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Encyclopedia > The Diamond Age
The Diamond Age
Author Neal Stephenson
Cover artist Bruce Jensen
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
postcyberpunk
Publisher Spectra (U.S.A.)
Publication date 1995
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback) & Audio Book (Cassette, Audio download. Narrator: Jennifer Wiltsie) & e-book
Pages 455 pp (hardcover), 512 pp (paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-553-09609-5 (hardcover), ISBN 0-553-38096-6 (paperback)
Preceded by Snow Crash

The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is a postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It is a bildungsroman focused on a young girl named Nell, and set in a world in which nanotechnology affects all aspects of life. Some main themes include: education, social class, cultural tribalism, and the nature of artificial intelligence. The Diamond Age was first published in 1995 by Bantam Books, as a Bantam Spectra hardcover edition. In 1996, it won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and was shortlisted for the Nebula and other awards, placing it among the most-honored works of science fiction in recent history.[1] Image File history File links Diamond_age_HC.jpg‎ Cover of the 1995 Bantam Spectra hard cover edition. ... 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. ... Bruce Jensen is an illustrator who has created book covers for the novels of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, Charles Sheffield, Joe Haldeman and Linda Nagata. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Some notable science fiction novels, in alphabetical order by title: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke 334 by Thomas M. Disch An Age by Brian Aldiss The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Year 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Typical 60-minute Compact Cassette. ... A user viewing an electronic page on an eBook reading device An e-book (for electronic book: also eBook, ecoBook) is the digital media equivalent of a conventional printed book. ... ISBN redirects here. ... Snow Crash is Neal Stephensons third science fiction novel, published in 1992. ... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... For other uses, see Novel (disambiguation). ... 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 Bildungsroman (IPA: /, German: novel of self-cultivation) is a novelistic form that concentrates on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the protagonist usually from childhood to maturity. ... Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, generally 100 nanometers or smaller, and the fabrication of devices with critical dimensions that lie within that size range. ... Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. ... This article or section should be merged with ethnic group Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. ... AI redirects here. ... Bantam Books is a major U.S. publishing house owned by Random House and is part of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... The 2005 Hugo Award with base designed by Deb Kosiba. ... The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works. ... The Nebula is an award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the two previous years (see rolling eligibility below). ...


A six-hour miniseries scripted by Stephenson and produced by George Clooney is being developed for the Sci Fi Channel.[2][3] George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter, who gained fame as one of the lead doctors in the long-running television drama, ER (1994–99), as Anthony Edwardss characters best friend and partner... SCI FI (originally The Sci-Fi Channel, sometimes rendered SCI FI Channel) is an American cable television channel, launched in early 1992,[1] that specializes in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. ...

Contents

Plot

The primary protagonist in the story is Nell, a thete (or person without a tribe; equivalent to today's lowest working class) who illicitly receives a copy of an interactive book (with the quaint title Young Lady's Illustrated Primer; a Propaedeutic Enchiridion in which is told the tale of Princess Nell and her various friends, kin, associates, &c.[4]) originally intended for an aristocrat's child in the Neo-Victorian tribe. The story follows Nell (and, to a lesser degree, two other girls named Elizabeth and Fiona, who receive similar books) as she uses the Primer. The Primer is intended to teach Nell how to become a master engineer; it also teaches her to gain confidence in her ability to defend herself from harm and teaches her survival and leadership skills which become essential in Part II. A protagonist is the main figure of a piece of literature or drama and has the main part or role. ... Neo-Victorian is an aesthetic movement which amalgamates Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic sensibilities with modern principles and technologies, many of which originate and are still centered in Japan. ...


The Diamond Age is characterized by two intersecting, almost equally developed story lines: Nell's education through her independent work with the primer, and the social downfall of engineer and designer of the Primer, John Percival Hackworth. The text includes fully narrated educational tales from the primer that map Nell's individual experience (e.g. her four toy friends) onto archetypal folk tales stored in the primer's database. Although The Diamond Age explores the role of technology and personal relationships in child development, its deeper and darker themes also probe the relative values of cultures and shortcomings in communication between them. For other uses, see Archetype (disambiguation). ... Folklore is the ethnographic concept of the tales, legends, or superstitions current among a particular ethnic population, a part of the oral history of a particular culture. ... This article is about computing. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For the Bobby Womack album, see Communication (1972 album). ...


