September 22, 2011
[books] Has Neal Stephenson Become Too Accessible?‘Putting aside the daunting question of how even a writer of Stephenson’s talents could continue to keep topping himself every time out, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t head in a different direction every now and then. What’s more — I thoroughly enjoyed “Reamde.” I couldn’t put it down — which, for a thriller, has got to be the highest praise. Despite its 1,000-plus pages, “Reamde” moves right along.’
February 16, 2011
[space] Space Stasis … Neal Stephenson takes a fascinating look at path dependence and lock-in within the business, idea and design of rockets… ‘To employ a commonly used metaphor, our current proficiency in rocket-building is the result of a hill-climbing approach; we started at one place on the technological landscape – which must be considered a random pick, given that it was chosen for dubious reasons by a maniac – and climbed the hill from there, looking for small steps that could be taken to increase the size and efficiency of the device. Sixty years and a couple of trillion dollars later, we have reached a place that is infinitesimally close to the top of that hill. Rockets are as close to perfect as they’re ever going to get. For a few more billion dollars we might be able to achieve a microscopic improvement in efficiency or reliability, but to make any game-changing improvements is not merely expensive; it’s a physical impossibility.’
August 21, 2008
[books] Novelist Neal Stephenson Once Again Proves He’s the King of the Worlds … update on what Neal Stephenson is up to …‘That’s right—brain surgery is one of the things Stephenson is tinkering with. He and his team are helping refine some mechanical aspects of a new tool, a helical needle for operating on brain tumors. It’s the kind of cool job one of his characters might have.’
April 2, 2008
[books] The Return of Neal Stephenson‘Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, etc., you know who he is, has a new novel out this September. It’s called Anathem…’
November 6, 2004
[books] Another interview with Neal Stephenson‘I do think that those who devote their lives to studying science or to building new technologies learn certain habits of thought. They derive satisfaction from finding new truths, or doing things in a way that is more elegant. Perhaps this could be considered spiritual. It is a way of confirming over and over again that the universe makes sense and follows orderly laws, which a religiously significant assertion.’
October 21, 2004
[books] Neal Stephenson interviewed by Slashdot. On the Singularity: ‘I have a personal mental block as far as the Singularity prediction is concerned. My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware’s nothing more than a really complicated space heater.’
April 16, 2004
[books] Clearing Up The Confusion — Neal Stephenson on his new book The Confusion. On Isaac Newton: ‘…the gist of it seems to be that Newton was trying to achieve some specific goals with alchemy. Some of those goals might have been religious, but many were clearly scientific. As a scientist, he knew that he could only explain so much with the tools that he was using, and that to advance beyond that point he was going to need a different toolbox. He recognized that a lot of alchemy was nonsense, but he thought that by going about it in a systematic and rational way he’d be able to solve some scientific problems. He would have rejected the label of magician because it might have had dark connotations to him.’ [via yoz]
October 9, 2003
[books] The Source of the Modern World — Glenn Reynolds interviews Neal Stephenson … ‘I do think that society has a craving, hardwired in somehow, to have a few people, no more than a couple of dozen maybe, who are universally famous, people like J. Lo or Britney Spears. However, once you get beyond that level, I think it is going to be a kind of highly fragmented, focused kind of fame. It makes for interesting situations. I’m sitting in a Marriott outside of Ypsilanti right now, and there’s a dental convention here. I’m totally anonymous. I can get a drink in the bar, go down to the restaurant, whatever and nobody will recognize me. But if I went to a science fiction convention, I’d be famous in those confines and I’d probably be recognized if I went anywhere.’ [via Fimoculous]
September 29, 2003
[books] The World Outside the Web — a review of Quicksilver – Neal Stephenson’s new book … ‘Quicksilver infuses old-school science and engineering with a badly needed dose of swashbuckling adventure, complete with a professor-versus-the-pirates battle at sea. Who knew the Natural Philosophers were so cool?’ [Related: Preview of Quicksilver | Stephenson’s Home Page]
August 26, 2003
[book] Neal Stephenson Rewrites History — brief Wired interview. ‘…for a while, information technology was incredibly important, yet it had been ignored or gotten wrong by science fiction. There was this vast terrain of virgin territory, and there was a land rush. Now the revolutionary nature of that technology has become familiar. To make the obligatory social criticism kind of comment here, the bursting of the Internet bubble has proven that information technology is just another technology’ [Related: Preview of Quicksilver | Stephenson’s Home Page]
May 14, 2003
[books] The Baroque Cycle Is Coming — preview of Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson’s new book … ‘He hadn’t really known what to expect of America. But people here seem to do things — hangings included — with a blunt, blank efficiency that’s admirable and disappointing at the same time. Like jumping fish, they go about difficult matters with bloodless ease. As if they were all born knowing things that other people must absorb, along with faery-tales and superstitions, from their families and villages. Maybe it is because most of them came over on ships.’
April 9, 2002
[books] The full text to Neal Stephenson’s The Big U online — it’s probably illegal so if you feel guilty you can buy yourself a copy here. ‘This is a history, in that it intends to describe what happened and suggest why. It is a work of the imagination in that by writing it I hope to purge the Big U from my system, and with it all my bitterness and contempt. I may have fooled around with a few facts. But I served as witness until as close to the end as anyone could have, and I knew enough of the major actors to learn about what I didn’t witness, and so there is not so much art in this as to make it irrelevant. What you are about to read is not an aberration: it can happen in your local university too. The Big U, simply, was a few years ahead of the rest. ‘ [via Jerry Kindall]
January 31, 2001
[reading] Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon‘Like every other creature on the face of the earth, Godfrey was, by birthright, a stupendous badass, albeit in the somewhat narrow technical sense that he could trace his ancestry back up a long line of slightly less highly evolved stupendous badasses to that first self-replicating gizmo–which, given the number and variety of its descendants, might justifiably be described as the most stupendous badass of all time. Everyone and everything that wasn’t a stupendous badass was dead. As nightmarishly lethal, memetically programmed death-machines went, these were the nicest you could ever hope to meet.’
September 28, 2000
[random link dump] These links have been sitting around waiting for something to tag them to which never came along: Old Salon interview with Jay McInerney, Slashdot review of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Comics worth Reading and finally, Alan Moore — famous vegetarian!