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Encyclopedia > The Big U
The Big U
Reprint Cover
Author Neal Stephenson
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) University Life, Satire
Genre(s) Fiction/Science Fiction
Publisher Harper Perennial
Released Original: 1984, Reprint: February 5, 2001
Pages 320
ISBN ISBN 0-380-81603-2

The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephenson's first published novel, a satire of campus life. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (600x928, 470 KB) Cover of The Big U by Neal Stephenson. ... 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. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For a list of universities around the world, see Lists of colleges and universities Representation of a university class, 1350s. ... 1867 edition of the satirical magazine Punch, a British satirical magazine, ground-breaking on popular literature satire. ... Fiction (from the Latin fingere, to form, create) is storytelling of imagined events and stands in contrast to non-fiction, which makes factual claims about reality. ... 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. ... See also: 1983 in literature, other events of 1984, 1985 in literature, list of years in literature. ... 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. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... 1867 edition of the satirical magazine Punch, a British satirical magazine, ground-breaking on popular literature satire. ...

Contents

Plot summary

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The story follows the misadventures of a socially inept physics student, a pair of gun-wielding lesbians, a hardcore LARP/war gaming club, and other misfits through a series of escalating events that culminates with a full scale civil war raging on the campus of American Megaversity. A live action role-playing game, or LARP as it is commonly known, is a form of role-playing game where the participants perform some or all of the physical actions of the characters they play the role of. ...


Told in first person from the perspective of Bud, a lecturer in Remote Sensing new to the university, the book attacks and makes fun of just about every conceivable group at university, though its portraits of the nerds/computer scientists/role players tend to be more detailed than those of factions probably further removed from the author's experience.


The events take place at a fictitious big university consisting of a single building (a central complex with eight towers containing student housing), making the university an enclosed universe of its own. Stephenson uses this fact to take what starts as a mostly realistic satire and move it further and further into the realms of fantasy, including near-intelligent rats and alternate realities merging with ours.

Spoilers end here.

Main Characters

  • Bert Nix
  • Bud Redfield
  • Casimir Radon
  • Dex Fresser
  • Ephraim Klein
  • Fred Fine (Chris the Systems Analyst)
  • Giant Sewer Rats
  • Hyacinth
  • Sarah Jane Johnson
  • Septimius Severus Krupp
  • Virgil Gabrielson (White Priest)
  • The Worm
  • Yllas Freedperson

Groups and Organizations at American Megaversity

  • The Airheads
  • Computing Club
  • The Crotobaltslavonians
  • The Faculty Union
  • Megaversity Association for Reenactments and Simulations (M.A.R.S.)
  • Stalinist Underground Battalion (S.U.B.)
  • Physics Club
  • The Terrorists
  • Big Wheel Men
  • Cowboys
  • Droogs
  • Ninjas
  • Provisional Wing of the Irish Republican Army (Unofficial)
  • Roy G Bivs
  • Wild and Crazy Guys
  • Temple of the Unlimited Godhead (T.U.G.)

Literary significance & criticism

Stephenson has said he is not proud of this book. By the time Snow Crash was published, The Big U was out of print, and Stephenson was content to leave it that way. However, when original editions began selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars, he relented and allowed it to be republished, saying that the only thing worse than people reading the book was paying that much to read it. Snow Crash is a science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson and published in 1992. ... eBay headquarters in San Jose eBay North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPal) eBay Inc. ...


The book was written while Stephenson was at Boston University. The fictional campus' design is based on a BU dormitory, Warren Towers. Located at 700 Commonwealth Ave in Boston, Massachusetts, it is one of the largest dorms in the US. The character of President Septimius Severus Krupp shares a number of similarities with then BU President John Silber. The neon Big Wheel sign plays the part of the Citgo sign just East of the BU campus in Kenmore Square. The Big U's financial crisis and the lost library catalog are based on actual events. For the unrelated Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, see Boston College. ... Warren Towers is one of the three Boston University dormitories traditionally intended for freshmen and sophomores, the others being The Towers and West Campus. ... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, Americas Walking City Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County Mayor Thomas M. Menino(D) Area    - City 232. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... John Robert Silber (born August 15, 1926 in San Antonio, Texas) is a controversial former president of Boston University. ... Citgo Petroleum Corporation or Citgo, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company, is a United States-incorporated firm refiner and marketer of gasoline, lubricants, petrochemicals and other petroleum products. ... View of the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square Kenmore Square is a square in Boston, Massachusetts near Fenway Park, consisting of the intersection of several main avenues, (including Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue) as well as several other cross streets, and Kenmore Station, a T stop. ...


Reviews

  • Cheuse, Alan. "MURDEROUS PRANKS", The New York Times, 1984-09-30. Retrieved on 2007-01-09.


1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... January 9 is the 9th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Works by Neal Stephenson
Full-Length Novels The Big U (1984) | Zodiac (1988) | Snow Crash (1992) | Interface (1994) | The Diamond Age (1995) | The Cobweb (1996) | Cryptonomicon (1999) | The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver (2003), The Confusion (2004), and The System of the World (2004)
Short Stories "Spew" (1994) | "The Great Simoleon Caper" (1995) | "Jipi and the paranoid chip" (1997)
Non-Fiction Smiley's people (1993) | In the Kingdom of Mao Bell (1994) | Mother Earth Mother Board (1996) | Global Neighborhood Watch (1998) | In the Beginning...was the Command Line (1999)

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Big U - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (346 words)
The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephenson's first published novel, a satire of campus life.
By the time Snow Crash was published, The Big U was out of print, and Stephenson was content to leave it that way.
The Big U's financial crisis and the lost library catalog are based on actual events.
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (367 words)
BIG is an efficient and effective solution to poverty that preserves individual autonomy and work incentives while simplifying government social policy.
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (The USBIG Network) is an informal group promoting the discussion of the basic income guarantee in the United States.
USBIG was founded in December 1999 by Fred Block of University of California-Davis, Charles M. Clark of St. John's University, Pamela Donovan of the City University of New York, Michael Lewis of the State University of New York-Stony Brook, and Karl Widerquist then of the Levy Economics Institute.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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