Explanation of the novel's title

"Diamond Age" is an extension of labels for archeological time periods that take central technological materials to define an entire era of human history, such as the Stone Age, the Bronze Age or the Iron Age. Technological visionaries such as Eric Drexler and Ralph Merkle, both of whom receive an honorary mention in The Diamond Age, have argued that if nanotechnology develops the ability to manipulate individual atoms at will, it will become possible to simply assemble diamond structures from carbon atoms.[5] Merkle argues enthusiastically: "In diamond, then, a dense network of strong bonds creates a strong, light, and stiff material. Indeed, just as we named the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Steel Age after the materials that humans could make, we might call the new technological epoch we are entering the Diamond Age".[6] In the novel, a near future vision of our world, nanotechnology has developed precisely to this point, which enables the cheap production of diamond structures. Names for archaeological periods vary enormously from region to region. ... Stone Age fishing hook. ... The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... Iron Age Axe found on Gotland This article is about the archaeological period known as the Iron Age, for the mythological Iron Age see Iron Age (mythology). ... K. Eric Drexler (born April 25, 1955) is best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology. ... Ralph C. Merkle (born 2 February 1952) is a pioneer in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics. ... For other uses, see Atom (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Carbon (disambiguation). ...


The title can also be seen as a reference to the Gilded Age, a time of economic expansion roughly coinciding with the first Victorian era. <math> </math></math> The Breakers, a gilded-age mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. ... The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. ...


Setting

Cover of the 1996 Bantam Spectra paperback edition; cover art by Bruce Jensen.
Cover of the 1996 Bantam Spectra paperback edition; cover art by Bruce Jensen.

Like Greg Bear's Queen of Angels, The Diamond Age depicts a world completely changed by the full development of nanotechnology, much as Eric Drexler envisioned it in Engines of Creation (1986). Nanotechnology is omni-present, generally in the form of Matter Compilers and the products that come out of them. The book explicitly recognizes achievements of several existing nanotechnology researchers: Feynman, Drexler and Merkle are seen among characters of the fresco in Merkle-Hall, where new nanotechnological items are designed and constructed. Image File history File links Diamond_Age_Spectra_mass_market_1996. ... Image File history File links Diamond_Age_Spectra_mass_market_1996. ... Bruce Jensen is an illustrator who has created book covers for the novels of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, Charles Sheffield, Joe Haldeman and Linda Nagata. ... Gregory Dale Bear (born August 20, 1951) is a science fiction author. ... Queen of Angels is a novel written by Greg Bear. ... Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, generally 100 nanometers or smaller, and the fabrication of devices with critical dimensions that lie within that size range. ... K. Eric Drexler (born April 25, 1955) is best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology. ... Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology Engines of Creation (ISBN 0-385-19973-2) is a seminal molecular nanotechnology book written by K. Eric Drexler in 1986. ... A molecular assembler is a molecular machine capable of assembling other molecules given instructions, energy, and a supply of smaller building block molecules to work from. ... Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, generally 100 nanometers or smaller, and the fabrication of devices with critical dimensions that lie within that size range. ... This article is about the physicist. ... K. Eric Drexler in 2001. ... Ralph C. Merkle (born 2 February 1952) is a pioneer in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics. ... Ralph C. Merkle (born 2 February 1952) is a pioneer in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics. ...


Exotic technology such as the chevaline (a mechanical horse that can fold up and is light enough to be carried one-handed) and forecasts of technologies that are in development today, such as smart paper that can show personalized news headlines, are personal-use products, while major cities have immune systems made up of aerostatic defensive micromachines, and public matter compilers provide basic food, blankets, and water for free to anyone who requests them. A prototype electronic paper display. ... Uncrewed aerostats can carry instruments and sensors for long durations that are impractical for humans and other aircraft. ...


