Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

15 Jun

What would your reaction be if you have seen the following on page 10 of a novel?

\zeta(s) = \sum\limits_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s} = 1 + \frac{1}{2^s} + \frac{1}{3^s} + \ldots

Mine was along the lines of “we’ve got some interesting sci-fi author here, let’s go on!”. Or something close to that, as far as I can remember my first encounter with Neal Stephenson more than twelve years ago that started with Cryptonomicon and continued with titles such as Snow Crash and Anathem.

Stephenson never failed to satisfy and he has always delivered more than I expected as a curious reader. His latest book, “Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing“, a compilation of his short, and some not so short, essays and stories, is full of little surprises and a lot of depth. For the reader, it is quite a remarkable experience to see how Stephenson’s style has developed throughout the years, the author of Anathem has notable differences compared to the author of Cryptonomicon.

As with any other Stephenson book, it is not easy to recommend this book to many people because even among Stephenson fans, I believe there are some differences: some like his more action packed techno thrillers, whereas some find the juicy stuff in his books where he does not refrain to step into the darker and heavier areas of metaphysics and quantum mechanics. Luckily, this compilation of essays and short stories has enough diversity to satisfy any kind of Stephenson fan. As for the ‘outsiders’, I would suggest the very short essay titled “Time Magazine Article About Anathem”. In less than 4 pages, Stephenson accomplishes his feat by portraying the very core idea of one of his major works by using a striking analogy and then very gently forcing the reader to think about the consequences of some disturbing trends.

If you consider yourself a nerd, a geek, or someone with insatiable curiosity towards technology, modern world and how it came to be, philosophy, Newton, Leibniz, history, pop culture and why some writers who think the only way to exist is to have a source of income by lecturing at the universities cannot understand other writers who sell enough books to make a decent living, then I bet a bottle of champagne that you’ll have a lot of good time reading this book.


Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Books


Tags: , , , , ,

3 responses to “Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

  1. Joek van Montfort

    June 15, 2013 at 19:07

    Risky bet I assume.

  2. Emre Sevinç

    June 15, 2013 at 19:31

    We can make it a bootle of beer and talk about the outcome at Kulminator 😉

  3. erwin

    August 25, 2013 at 21:24

    I’m alway in for a bottle of beer 😉


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