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Encyclopedia > Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson

Stephenson at a book signing
Pseudonym(s): Stephen Bury
Born: October 31, 1959
Fort Meade, Maryland
Occupation(s): novelist, short story writer, essayist
Nationality: American
Genre(s): Science fiction, essays
Literary movement: Cyberpunk
Website: nealstephenson.com

Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer, known primarily for his science fiction works in the postcyberpunk genre with a penchant for explorations of society, mathematics, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and works part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system. [1] Image File history File links Neal-stephenson. ... Book signing is the affixing of a signature to the title page or flyleaf of a book by its author. ... A pseudonym (Greek: false name) is a fictitious name used by an individual as an alternative to his or her legal name. ... October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 61 days remaining. ... 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Fort George G. Meade, 5 miles (8 km) northeast of the town of Laurel, Maryland, is a semi-active US Army installation. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... A literary genre is one of the divisions of literature into genres according to particular criteria such as literary technique, tone, or subject matter (content). ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Essay, a short work that treats of a topic from an authors personal point of view, often taking into account subjective experiences and personal reflections upon them. ... ... Berlins Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz reflects the global reach of a Japanese corporation. ... October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 61 days remaining. ... 1959 (MCMLIX) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, known today as the father of geometry; shown here in a detail of The School of Athens by Raphael. ... The history of science investigates the historical record of human events that are pertinent to the cultural context and the secular development of what is currently called science, namely, a body of empirical and theoretical knowledge, produced by a global community of researchers, making use of specific techniques for the... Wired is a full-color monthly magazine and on-line periodical published in San Francisco, California since March 1993. ... Blue Origin is a privately-funded aerospace company initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight. ... Jeff Bezos on the cover of TIME as Person of the Year 1999 Jeffrey Preston Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is the founder, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Amazon. ...

Contents

Background

Born in Fort Meade, Maryland — home of the National Security Agency — Stephenson came from a family composed of engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography with a minor in Physics. His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984. The Big U was never popular, and for a while, was out of print. It has only recently been republished. Since 1984 he has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family. NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland Fort George G. Meade, 5 miles (8 km) northeast of the town of Laurel, Maryland, is an active US Army installation. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) is believed to be the largest United States government intelligence gathering agency. ... Hard science is a term which often is used to describe certain fields of the natural sciences, usually physics, chemistry, and many fields of biology. ... Electrical Engineers design power systems… … and complex electronic circuits. ... Physics (from the Greek, (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the fundamental laws which govern matter, energy, space and time. ... Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes and transformations in living organisms. ... The Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area, also known as Chambana, is a region in east central Illinois. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... Bales of hay on a farm near Ames, Iowa. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Painting of the newly expanded Ames High School, seen from the north. ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... For the unrelated Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, see Boston College. ... 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A Bachelor of Arts (B.A. or A.B., from the Latin Artium Baccalaureus) is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course or program in the arts and/or sciences. ... The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephensons first published novel, a satire of campus life. ... See also: 1983 in literature, other events of 1984, 1985 in literature, list of years in literature. ... City nickname Emerald City City bird Great Blue Heron City flower Dahlia City mottos The City of Flowers The City of Goodwill City song Seattle, the Peerless City Mayor Greg Nickels County King County Area   - Total   - Land   - Water   - % water 369. ...