Matter compilers receive raw materials from the Feed, a system analogous to the electrical grid of modern society. Rather than just electricity, it also carries streams of basic molecules, and matter compilers assemble those molecules into whatever goods the compiler's user wishes. The Source, where the Feed's stream of matter originates, is controlled by the Victorian phyle, though smaller, independent Feeds are possible. The hierarchic nature of the Feed and an alternative, anarchic developing technology known as the Seed mirror the cultural conflict between East and West that is depicted in the book. This conflict has an economic element as well, with the Feed representing a centrally-controlled distribution mechanism while the Seed represents a more open-ended emergent behavior method of creation and organization. There are things that have the name Phyle: A soliological analog of a biological phyla, mentioned in a novel The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson which includes three great tribes. ... ...


The world is divided into many phyles, also known as tribes. There are three Great Phyles; the Han (consisting of Han Chinese), the Neo-Victorians (consisting largely of Anglo-Saxons, but also accepting Indians, Africans, and others who identify with the culture), and Nippon (consisting of Japanese). The novel deliberately makes it ambiguous whether Hindustan (consisting of Hindu Indians) is a fourth Great Phyle or an association of microphyles. In addition to these larger phyles, there are countless smaller phyles. Membership in some phyles, such as the Han and Nipponese, has an ethnic requirement, but the Neo-Victorian phyle and many lesser phyles accept anyone who aspires to live according to the phyle's mores (for example, one of the Neo-Victorian aristocrats is actually of Korean origin). Language(s) Chinese languages Religion(s) Predominantly Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. ... For other uses, see Anglo-Saxon. ... This article discusses the adherents of Hinduism. ...


Characters

Cover of the 1998 Penguin edition.
Cover of the 1998 Penguin edition.

Nell (Nellodee) - She is the main protagonist, if you read the novel as a coming-of-age story. She is born to Tequila, a lower-class single mother, and, with the help of the nanotech Primer, grows up to become an independent woman and leader of a new phyle. Image File history File links Diamond_Age_Penguin_1998. ... Image File history File links Diamond_Age_Penguin_1998. ...


Harv (Harvard) - Her brother, who plays an important role in the beginning as her helper.


Bud — a petty criminal and “thete,” a tribeless individual, Tequila's boyfriend and Nell and Harv's father; he is obsessed with his muscular body, flaunts his masculinity and is finally executed for mugging a member of the Ashanti phyle.


Tequila, Nell and Harv's mother; after Bud's death, she has a series of boyfriends who abuse the children.


John Percival Hackworth — the second major character. He is an upper-level engineer at Bespoke and develops the code for the Primer. He makes an illicit copy of the primer for his daughter, who is Nell's age. When his crime is detected, he is forced to become a double agent in a covert power struggle between the Victorians and the Confucians. He is forced to spend ten years with a colony of "Drummers," to use their distributed intelligence (similar but not identical to distributed artificial intelligence) for the development of a new technology, the Seed. He turns out to be the mysterious figure he was supposedly sent to find, The Alchemist. A double agent pretends to spy on a target organization on behalf of a controlling organization, but in fact is loyal to the target organization. ... Distributed artificial intelligence (DAI) was a subfield of Artificial intelligence research dedicated to the development of distributed solutions for complex problems regarded as requiring intelligence. ...

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

Fiona Hackworth — Hackworth's daughter. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ...


Gwendolyn Hackworth — Hackworth's wife.


Lord Alexander Chung-Sik Finkle-McGraw — an "Equity Lord" with the Apthorp conglomerate who commissions the development of the Primer for his granddaughter.


Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw — Lord Finkle-McGraw's granddaughter.


Judge Fang — the Confucian judge who sentences Bud to death; he becomes an increasingly active character (see Judge Dee mysteries below). Judge Dee (or Judge Di) is the hero of Robert van Guliks Judge Dee series. ...


Chang and Miss Pao — Judge Fang's assistants.


Dr. X. — a mysterious character who evolves from being an illicit technology specialist and hacker to being a powerful Confucian leader and nefarious force. His name comes from the fact that most westerners can't pronounce his Mandarin name which is why he encourages people to call him by the first letter of his name, 'X'.


Miranda — "ractor" (actor in interactive movies) who becomes a mother figure for Nell through the Primer.


