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Neal Stephenson's "Anathem" Due In September

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-a-moment-too-soon dept.

Books 248

Alexander Rose writes "Neal Stephenson's new novel, ANATHEM, germinated in 01999 when Danny Hillis asked him and several other contributors to sketch out their ideas of what the Millennium Clock might look like. Stephenson tossed off a quick sketch and promptly forgot about it. Five years later however, when he was between projects, the idea came back to him, and he began to explore the possibility of building a novel around it. ANATHEM is the result, and will be released on September 9th, 02008." Read Rose's complete posting for more information about the release of the book, which he describes as set "in a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle."

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248 comments

01999? 02008? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24288715)

douchebag much?

Re:01999? 02008? (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288777)

No, obviously since it starts with a zero it's in octal. Mmmmh.. except for some reason calc.exe doesn't like 8s and 9s when I try to punch these as octal numbers...

Temporal sickness? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24288745)

01999

02008

Can I have some of whatever your smokin'?

Re:Temporal sickness? (5, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288873)

No, it makes perfect sense, the guy is just a visionary.

Currently we only think of 4 digit years, but the guy thinks out the box and has foreseen that one day, sooner or later, probably in a few millenniums, we will have 5 digit years, and that then just like we already put a bunch of zeros for years before the year 1000 we will one day put zeros for years before the year 10000!

And allow me to blow your mind by predicting that one day we will reach 100000 and that therefore we might as well start right now writing it 002008!

Re:Temporal sickness? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24288925)

Why would we? We don't prefix years before 1000 A.D. with a 0.

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289019)

Why would we? We don't prefix years before 1000 A.D. with a 0.

WHOOOOOSH! Oh shit, and there we go again! Now I'm going to have to explain a dozen times again how I was being sarcastic.

Re:Temporal sickness? (5, Funny)

dryueh (531302) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289623)

WHOOOOOSH! Oh shit, and there we go again! Now I'm going to have to explain a dozen times again how I was being sarcastic.

000012 times??!

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288955)

The problem of Y2K wasn't that we didn't have enough extra digits reserved, but the fact that we were lopping off significant ones and storing the year incorrectly (e.g. as "99" when the actual value was 1900 off from that).

Padding years with a leading zero isn't forward-looking, it's naively self-centered, assuming that people will still be using our silly "Anno Domini" year-counting system eight millennia from now. (I mean... don't you people even watch Star Trek?)

Re:Temporal sickness? (1, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289037)

1) Nobody talked about Y2K. It was all in your head.

2) *sigh* whoosh..

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289125)

Stop wooshing. If that many people didn't get 'it', you had to be clearer.

Re:Temporal sickness? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289313)

Stop wooshing. If that many people didn't get 'it', you had to be clearer.

Sure, if by "be clearer" you mean "stop being even the slightest bit subtle and sarcastic".

Re:Temporal sickness? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289683)

I see you're one of slashdot's many elitists. I'm sorry we don't get your 'humor'.

Re:Temporal sickness? (0, Flamebait)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289945)

I see you're one of slashdot's many elitists. I'm sorry we don't get your 'humor'.

No really, you've got to be shitting me. If you don't see the sarcasm in the original post, you either expect other people to be abysmally absurd/stupid or you're yourself abysmally dense.

But yeah, sorry about my elitism, I shouldn't expect as much as basic sarcasm detection from people like you.

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Informative)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289685)

In Star Trek they in fact did use the Gregorian Calendar, as well as stardates

Re:Temporal sickness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289971)

"naively self-centered"?? Isn't that the way people feel when putting their own words (like "i am trying to be forward-looking") into other people's mouths?

Isn't it actually just as "naively self-centered" to think people will use our method of dropping leading 0's (in terms of scientific precision) for the next 10000 years? ;)

but also I don't know about "it makes perfect sense, this guy is a visionary" part you're replying to... i guess it's really down to "fanboy vs. troll: round 80103838. FIGHT!".

Re:Temporal sickness? (5, Funny)

maniac/dev/null (170211) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289173)

For that matter, shouldn't it be September 09, 02008? I mean, there will come a time when we need to use days higher than 9, people!

Re:Temporal sickness? (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289301)

For that matter, shouldn't it be 0September 09, 02008?

There, fixed it for you!

Re:Temporal sickness? (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289975)

Middle Endians, I spit upon thee for using the system that makes the least amount of sense. The only correct date format is 09092008.