Literary works

After The Big U, Stephenson published the eco-thriller Zodiac before rising to prominence in the early 1990s with the novel Snow Crash (1992), which fuses memetics, computer viruses, and other high-tech themes with Sumerian mythology, along with an analysis of the differences between ideologies such as libertarianism, laissez-faire capitalism, and communism. Averaging one novel every four years, he has written several subsequent novels: The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephensons first published novel, a satire of campus life. ... The thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and television that includes numerous, often-overlapping sub-genres. ... Zodiac (1988) is Neal Stephensons second novel, which tells the story of an environmentalist, Sangamon Taylor, uncovering a conspiracy involving industrialist pollutors and bicameral minded Satanists in the Boston Harbor. ... See also 1990s, the band Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall in late 1989, the symbol of the cold war divide falls down as the world unites in the 1990s. ... Snow Crash, U.S. version cover shot, illustrated by Bruce Jensen. ... See also: 1991 in literature, other events of 1992, 1993 in literature, list of years in literature. ... Memetics is an approach to evolutionary models of information transfer based on the concept of the meme. ... A computer virus is a self-replicating computer program written to alter the way a computer operates, without the permission or knowledge of the user. ... Chaldean mythology is the collective name given to Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian mythologies, although Chaldea did not comprehend the whole territory inhabited by those peoples. ... Libertarianism is a political philosophy advocating that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish with their person or property, as long as they do not infringe on the same liberty of others. ... Laissez-faire capitalism is, roughly stated, the doctrine that the free market functions to the greatest good when left unfettered and unregulated by government. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Though it can be argued that neither Cryptonomicon nor The Baroque Cycle constitute works of science fiction, Stephenson himself insists on describing these books as SF and booksellers have tended to classify them as such. The Diamond Age or, A Young Ladys Illustrated Primer is postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. ... See also: 1994 in literature, other events of 1995, 1996 in literature, list of years in literature. ... Molecular gears from a NASA computer simulation. ... Dynabook prototype The Dynabook was a conceptual system proposed by Xerox PARC in the late-1960s and early-1970s. ... Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by Neal Stephenson that concurrently follows the exploits of World War II-era cryptographers affiliated with Bletchley Park in their attempts to crack Axis codes and fight the Nazi submarine fleet, alongside the story of their descendants, who are attempting to use modern cryptography to... See also: 1998 in literature, other events of 1999, 2000 in literature, list of years in literature. ... Alan Turing is often considered the father of modern computer science. ... Cryptanalysis (from the Greek kryptós, hidden, and analýein, to loosen or to untie) is the study of methods for obtaining the meaning of encrypted information without access to the secret information which is normally required to do so. ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... During World War II, codebreakers at Bletchley Park solved messages from a large number of Axis code and cipher systems, including the German Enigma machine. ... A Data Haven is a place where data is supposed to be secure at all times. ... The Baroque Cycle is a series of books written by Neal Stephenson and published in 2003 and 2004. ... A historical novel is a novel in which the story is set among historical events, or more generally, where the time the action takes place in predates the time of the first publication -- distinguish and contrast the genre of alternate history. ... Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is one of the best-known prequels. ... The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien. ... Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is the first volume of his series The Baroque Cycle. ... See also: 2002 in literature, other events of 2003, 2004 in literature, list of years in literature. ... The Confusion is a novel by Neal Stephenson. ... See also: 2003 in literature, other events of 2004, 2005 in literature, list of years in literature. ... The System of the World, a novel by Neal Stephenson, forms the third volume in The Baroque Cycle. ... Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by Neal Stephenson that concurrently follows the exploits of World War II-era cryptographers affiliated with Bletchley Park in their attempts to crack Axis codes and fight the Nazi submarine fleet, alongside the story of their descendants, who are attempting to use modern cryptography to... The Baroque Cycle, a series of books written by Neal Stephenson, appeared in print in 2003 and 2004. ...


With the 2003 publication of Quicksilver, Stephenson debuted The Metaweb, a wiki (using the same software as Wikipedia) annotating the ideas and historical period explored in the novel. A wiki (IPA: <WICK-ee> or <WEE-kee>[1]) is a type of website that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove and otherwise edit and change some available content, sometimes without the need for registration. ... Wikipedia is a multi-lingual, Web-based free content encyclopedia project. ...


Style

Stephenson, at least in his earlier novels, deals heavily in pop culture-laden metaphors and imagery, and in quick, hip dialogue, as well as in extended narrative monologues. The tone of his books generally is more irreverent and less self-serious than in previous cyberpunk novels, notably those of William Gibson. Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in a modern society. ... Berlins Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz reflects the global reach of a Japanese corporation. ... William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948, Conway, South Carolina) is an American-born science fiction author resident in Canada since 1968. ...


Stephenson's books tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time. This distinguishes him from other mainstream science fiction authors who tend to focus on a few technological or social changes in isolation from others. This penchant for complexity and detail suggests a baroque writer. His book The Diamond Age features "neo-Victorian" characters and employs Victorian-era literary conceits, and perhaps could be considered as falling into the steampunk genre. In keeping with the baroque style, Stephenson's books have become longer as he has gained recognition. (At least one printing of Cryptonomicon is well over one thousand pages long and contains various digressions, including a lengthy erotic story about antique furniture and stockings.) Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Adoration, by Peter Paul Rubens. ... The Diamond Age or, A Young Ladys Illustrated Primer is postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. ... Neo-Victorian is an aesthetic movement which amalgamates Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic sensibilities with modern principles and technologies. ... In literary terms, a conceit is an extended metaphor with a complex logic that governs an entire poem or poetic passage. ... A rocket lands on the moon in Le Voyage dans la Lune, the film adaptation of Jules Vernes From the Earth to the Moon. ... Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by Neal Stephenson that concurrently follows the exploits of World War II-era cryptographers affiliated with Bletchley Park in their attempts to crack Axis codes and fight the Nazi submarine fleet, alongside the story of their descendants, who are attempting to use modern cryptography to... Very early humans were nomads, moving from location to location, and survived from only what nature provided. ... A stocking is a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg, but usually not intended to conceal the leg. ...