Carl Hollywood — "ractor" and performance artist, Miranda's friend and advisor. This character also becomes more important towards the end of the novel.


Major themes

  • The importance of a personal connection between educator and child.
  • The importance of cultural association over "racial" affiliation; some characters (esp. Lord Finkle-McGraw) hold the belief that certain cultural systems are naturally superior to others;
  • The importance of education over biological ancestry, and the importance of experiencing genuine adversity/life-experience over education.
  • A coming-of-age or Bildungsroman central plot centered on a female character;
  • Turing Machiness and the nature of artificial intelligence;
  • An introduction to the theory of computation and encryption basics in the form of a fairy-story within the primer — which the reader encounters with the heroine as the novel unfolds;
  • The contrast between Victorian and Confucian world views, and the contrasting way they view the dangers and opportunities of molecular assemblers and artificial intelligence (as applied to child-raising);
  • A setting in which nation-states are obsolete
  • The emergence of human hive consciousness, using human brains interconnected through nanotechnological messengers (the "Drummers"); and
  • Confucianism as an ideological system (that's portrayed somewhat inaccurately); including a quasi-historical re-telling of the Boxer Rebellion.

Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Prose is writing distinguished from poetry by its greater variety of rhythm and its closer resemblance to everyday speech. ... For other uses, see Culture (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Race. ... For other uses, see Coming of Age (disambiguation). ... A Bildungsroman (IPA: /, German: novel of self-cultivation) is a novelistic form that concentrates on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the protagonist usually from childhood to maturity. ... AI redirects here. ... The theory of computation is the branch of computer science that deals with whether and how efficiently problems can be solved on a computer. ... Encrypt redirects here. ... The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. ... A Confucian temple in Wuwei, Peoples Republic of China. ... A molecular assembler is a molecular machine capable of assembling other molecules given instructions, energy, and a supply of smaller building block molecules to work from. ... AI redirects here. ... The term nation-state, while often used interchangeably with the terms unitary state and independent state, refers properly to the parallel occurence of a state and a nation. ... A group mind or group ego in science fiction is a single consciousness occupying many bodies. ... A Confucian temple in Wuwei, Peoples Republic of China. ... Combatants Eight-Nation Alliance (ordered by contribution): Empire of Japan Russian Empire British Empire French Third Republic United States German Empire Kingdom of Italy Austro-Hungarian Empire Righteous Harmony Society Qing Dynasty (China) Commanders Edward Seymour Alfred Graf von Waldersee Ci Xi Strength 20,000 initially 49,000 total 50...

Sociology and cultural relativism

The Diamond Age deals extensively with the notion of cultural relativism and seems to postulate its failure. The neo-Victorians are clearly represented as technologically, culturally and economically superior to other "phyles" (see Micronation), with the Confucians as close rivals. Although membership to the phyles in most cases is voluntary and not determined by an individual's ancestry or race, the cultural and class hierarchies established in the novel create a clear distinction between the "haves" and the "have-nots." The novel is also notable for a number of incidental descriptions of other cults or groups, such as the Reformed Distributed Republic, which in contrast to the more elaborate "phyles" impose a minimal social protocol. In some cases this protocol only tests the willingness of members to risk their lives, and come to each other's aid by following instructions, with little or no capacity to understand the importance of tasks they undertake in doing so, but a full understanding of the risks. There are things that have the name Phyle: A soliological analog of a biological phyla, mentioned in a novel The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson which includes three great tribes. ... This article is about entities that are not officially recognised by world governments or major international organisations. ... Kinship and descent is one of the major concepts of cultural anthropology. ... For other uses, see Race. ... Cult typically refers to a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream, with a notably positive or negative popular perception. ...