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Informative)

Karellen (104380) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289447)

But this problem has already been solved in a backwards-compatible way.

See RFC 2550 - Y10K and Beyond [ietf.org].

Re:Temporal sickness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24290203)

This specification provides a solution to the "Y10K" problem which has also been called the "YAK" problem (hex) and the "YXK" problem (Roman numerals).

Wouldn't Roman numerals make it the "YMMMMMMMMMM" problem?

Re:Temporal sickness? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289619)

And allow me to blow your mind by predicting that one day we will reach 100000 and that therefore we might as well start right now writing it 002008!

I will take that bet. I don't see us getting to 9999.

Re:Temporal sickness? (2, Insightful)

s.d. (33767) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289663)

And allow me to blow your mind by predicting that one day we will reach 100000 and that therefore we might as well start right now writing it 002008!

No one now writes 100 A.D. as 0100 A.D. Why do you predict they'll change this in the future?

Re:Temporal sickness? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289973)

And allow me to blow your mind by predicting that one day we will reach 100000 and that therefore we might as well start right now writing it 002008! No one now writes 100 A.D. as 0100 A.D. Why do you predict they'll change this in the future?

Good Lord how bloody obvious must a sarcasm be so that I don't get a dozen such remarks?? I mean look at the first half of the very line you quoted, how serious do you think that sounds for God's sake?!?

Re:Temporal sickness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24290151)

it doesn't have to be obvious, but it can at least be funny.

Smoking dollar bills most likely * . (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288889)

The Long Now Foundation:
10,000 Year Membership
We now offer a millennial opportunity for a non-transferable 10,000-year membership to The Long Now Foundation. This Membership costs ten thousand dollars and the first 7 10,000 Year Members receive a unique signed and numbered print from Brian Eno.

Actually I understand they're preparing for the next software/overflow bug.

* so that would be cocaine ?

Re:Smoking dollar bills most likely * . (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289297)

We now offer a millennial opportunity for a non-transferable 10,000-year membership to The Long Now Foundation. This Membership costs ten thousand dollars

Shoot, why didn't I think of this? This is genius! On par with the guy who came up with the idea of selling star names!

The only question that really matters (3, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288753)

Will he write an ending for it, or will it just sort of stop in mid-page?

Re:The only question that really matters (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288783)

You know, when his endings can be a river of molten gold saving the day, I think I'm OK with him just skipping that part.

Re:The only question that really matters (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288921)

I always thought that had to be a satire on happy endings. Taken that way, you can almost forgive him for it.

Re:The only question that really matters (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289409)

Nah, it was just fucking postmodern. That's one of the rules of postmodern writing: Don't resolve anything.

The secret to reading postmodern fiction is trying to figure out what he was really talking about. The gold was a metaphor: if they were really trying to remove the gold from the mountain, that was about the worst way to do it, and, on top of that, remember that there were jewels and artwork in there as well, which would be destroyed by such a method.

The "pumping the mountain full of gas" thing was reminiscent of Bobby Shaftoe's death (with him pumping the bunker full of gas and lighting it), so he was probably drawing a parallel there.

Re:The only question that really matters (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289895)

The river of molten gold wasn't an ending either. It was just a convenient stopping place until the sequel, which he doesn't seem to have any intention of writing.

Re:The only question that really matters (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290165)

Randy's got the girl, the baddie is dead and they've found the treasure. How much more ending are you looking for, exactly?

Re:The only question that really matters (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289127)

Will he write an ending for it, or will it just sort of stop in mid-page?

Wait... Neal didn't write the final episode of The Sopranos, did he?

No, no... he wrote the secret alternate final episode where Tony sets up a data haven in East Orange, New Jersey in order to get at the Civil War gold hidden by steam powered robots that fled Sicily in 1860. He puts his son in charge, but A.J. whines like a bitch until even his own sister, Meadow, finally has enough and whacks him herself. And then there's a four hour monologue by the ghost of Big Pussy.

Re:The only question that really matters (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289853)

Ouch, that is a scathing review, and sadly, kind of accurate to the kind of batshit craziness that is Neil.

Re:The only question that really matters (3, Informative)

Kostya (1146) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289193)

Amen, brother. I can't figure out if Stephenson thinks it artistic or something to end his books like that. For me, it's just a sign of bad writing. There are all sorts of stuff you think are artsy until you improve your craft--and then you realize you were just excusing crap work under a label of "artistic."

