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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite remarkable, 21 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Some Remarks (Hardcover)
Neal Stephenson is a knowledgeable, idiosyncratic writer with an interest in not only current and future technology (which is standard-issue for other writers of science fiction), but also its history. The former was his sure companion when he wrote the classic Snow Crash, and it was the latter which led him into writing his sprawling (but relentlessly fascinating) Baroque Cycle. Here, he collects together a couple of short stories (one of which is his early cyberspace tale "Spew", previously only available (I think) in the 1996 Hackers anthology) with several non-fiction pieces that have previously appeared in places like "Wired" magazine. These range from a learned discussion of the metaphysics of Liebniz and an introduction to Everything and More, David Foster Wallace's book about the history of infinity, to Stephenson's musings on how important science fiction is (or isn't) as a genre and his view of geeking out (concentrating on arcane detail) and vegging out (letting the whole thing wash over you). In between, you get his lengthy travelogue about his efforts in the mid-90s to get a ringside seat for the laying of the so-called "longest wire on Earth" - i.e. the Fibre-optic Link Around the Globe, and other gems such as his (entirely persuasive) advocacy of why walking around (instead of sitting down) all day at the office is really good for you.

I greatly enjoyed this stimulating collection; its variety keeps things moving along, and Stephenson has the gift of carrying the reader with him on his journeys. For example, he opens his piece about the longest wire on Earth - which you might be forgiven for thinking an uninteresting or unpromising subject - with "Information moves, or we move to it. Moving to it has rarely been popular and is growing unfashionable; nowadays we demand that the information come to us." [p121], which provides an instant and intriguing justification for the importance of what he's going to be talking about. Highly recommended.
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Review Details

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Jeremy Walton
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Sidmouth, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 630