These cultural differences manifest themselves in the very different effect the copies of the primer have on the girls who use them. The original copies of the primer, created for a young girl of the Victorian phyle, provide for human interaction, even if it is mediated through the "ractive" technology. The Victorian girls who are raised with these copies become fully realized and independent individuals, while an army of Han Chinese girls raised with modified, fully automated clones of the primer with no "parental" human contact become efficient, devoted, but incomplete followers. An allusion early in the book suggests that the cloned primers were intentionally disabled by the Victorian engineer who designed them, perhaps to foster a propensity for the Chinese children who use the clones to follow the leadership of the Victorian girls who use the original copies. When asked to make copies of the Primer, "John Percival Hackworth, almost without thinking about it and without appreciating the ramifications of what he was doing, devised a trick and slipped it in under the radar of the Judge and Dr. X and all of the other people in the world. 'While I'm at it, if it pleases the court, I can also' Hackworth said, most obsequiously, 'make changes in the content so that it will be more suitable for the unique cultural requirements of the Han readership. But it will take some time.'"[7] However, this difference can also be interpreted as a desirable feature from the point of view of the Confucians, who emphasize duty, honesty and obedience in their training of women. The limits of the authority of officers, more than the degree of visible tactical control, is an emphasis of Confucianism. The text is ambivalent about whether the "Mouse Army" of girls is merely efficient and devoted or also usefully creative. Language(s) Chinese languages Religion(s) Predominantly Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. ... Duty is a term loosely appliedDuty to any action (or course of action) whichDutyDuty is regarded as morally incumbent, apart from personal likes and dislikes or any external compulsion. ... Honest redirects here, For other uses, see Honesty (disambiguation) Look up honesty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Obedience in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The failure of artificial intelligence

Many have recognized that a major theme of The Diamond Age involves a distinction between artificial intelligence (AI) and human intelligence, with AI being depicted in the novel as having failed in its goal of creating software capable of passing the Turing Test.[8] This theme met with much criticism among AI and nanotechnology enthusiasts.[citation needed] For the Doctor Who novel named after the test, see The Turing Test (novel). ...


In the novel, "Artificial Intelligence" has been renamed "Pseudo-Intelligence" (Hackworth declares the older term to have been "cheeky", meaning presumptuous). That this "pseudo-intelligence" is lacking compared to human intelligence is demonstrated by the fact that humans are able to earn a living as "ractors", interacting with customers in virtual reality entertainments. Since ractors are more expensive than AI, the only reason to use them would be that the customers could tell the difference, implying that in the world of the novel, the marketplace of virtual reality entertainment has become one ongoing Turing Test, and software is continuously failing it.


This theme is woven throughout the story of Nell and her primer. Nell's situation is that a single ractor, Miranda, devotes herself full time to racting the various roles of Nell's primer. Nell somehow senses that there is a real person behind the virtual reality, and desires to meet that person. This longing drives Nell to conduct a Turing Test on a central character in her primer's story, who conveniently is named the Duke of Turing. The test proves the Duke to be a mere automaton. She continues to be obsessed with the question of what in her primer is not merely a Turing machine, her quest eventually centering on the enigmatic King Coyote. One paragraph sums up the novel's viewpoint on AI (emphasis added):

Her study of the Cipherers' Market, and particularly of the rule-books used by the cipherers to respond to messages, had taught her that for all its complexity, it too was nothing more than another Turing machine. She had come here to the Castle of King Coyote to see whether the King answered his messages according to Turing-like rules. For if he did, then the entire system — the entire kingdom — the entire Land Beyond — was nothing more than a vast Turing machine. And as she had established when she'd been locked up in the dungeon at Castle Turing, communicating with the mysterious Duke by sending messages on a chain, a Turing machine, no matter how complex, was not human. It had no soul. It could not do what a human did.[9]

When Nell finally meets King Coyote and defeats him by crashing his systems with malicious coding, he reveals to her that the primer is not entirely a Turing machine, but that there are some real people behind it, such as himself. In fact, King Coyote reveals himself to be none other than John Hackworth. And when Nell asks whether there has always been another real person with her from the beginning of her days with the primer, the foster mother she has never met but senses is there, her emotions with regard to the question are evident:

"And is there..."

Nell stopped reading the Primer for a moment. Her eyes had filled with tears.


"Is there what?" said John's voice from the book.


"Is there another? Another who has been with me during my quest?"


