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Old 07-05-2010, 12:48 PM   #1
poohbear_nc
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Books Like The Diamond Age

I'm just finishing a re-read of Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" - it is one of those books I enjoy more with every re-read -- it is so densely textured and layered, that I discover/realize something new with every read. Kind of like what Nell does with the primer.

I'm also a fan of Stephenson's Cryptonomicon - for similar reasons.

I've tried starting his "Baroque Cycle" but unsuccessfully so far. Anyone get through them yet - and if so - your opinion?

So ... I'm looking for other reads as challenging & rewarding as "The Diamond Age" -- and am contemplating "His Dark Materials" trilogy or even Narnia -- any suggestions/options?
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:26 PM   #2
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Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" comes to mind.

You may also like Peter Watt's "Blindsight" and his "Rifters" series.
Peter Watt's backlist is available at http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:20 PM   #3
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You might look into the free Ware books from Rudy Rucker. It really depends on what you like about his work.

Like the Cyberpunk side? Like the cross between Steam and Cyberpunk?
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:00 PM   #4
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Not quite at Stephenson's level, but I liked Boneshaker
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:09 PM   #5
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Are we taking William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' as read?

I really enjoyed 'Slant' by Greg Bear
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:55 PM   #6
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Have you tried Anathem?

As for the Baroque Cycle, I managed to finish the first book by a force of sheer will and determination, but I despised it.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:58 PM   #7
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I've read Peter Watts, Stepehenson, Gibson, most of Greg Bear (not Slant - thanks Sparrow), some of Rucker (just grabbed his freebie tetralogy). I've tried to read Boneshaker - didn't grab me but will try again. Love cyberpunk and steampunk.

What really intrigues me about The Diamond Age is the almost limitless depths to the writing - almost like "Godel, Escher, and Bach" - where the reader follows a similar educative process as Nell reading the Primer, where the allusions/parodies of computer science permeate the text (Castle of Duke Turing, etc.), the inclusion of different cultures (geographical, economic, and educational), where every single word means something and belongs in the text. And everything interweaves into a coherent whole you can't ever quite grasp.
That's what I mean! That intellectual "wow" factor.

Where the construction of the text seamlessly mirrors & supports the plot.

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Old 07-05-2010, 08:05 PM   #8
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I would also recommend "Snow Crash" if you have not read it. I was really fascinated by the concept of memes as cultural viruses, and the possibility of inoculating a culture against them.


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Old 07-05-2010, 08:11 PM   #9
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Loved Zodiac, Snow Crash, Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon (and his pseudonym books The Cobweb and Interface)

Could not, can not, get thru The Baroque Cycle...I just don't get it. I love his writing style, there are historical characters, Enoch Root from Cryptonomicon, etc... Just can't even get thru the first book.

I have Anathem, but haven't been motivated to get into it either.

And Snow Crash is more cyber than steam, but is still a great read if you liked Diamond Age.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:36 PM   #10
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I actually really enjoyed The Baroque Cycle. I had read Cryptonomicon more than once, though, so I was prepared to work for it a little! This was back before I was reading e-books, so I have all of those books together in a bag. I've tried to get various family members to read them but I haven't found anybody yet with that level of commitment. I haven't even gotten anybody to read Cryptonomicon yet, for that matter. :-)

Have you read PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon? It's one of those deeply detailed books (although nonfiction) that grabs you and won't let go. I don't think it's available as an e-book yet, though.

Betty
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjones6416 View Post
I actually really enjoyed The Baroque Cycle. I had read Cryptonomicon more than once, though, so I was prepared to work for it a little! This was back before I was reading e-books, so I have all of those books together in a bag. I've tried to get various family members to read them but I haven't found anybody yet with that level of commitment. I haven't even gotten anybody to read Cryptonomicon yet, for that matter. :-)

Have you read PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon? It's one of those deeply detailed books (although nonfiction) that grabs you and won't let go. I don't think it's available as an e-book yet, though.

Betty
I too have read Cryptonomicon multiple times - and enjoyed it! Will give the Baroque Cycle another chance - I now have them as ebooks.

PrairyErth looks marvelous! Thank you!
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:23 PM   #12
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I will add another vote for Snow Crash. Yes, it's more *Cyber* than *Steampunk*, but it's a good read.
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Old 07-07-2010, 07:01 PM   #13
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Opinions vary. I put off reading the Baroque Cycle for years. I didn't like his ancestral-character chain idea in Cryptonomicon (otherwise a great book). However, I was completely sucked in by the Baroque Cycle. The adventures of half-cocked Jack are my favorite whimsical sub-stories and I can still vividly recall all of them, like the run-in with the Hexen leading to rising out of the phosphorescent pool. Still makes me chuckle.

But The Diamond Age is indeed densely layered. I'm thinking I got the same vibe from some of William Gibson's work like Pattern Recognition.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:52 PM   #14
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I loved the Baroque Cycle, although it takes a bit of patience to get into it. Anathem is also wonderful and equally challenging.

If you want stuff as layered as Stephenson, my suggestions are:

Gene Wolfe's series "The Urth of the New Sun"
Umberto Eco "The Name of the Rose"
Charles Palliser's "Quincunx" -- absolutely stunning, this one. Highly, highly rewarding.
Paul Park's "Soldiers of Paradise" -- available in all formats from fictionwise, though long out of print otherwise.
Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union"
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:36 PM   #15
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Have you ever read Hal Duncan's Book of All Hours: Vellum. It has more of a mix of mythology and science, but it is very densely layered in a similar concept to Stephenson although the effect is somewhat different. Early on in the book, it reminded me slightly of Snow Crash, but that impression fades fast. Note that there's a second volume to it called Ink, and the first book ends a bit abruptly for some people's taste (though I didn't see it being an issue, myself).

I finished the first volume of the Baroque Cycle (it was the first book I bought for my Kindle!) and enjoyed it a lot, but it took me a long time to read, longer than his other works.

I personally do not recommend His Dark Materials; my wife didn't like it at all, and I found it a bit shallow for my taste. It's not terrible, but if you're not someone looking to poke a stick in the eye of religion (& in a wider sense, authority figures of every kind) with a serious mad-on about the matter, I don't think you'll find it worth the time.
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