Characteristic aspects of his books include the "breakdown in events", an acceleration in plot development, typically about three quarters into the novel, accompanied by a marked increase in violence and general confusion among the characters (and often readers); and abrupt endings without strong conclusions or denouement, which sometimes leave the reader hanging. While many readers consider this an annoyance, there is a contingent that admires the author's ability to tie up loose ends and transact a great deal of novelistic business within the space of 20 or 30 pages. This pattern holds for all of the Stephenson-penned books, including (when taken as a whole) The Baroque Cycle. Denouement, in literature, is the end part of a story after the climax. ...


Quote

"The science fiction approach doesn't mean it's always about the future; it's an awareness that this is different". - Neal Stephenson


Bibliography

The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephensons first published novel, a satire of campus life. ... 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Zodiac (1988) is Neal Stephensons second novel, which tells the story of an environmentalist, Sangamon Taylor, uncovering a conspiracy involving industrialist pollutors and bicameral minded Satanists in the Boston Harbor. ... 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Snow Crash, U.S. version cover shot, illustrated by Bruce Jensen. ... 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday. ... Interface is a 1994 novel by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... Steven Bury is a pseudonymous author representing the team of Neal Stephenson and his uncle, J. Frederick George. ... George Jewsbury is an academic who has collaborated on several textbooks in the Civilization: Past & Present series. ... Hackers (ISBN 0441003753) is a collection of short stories edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... The Great Simoleon Caper is a short story by Neal Stephenson that appeared in TIME Domestic SPECIAL ISSUE, Spring 1995 Volume 145, No. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Diamond Age or, A Young Ladys Illustrated Primer is postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Cobweb is Stephen Burys second novel. ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... Jipi and the Paranoid Chip is a science fiction short story by Neal Stephenson that appeared in Forbes Magazines July 7, 1997 issue. ... 1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by Neal Stephenson that concurrently follows the exploits of World War II-era cryptographers affiliated with Bletchley Park in their attempts to crack Axis codes and fight the Nazi submarine fleet, alongside the story of their descendants, who are attempting to use modern cryptography to... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Old Farts by the Sometimes-United Nations. ... Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is the first volume of his series The Baroque Cycle. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Baroque Cycle is a series of books written by Neal Stephenson and published in 2003 and 2004. ... The Confusion is a novel by Neal Stephenson. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The System of the World, a novel by Neal Stephenson, forms the third volume in The Baroque Cycle. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Prometheus Award is an award for libertarian science fiction novels given out annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society (which also publishes a quarterly journal, Prometheus). ... Smileys People is a spy novel by John le Carré, published in 1979, by Random House (ISBN 0394508432). ... In the Kingdom of Mao Bell is an article by Neal Stephenson that appeared in Wired Magazine Issue 2. ... Mother Earth Mother Board is an article published in Wired 4. ... Global Neighborhood Watch[1] is an article by Neal Stephenson that appeared in Wired Magazine in 1998. ... In the Beginning. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Neal Stephenson

  Results from FactBites:
 
Neal Stephenson Biography | Authors and Artist for Young Adults (1611 words)
Though Neal Stephenson has authored just a handful of books, his science-fiction thrillers that blend high-tech intrigue with sly humor have made him one of the most successful new authors in the genre.
Stephenson began writing in college and moved to the Pacific Northwest area in 1984, the same year his first novel was published.
Stephenson is working on the successor to Cryptonomicon from his home in Seattle, where he lives with his physician wife and their two children.
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson (1284 words)
Stephenson's literary ambitions (or abilities) are not exactly overwhelming, but there is a considerable amount of attention to literary craft.
Stephenson actually names one of them Hiro Protagonist -- even acknowledging it is a name assumed by the character himself, not his real one, it is still a daring (and initially certainly pretty off-putting) step in a work of fiction.
Stephenson's explanation for the virus -- what it is, how it came about, what danger it poses -- is ingenious, and one admires his attempt at something serious.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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