"Yes, there is," John said quietly, after a short pause. "At least I have always sensed that she is here."[10]

The same theme is reinforced somewhat by the reactions to the primer of the other girls, Fiona, Elizabeth, and the Chinese orphans:

  • Fiona, like Nell, develops a strong emotional bond with her primer's main ractor, which in her case is her father, Hackworth. Despite her beliefs being discouraged by her mother, she never doubts that the entity she communicates with via the primer is her real father, not merely a software facsimile.
  • Elizabeth's case is different. Since the default functioning of ractor contracts is that they are assigned on an as-needed basis, and the novel never shows us that someone does for Elizabeth what Miranda does for Nell and Hackworth does for Fiona, we can conclude that Elizabeth's primer has no central ractor working for it throughout the years. Elizabeth is unique in that she does not establish a deep relationship with her primer; she is indifferent to it.
  • The primers used by the Chinese orphans have no human ractors supplementing them. However, since all of the primers are networked in some way, the Chinese girls manage to become aware of the existence of Nell. Their reaction is extraordinary; Nell becomes the object of their devotion, their Queen. Is this devotion supposed to be akin to Nell's love for Miranda, an expression of longing among the Chinese girls for a conscious entity in a virtual world which for them was otherwise populated only with pseudo-intelligent agents?

Some readers lump this apparent rejection of AI with other "technological flaws" in the novel.[11] These flaws generally involve observations that since the civilization depicted has advanced nanotechnology, even more amazing devices should be present; in fact, a technological singularity should have occurred. However, technological singularity theory tends to involve the notion that an "intelligence explosion" will occur when AI's are developed which are capable of designing yet more powerful AI's. It follows that a future without AI could be one without a singularity. For this reason, a full understanding of the novel requires recognizing that it is an attempt to portray a future with nanotechnology but without AI. When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ...


Allusions/references to other works

Charles Dickens

The novel's neo-Victorian setting, as well as its narrative form, particularly the chapter headings, suggest a relation to the work of Charles Dickens.[12] The protagonist's name points directly to Little Nell from Dickens' novel The Old Curiosity Shop (1840/41). Dickens redirects here. ... The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. ...


Edward Lear

The code name for The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is "Runcible," a reference to the final lines of the nineteenth century children's poem The Owl and the Pussycat by the artist, illustrator and writer Edward Lear: // A runcible spoon is a utensil that appears in the nonsense poetry of Edward Lear. ... Edward Lears illustration of the Owl and the Pussycat The Owl and the Pussycat is a famous nonsense poem by Edward Lear, first published in 1871. ... Edward Lear, 1812-1888 Eagle Owl, Edward Lear, 1837 Another Edward Lear owl, in his more familiar style Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks, a form which he popularised. ...

They dined on mince, and slices of quince
  Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
  They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Judge Dee mysteries

The novel's character Judge Fang is based on a creative extension of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee mystery series around a Confucian Judge in ancient China who usually solves three cases simultaneously.[13] The Judge Dee stories are based on the tradition of Chinese mysteries, transposing key elements into Western detective fiction. Robert van Gulik (August 9, 1910 - September 24, 1967) was a highly educated orientalist, diplomat and writer, best known for the Judge Dee mysteries. ... Judge Dee (or Judge Di) is the hero of Robert van Guliks Judge Dee series. ... Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes Detective fiction is a branch of crime fiction that centers upon the investigation of a crime, usually murder, by a detective, either professional or amateur. ...


Cyberpunk

Nell's father, Bud, is presented as an archetypical Cyberpunk character. He is a career criminal (though not a particularly skilled or high-ranking one) with various surgically implanted devices to aid him in his 'work'. Stephenson attempts to establish The Diamond Age as a "post-cyberpunk" book by killing this character early on, while acknowledging the influence of that genre. Berlins Sony Center reflects the global reach of a Japanese corporation. ...


Snow Crash

The Diamond Age can be seen as set in the same universe as Snow Crash, many years later. This reading is based on a connection between Y.T., a major character in Snow Crash, and the aged neo-Victorian Miss Matheson in The Diamond Age, who drops oblique references to her past as a hard-edged skateboarder. This would set The Diamond Age some 60-80 years after Snow Crash.[14] Snow Crash is Neal Stephensons third science fiction novel, published in 1992. ...