For once, I'd like a Stephenson book with a decent ending. I think the only quasi-ending he has ever written might be the ending of the Baroque Cycle. But is that an ending or beating a subject matter to death so thoroughly that there is nothing left to say? ;-)

I say this all as a big fan. For me, his books are great right up until the end, where I am promised a very dissatisfying, unresolved end to the book. And for no good reason as near as I can tell. Doesn't stop me from reading them--but it also doesn't stop me from complaining either :-)

Re:The only question that really matters (3, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289861)

What's wrong with the ending of Snow Crash? Do you really need spelled out what happened after that, like in a fairy tale? And if you do, I figure you find little enjoyment in most novels that were written after, say, 1870.

Re:The only question that really matters (2, Interesting)

Deathdonut (604275) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289995)

Stephenson is definately more about the trip than destination in most of his books. The worst offender was Diamond Age. He spends the time to develope a compelling world and empathetic main character only to hand the book off to his 11 year old nephew to write an ending. (You must write AT LEAST 3 pages, Johnny!) Snow crash was almost as bad. By the time Cryptonomicon rolled around, he finally started to get an idea that the ending should be planned in advance and seemed to do a reasonable job, though many still complain about it. With the Baroque Cycle books, I could almost picture him sitting in his laboratory (because that's where he would write) as an idea dawns upon him: "EUREKA! If I write it as a trilogy, I can write ONE ending every THREE books! IT'S BRILLIANT!" Granted, I'm getting a bit glib there. He actually gave a fair resolution to each book and together they are an amazingly complete look at...well...a century or so. I'll be looking forward to anything he puts out.

leading zeroes (0)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288759)

"01999" and "02008"? Methinks someone is taking the cautionary example of Y2K a little too far.

Re:leading zeroes (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288857)

I got two jokes for that one.

By the time you're done reading a book by Neal Stephenson, you're going to need that extra digit.

and

You think that's overkill, you should see how many IP Addresses are in IPV6.

Re:leading zeroes (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288947)

Well, from the link about Longnow from TFA [longnow.org],

* The Long Now Foundation uses five digit dates, the extra zero is to solve the deca-millennium bug which will come into effect in about 8,000 years.

So yes, it's looking forward to avoid problems based upon our experiences with Y2K. What I want to know is: What about the centamilleniall approximately 98,000 years from now? Should be 001999 and 002008. Talk about short-sighted...

Won't somebody think of the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-[...]-great-grandchildren?

Re:leading zeroes (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289593)

Of course, some systems consider the leading 0 to be a notation that the number's in base 8, so both of those would be invalid dates. 02007 is actually 1031 CE ... and then it jumps to 02010 for 1031 CE.

2008 CE would then be 03730, and 1999 CE would be 03717.

Re:leading zeroes (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290153)

here I just assumed that there was a typo and the x was missing, as in 0x2008, or, the year 8200 in decimal, fits with the typical sci-fi future thing.

Urgh... (5, Insightful)

TechnoBunny (991156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288763)

"a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle." Sounds horrific.

Re:Urgh... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24288805)

You don't like Snow Crash? Get the fuck out of here. Your Slashdot license has been revoked.

Re:Urgh... (2)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288929)

Looks like you missed the few dozen words preceding Snow Crash. I agree, that description makes it sound horrible, but I know it will be at the very least halfway decent. Got my pre-order in.

Re:Urgh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289303)

"a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle."

Sounds horrific.

I threw up in my mouth

I have nothing useful to contribute, other than... (0)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288765)

Other than to say that I am probably unhealthily excited about this. The Baroque Cycle proved ( to me at least ) that Stephenson's a great writer. His earlier books had great ideas and great characters but didn't stitch together well at the end. A little too much of the old deaus-ex-machina. But the Baroque Cycle was nearly flawless.

So, he has my money. I'm buying it the day I can get my dirty mitts on it.

Re:I have nothing useful to contribute, other than (2, Insightful)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288975)

But the Baroque Cycle was nearly flawless.

Having enjoyed Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, I really wanted to like the Baroque Cycle. After trudging through the first 200 pages that practically dared the reader to continue, I gave up on it. Where was the hook that made Snow Crash and Crypto such page turners?

(and don't say page 201)

Re:I have nothing useful to contribute, other than (1)

Fractal Law (122229) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289171)

Sadly, there wasn't one.
 
The books really did come together as a positive literary experience in System of the World but more in the sense that the many threads come together and tie in with Cryptonomicon rather than being an actual page turner.

