer) suggests, this book is about a very special kind of book, for the Primer is so "intelligent" that it can adapt its fully interactive on-going didactic narrative to the needs and wishes of its owner, gradually developing his or her own ability to adapt and solve problems to the maximum. I found this to be a brilliant theme, because it depicts future technology as a means of improving the minds of people, eventually allowing them to reach their greatest potential. Stephenson appears a little narrow-minded, however, when it turns out that the Primer's tutorial only culminates with lessons on computer science and nanotechology.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By WDBonett on 12 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
Various comments for this run as 'good but not Snow Crash' 'great but flawed' 'good but not Cryptonomicon'. This book is simply superb. I thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books, but for me this is the pinnacle. A world struggling to get to grips with the differences that seperate us, uses a tribal approach to create regions for people to live their chosen lives. This politcal world is imbued with Stephenson's usual array of amazing technology, and extraordinary concepts. The most powerful of these is a book with the ability to adapts its lessons instantaneously to its reader's needs, and a little girl with power to reshape everything. I loved the (for me very real) possiblities D/A opens up, and I want one of those books!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Bentley on 31 Dec 2004
Format: Paperback
From the other reviews on this site, much has obviously been made of the fact that this book contains 'racist' themes. I've now read this book three times, and have never got the impression that the author's intent was to cause any offence to any country, race or culture.
In fact, Stephenson pokes as much fun at the 'Neo-Victorians', and their overly pompous pastiche of 19th century British life, as he does at the other 'philes' featured in the book. What he creates is a rich cast of futuristic characters which, to my mind at least, represent caricatures, rather than indictments, of various regional personalities and their inherent traditions. In doing so he fashions something far more feasible among the fantasy genre than many other, more extreme utopian/dystopian, visions.
The range of ideas explored is fantastic, ranging from the moral to the philosophical to the scientific. Although the ending is indeed disappointing and somewhat unbelievable - even for a science fiction book - in the context of the rest of the story, the main body of the tale should keep you more than a little hooked.
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