More bases for this reading of the two novels as connected include:

  • Stephenson's short story "The Great Simoleon Caper" which refers to both the Metaverse seen in Snow Crash and the First Distributed Republic seen in The Diamond Age (another short story which fits in the Diamond Age milieu and even shares a character is "Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of Tribes of the Pacific Coast").
  • references to Franchise-Operated Quasi-National Entities (FOQNEs) in both novels.

When taken as part of Snow Crash's timeline, The Diamond Age provides insight into the setting of its predecessor. In a conversation with Miranda, one character tells her that the nation-states of the world collapsed when electronic communications started using an untraceable relay system that made it impossible to enforce taxes on online transactions. Deprived of their funding, large-scale governments collapsed, and small, voluntary governments like Snow Crash's burbclaves emerged in their place. The concept of a distributed republic is that of a fluid republic consisting of land and citizens scattered across the globe, changing far more frequently than conventional nation-states. ... The term nation-state, while often used interchangeably with the terms unitary state and independent state, refers properly to the parallel occurence of a state and a nation. ... Anonymous Internet Banking is the name given to the proposed use of strong financial cryptography to make electronic bank secrecy (or more precisely pseudonymous banking) possible. ... This box:      The underground economy or shadow economy consists of all commerce that is not taxed. ... Electronic money (also known as electronic cash, electronic currency, digital money, digital cash or digital currency) refers to money or scrip which is exchanged only electronically. ...


Both novels deal with an almost "primitive tech" replacing a current, worldwide use technology, in the sense of the reprogramming of the mind through ancient Sumerian chanting in Snow Crash (which also uses allusions to Babylonian prostitutes passing an information virus like a sexually transmitted disease), and the idea of nanotechnology propagating and communicating through sexual intercourse, passing from body to body like a virus. Both novels use an ancient, almost primitive threat to modern, "Western" technology and ideology (The Raft in Snow Crash and The Fists of Righteous Harmony in The Diamond Age). Stephenson explores the idea of the tech divide and its social and economic ramifications to the extreme using these violent, but not all together surprising, social revolutions.


Television adaptation

In January of 2007, the Sci-Fi Channel announced that it will be making a six hour mini-series based on The Diamond Age. Stephenson will be adapting the novel for the miniseries, and George Clooney and Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions will be executive producers on the project. There is currently no scheduled release date.[15] SCI FI (originally The Sci-Fi Channel, sometimes rendered SCI FI Channel) is an American cable television channel, launched in early 1992,[1] that specializes in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. ... George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter, who gained fame as one of the lead doctors in the long-running television drama, ER (1994–99), as Anthony Edwardss characters best friend and partner...


Notes

  1. ^ Honor roll:Science Fiction books. Award Annals (2007-08-15). Retrieved on 2007-08-15.
  2. ^ Clooney Project LiveJournal entry
  3. ^ Zap2it.com article
  4. ^ Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995):184.
  5. ^ Cf. Dinello, 2005:232
  6. ^ Merkle, 1997
  7. ^ Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995):179-180.
  8. ^ SFX Profile: Neal Stephenson "The new William Gibson", SFX magazine #8 Jan 1996
  9. ^ Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995):442.
  10. ^ Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995):445.
  11. ^ Bookshelved Wiki: TheDiamondAge
  12. ^ Cf. "The Diamond Age," the complete review
  13. ^ Mark Kleiman makes this connection in his glowing review of The Diamond Age
  14. ^ In a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 8, 2003, Stephenson himself confirmed the connection.
  15. ^ Sci-Fi Wire — The News Service of the Sci-Fi Channel: "Clooney, Others Develop SCI FI Shows" 1-12-2007.

