By Neal Stephenson
Published in 1995
Thibault’s Score: 3/5
(This review does not contain any spoilers.)
This may be the weirdest book that I have ever read.
I rarely read fiction books. This book reminded me why.
Diamond Age has a lot of interesting technology ideas jam packed into it: ideas about the future of education, nanotechnology, virtual reality, warfare, travel, etc… It also explores how a stateless anarcho-capitalist society might look like, which is always great.
However, for every interesting idea that is explored in Diamond Age, there are frustrating problems which partially ruin the book.
First, the book has a number of plot holes that don’t make sense. There are also a number of weird, gratuitous, and rapey sex scenes. the first two thirds of the book are great, but the last third of the book is predominantly about orgies and wild sex. The motivations of characters are often confusing - it seems like many characters do things because Stephenson wants them to act in a certain way, not because it would make sense for them to act in those ways given the variables of their universe. All combat and fighting is cringy and unrealistic. Most infuriating, many questions are raised that are never answered. A number of characters disappear, with no explanation or further mention.
These problems are not present in the beginning of the book, but slowly become increasingly ubiquitous. By the end of Diamond Age, the book devolves into a meaningless postmodern literary experiment in chaos.
The book takes place in the same universe as Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, and Diamond Age, although there is no need to read the books in order, and each constitutes a standalone story. The three books are separated by decades / centuries.
Few books have been as recommended to me as Diamond Age. Due to the overwhelming wave of recommendations from friends, my wife and I decided to read it.
Like Snow Crash, I didn’t find it particularly interesting. It was interesting, but wasn’t by any means great.
After reading Diamond Age and Snow Crash, I am now completely sure of one thing: Neal Stephenson is definitely insane.
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