Waiting for a review of the ending (5, Interesting)

tb()ne (625102) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288771)

I read Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash and thought both were great, except for the endings. I thought the endings were rushed, as if he spent a years carefully writing each novel until his publisher suddenly showed up at his door and said "Dude, you've got 24 hours to finish this novel." I'm waiting for a specific review of the ending of this one before I decide whether to buy.

Re:Waiting for a review of the ending (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288809)

Just pencil in "and they all lived happily ever after". Problem solved.

Re:Waiting for a review of the ending (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289021)

I've not read everything that Stephenson's written so far, but as I understand it, Cryptonomicon had the most ending-like ending.

Great endings, bad endings, no endings -- regardless, the ride with Stephenson is fun so I'm definitely going to be picking up Anathem.

Neal Stephenson doesn't DO endings. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289701)

The Diamond Age had the same problem.

Reading a Neal Stephenson novel is like strapping yourself into the back seat of a converted jet trainer to tour the Grand Canyon. For a lot of people, by the time they've gotten used to dodging pillars of rock at half the speed of sound and they're really enjoying the view the pilot flips over the rim and... that's all, tour's over.

I get used to the view pretty quick, and I've come to accept the endings, so I'll be picking up ANATHEM anyway.

Re:Neal Stephenson doesn't DO endings. (1)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290049)

No, reading the Baroque cycle is like strapping yourself to a tree and hoping that at some point a caveman will come along and invent the wheel so that you might get moving. I like SC and Cryptonomicon a lot. Quicksilver disappeared so far up its historical fiction behind you couldn't see the story any more (I gave up on them after that admittedly, maybe the other two improved.)

Re:Neal Stephenson doesn't DO endings. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290207)

No, reading the Baroque cycle is like strapping yourself to a tree [...]

I didn't strap myself to that tree (or at least I cut myself loose before the end of the first volume). I'm talking about his science fiction, not his Swiss Family Robinson version of the 17th century.

GAH (4, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288787)

Read Rose's complete posting for more information about the release of the book, which he describes as set "in a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle."

My god, I've gone cross-eyed.

Re:GAH (3, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289013)

Sounds like steampunk Star Wars except that Han blasts Pennywise and Sex Pistols in the cockpit and occasionally makes out with Chewbacca. Not for the kiddies.

Re:GAH (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289139)

And when I first heard about this book a month or two ago, I somehow thought it'd be similar in setting to A Canticle For Leibowitz. I was intending to read Canticle before Anathem for purposes of comparison, but based on Anathem's discription, I'm guessing now that's no longer necessary. Still interested in reading Canticle eventually, though.

Hmmm.... (-1, Redundant)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288813)

...a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle

Hopefully that means "just like Snow Crash, except with an ending". A blend of the best of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon would be jaw-dropping on the order of Connie Willis' best books, though.

Misread Genre as Gender (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288841)

The thought of transvestites in spaceships singing some kind of opera put me off a little bit. I blinked and read it again. Oh, thank god!

0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (1, Funny)

wardk (3037) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288869)

prefixing a zero onto the date is GENIUS!

and so very very cool.

when will mySQL start storing dates in MMDDYYYYY format?

or is it more properly 0MMDDYYYY?

I want my iPhone to display years this way, because it's sooooooo cool

Re:0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288923)

Do you really think your IPhone will last long enough to need this leading zero? Except for the *coolness*, it will be *useless*...

Re:0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (2, Funny)

Mountaineer1024 (1024367) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288949)

I'd be happy if the damn thing displayed dates as YYYYMMDD, because then I don't have to bother trying to figure out if it's in US (MMDD) or the rest of the world (DDMM) style.

You guys keep going with your inches, pounds and gallons bit though, I get a laugh whenever an expensive toy smashes into another planet.

Re:0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289049)

You guys keep going with your inches, pounds and gallons bit though, I get a laugh whenever an expensive toy smashes into another planet.

Haha! I love it. If I ever logged into /. I'd mod you up.

Re:0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289091)

You guys keep going with your inches, pounds and gallons bit though, I get a laugh whenever an expensive toy smashes into another planet.

A native got a video of the explosion on his cell phone. You can watch it at www.youtube.mars [youtube.mars]

Search "Dumb Earthlings". It's the third entry down.

Re:0what 0is 0with 0the 0zeroes 0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289123)

what a hateful post. i'm sorry that you can't be a bigger man and let things go.