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... This article is about the day of the year. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... This article is about the day of the year. ... Book signing is the affixing of a signature to the title page or flyleaf of a book by its author. ... Harvard redirects here. ... Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Middlesex Settled 1630 Incorporated 1636 Government  - Type Mayor-City Council  - Mayor Kenneth Reeves (D) Area  - Total 7. ... is the 281st day of the year (282nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

References

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
  • Berends, Jan Berrien. "The Politics of Neal Stephenson's the Diamond Age." New York Review of Science Fiction 9.8 (104) (1997): 15.
  • Berry, Michael. A High-Tech Victorian Romp, The San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday, January 8, 1995.
  • Brigg, Peter. "The Future as the Past Viewed from the Present: Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age." Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy 40.2 (1999): 116.
  • Dinello, Daniel. Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005. ISBN 0-292-70954-4 (hardcover); ISBN 0-292-70986-2 (paperback)
  • Kleiman, Mark. Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age, blogcritics.org. February 17, 2003.
  • Merkle, Ralph. It's a Small, Small, Small, Small World., Technology Review (Feb/Mar 1997): 25.
  • Merritt, Ethan A. "Re: The Diamond Age — Honourable Failure" newsgroup posting, May 9, 1996.
  • Miksanek, Tony. "Microscopic Doctors and Molecular Black Bags: Science Fiction's Prescription for Nanotechnology and Medicine." Literature and Medicine 20.1 (2001): 55-70.
  • Sci-Fi Wire — The News Service of the Sci-Fi Channel: Clooney, Others Develop SCI FI Shows 1-12-2007
Awards
Preceded by
Mirror Dance
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Hugo Award for Best Novel
1996
Succeeded by
Blue Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ... The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of science fiction novels and short stories by Lois McMaster Bujold, most of which concern Miles Vorkosigan, a disabled aristocrat from the planet Barrayar who heads his own private mercenary fleet at the age of just seventeen. ... Lois McMaster Bujold (November 2, 1949, Columbus, Ohio) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy works. ... The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works. ... The year 1996 in literature involved some significant events and new books. ... The Mars trilogy is a series of three science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson, chronicling the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars. ... For the late American actress, see Kim Stanley. ... 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 Baroque Cycle, a series of books written by Neal Stephenson, appeared in print in 2003 and 2004. ... Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is the first volume of his series The Baroque Cycle. ... The Confusion is a novel by Neal Stephenson. ... The System of the World, a novel by Neal Stephenson, forms the third volume in The Baroque Cycle. ... The Big U (1984) is Neal Stephensons first published novel, a satire of campus life. ... 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. ... Snow Crash is Neal Stephensons third science fiction novel, published in 1992. ... Interface is a 1994 novel by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury. ... Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by Neal Stephenson. ... Hackers (ISBN 0-441-00375-3) is an anthology of short stories edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. ... The Great Simoleon Caper is a short story by Neal Stephenson that appeared in TIME Domestic SPECIAL ISSUE, Spring 1995 Volume 145, No. ... Jipi and the Paranoid Chip is a science fiction short story by Neal Stephenson that appeared in Forbes Magazines July 7, 1997 issue. ... For the article by Neal Stephenson, see Smileys people. ... Global Neighborhood Watch[1] is an article by Neal Stephenson that appeared in Wired Magazine in 1998. ... In the Beginning. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Diamond - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (8636 words)
Diamond is the hardest known naturally occurring material, scoring 10 on the relative Mohs scale of mineral hardness and having an absolute hardness value of between 167 and 231 gigapascals in various tests.
Diamonds have also rarely been found in deposits left behind by glaciers (notably in Wisconsin and Indiana); however, in contrast to alluvial deposits, glacial deposits are not known to be of significant concentration and are therefore not viable commercial sources of diamond.
Diamonds which are not cut to the specifications of Tolkowsky's round brilliant shape (or subsequent variations) are known as "fancy cuts." Popular fancy cuts include the baguette (from the French, meaning rod or loaf of bread), marquise, princess (square outline), heart, briolette (a form of the rose cut), and pear cuts.
The Diamond Age - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1284 words)
The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is a 1995 cyberpunk or postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson taking place in a world where nanotechnology is ubiquitous.
The Diamond Age is most likely set in the same universe as Snow Crash, many years later, based on the assumption that Y.T., a major character in Snow Crash, reappears as the aged Miss Matheson, who drops oblique references to her past as a hard-edged skateboarder.
It's not hard to see why they're dissatisfied, given that only the central plot of The Diamond Age is resolved while life goes on in the background (with the subplots unresolved) instead of everything grinding to a screeching halt at once (with "and then they lived happily ever after").
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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