I'll say sorry in advance (-1, Flamebait)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24288985)

I know this guy is probably a cherished author (I've never read any of his books - sorry) and while I'm sure he's a Genius on many, many levels, even if he was God Almighty himself, I'd still want to punch him for using an extra 0.

Geez (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289035)

in a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle."

Wow. I'm already bored.

why not (0)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289105)

why not use letters instead of digits as a prefix? that should push the Y100K problem back a few years.

would it be so hard to write A2008.....B2008...etc?

Jesus fuck... (2, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289155)

Will all the leading-zero whiners please take 0.5 fucking seconds to think about what a "millennium clock" might be?

Seriously, get your act together, people. This is supposed to be news for nerds, here.

Some other reviews of the book (2, Informative)

raydulany (892228) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289353)

People in LibraryThing [librarything.com]'s Early Reviewers [librarything.com] program were able to get advance copies a few months ago in return for posting reviews [librarything.com]. The length of the reviews runs from really short to fairly long.

Alas, I didn't win one.

While you're there, sign up for a lifetime membership, or, if you're cheap or broke, a free membership. It's only fair, since my posting this might cause all their bandwidth to be eaten up.

Ask Slashdot: buying First Editions (1)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289617)

Stephenson! Big fan :)
I usually get his books in hardback, but do publishers still release first editions, or limited runs of books with special bindings. If so, how do you get hold of these?


PS That US cover is awful (again). UK one is slightly better [amazon.co.uk]

a blend??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289651)

a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle.

That's like a blend of the best of Tiramisu and Beef Jerky... The only thing that those stories had in common was the author. Vastly different styles, they weren't even in the same genera, as far as I'm concerned. Snow Crash was a fun romp with intelligent, thought-provoking sidelines; The Baroque Cycle lost me [to boredom] 1/2 way into the first book.

in other words (1)

celle (906675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289719)

"in a genre bending alt-future-retro world where mechani-punk technology meets space opera in a blend of the best of Snow Crash and the Baroque Cycle."

Geek crap.

I read it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289785)

it is awesome: I just finished it. I found the first 500 pages to be incredible- Stephenson puts you right into this utterly familiar and also completely alien world- the scenes within the monastery are completely compelling.

No decimal point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24289899)

A '0' prefix is superfluous unless it's found AFTER a decimal point.

Hey, I read his last one... (3, Funny)

Illbay (700081) | more than 5 years ago | (#24289985)

..."ATALAS SHRUGGED." It was very good, but not quite on par with his first novel, "THE FOUNTAINAHEAD."

less is more (4, Interesting)

Von Rex (114907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290047)

I found out all I wanted to know from Amazon -- the book is 960 pages long. The guy still doesn't have an editor with the balls to say no. Until he finds one, I can't get too excited about a new Neal Stephenson novel.

Snow Crash was great. Cryptonomicon would have been great if he'd cut at least 300 pages of fluff. I didn't even bother with the Baroque books.

He's very self-indulgent as a writer.

Re:less is more (4, Interesting)

InfoHighwayRoadkill (454730) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290199)

Amen to that brother.

Though Stephenson is not as bad a Douglas Coupland putting about 10 pages of digits of pi in Jpod.

It seems a lot of modern writers do this sort of thing. IMHO it doesn't move the story along its literally filler. Ask them to write a tight, fast paced short story or novella and their minds would explode.

I think I might sponsor a new literary competition....

The Long Now (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 5 years ago | (#24290085)

Long term planning is nothing new. The Antikythera Mechanism, for one, was designed long before computers and had the task of calculating(very accurately in fact) the exact paths and positions of the local celestial bodies. However, while the mechanism itself withstood enough chronological decay to allow current epoch researchers to piece it back together, it's unlikely that it was constructed with forethought, and no documentation or preparation seemed evident in its discovery. As Hillis mentions in his essay:

"I think of the oak beams in the ceiling of College Hall at New College, Oxford. Last century, when the beams needed replacing, carpenters used oak trees that had been planted in 1386 when the dining hall was first built. The 14th-century builder had planted the trees in anticipation of the time, hundreds of years in the future, when the beams would need replacing. Did the carpenters plant new trees to replace the beams again a few hundred years from now?

I wonder if other current builders use this practice, or if our "Now Now Now" attitude precludes it's usefulness?

Fiction explores this concept often. The Kwisatz Haderach in Frank Herbert's Dune is a great example. The Babylon 5 series and it's undercurrents of recursive history is another. Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. The Lexx series - the original movies, not their child series that has been recently run.

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