Date: 2015-11-02 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ian wright (from livejournal.com)
When people come in to the store wanting to read Neal Stephenson books, I direct them to Snowcrash. I want them to come back.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] w. dow rieder (from livejournal.com)
Yeah, he went steadily downhill after that. And when he got to the bottom, he started to dig. He stuck his head out the hole for parts of Anathem, then went right back to digging.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sean o'hara (from livejournal.com)
I don't know, the whole idea of the Internet being a huge virtual reality environment get sillier and sillier the older and older the actual Internet gets. I mean, can you imagine using such a clunky, cumbersome interface every time you want to look something up on Wikipedia?

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Date: 2015-11-02 04:15 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Illuminati)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
You'd think that one of the reasons why oldsters hate social networks is the fact that the young-uns insist on making up new words, twisting languages into new shapes, and verbing, nouning, and adjectivising the hell out of everything. Five minutes on Tumblr would show him that intelligibility isn't slowed by having modern technology, it's accelerated.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seth ellis (from livejournal.com)
“Japanese are more disciplined than …Italians.”

This is a sub-issue to the larger problem, but...Italians are a race? Is this an unreliable opinion on the part of the speaker?

Date: 2015-11-02 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nelc.livejournal.com
Surprisingly, one of the implications of race being a social construct is that some people construct it differently from others. It was not an awful long time ago that one could speak about national races with as much validity as one can speak of blacks or caucasians or asians now. (Except that "caucasian" seems to be being deprecated now. I guess the young folk talk about 'whites' now, I dunno?)

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Date: 2015-11-02 05:00 pm (UTC)
kjn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kjn
No, they are a nationality. Just like the Japanese. Now how current-day nationalities will map far into the future is an open question.

Date: 2015-11-02 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carloshasanax.livejournal.com
It's an opinion of the speaker, to an Italian, who responds with something like, "I think you forget the Roman legions."

But there's nothing in the development of the plot or the setting that suggests that Stephenson believes it is untrue. (In interviews, he brings up the idea that maybe the characters just think it's true. Profile in courage there, Neal.)

Date: 2015-11-02 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carloshasanax.livejournal.com
Also, I'm pretty sure Stephenson wrote an Italian character because he read a factoid that Italians have one of the highest percentages of Neandertal DNA of modern ethnic groups. It's a plot point that some of the descendants of the Italian Eve reworked themselves with the Neandertal genome, in order to counter the descendants of the Russian Eve who made that remark.

Crazy shit all around.

Oh, James didn't mention that two of the Eves are clearly based on current political figures. Who wants to guess which two?

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Date: 2015-11-04 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kait-the-great.livejournal.com
Italians and Irish are handy examples to show people why racism is ridiculous... they weren't white until really recently. If white is so subjective, what leg does white supremacy have to stand on?

Apparently it's a good thing my grandmother died before I met and married a half-Italian.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sean o'hara (from livejournal.com)
Luke Burrage's takedown of the book is hilarious.

http://www.sfbrp.com/archives/1042

Date: 2015-11-02 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calcinations.livejournal.com
It's good in parts, but I'm at 49 minutes and there is a limit as to how many times I can hear him say boring, dull etc. Making the review like the book isn't a good start.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malovich.livejournal.com
Oh, I liked Anathem well enough. I was kind of looking forward to SevenEves.

It was a bit of a hard read, and really seemed to introduce hardship for the sake of hardship. At least he didn't sideline the female characters out of any major role and made a serious stab at writing them as human beings. The political themes indulges in survivalist fantasy awfully fast ("Oh, things are looking tough, let's start eating people!") and the racial stuff just completely sidelines interracial mixing of any sort like an unconscious reflex to thoughts about mixing with 'those people'.

The thought that social media accelerates consensus, both good and bad, has some validity.

Why yes, I do feel like a therapist reporting on a recovering client, why do you ask?

I like the science fantasy he brings to the table and how he tries to raise regard *for* science. But I think he does need to step off the tradition of Niven and Pournelle if he's fighting for relevance in today's market. A bridge he is not, because much of what Niven/Pournelle were rooted in was poisoned by assumptions about the nature of humanity that were deeply flawed and I find people who try to revive that line of thought refuse to examine *why*.

I'd recommend people read Blindsight to give them a clue or few. Or the Behemoth series.

Date: 2015-11-02 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bruce munro (from livejournal.com)
"The political themes indulges in survivalist fantasy awfully fast ("Oh, things are looking tough, let's start eating people!")"

http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/in-retrospect-i-guess-we-might-have-resorted-to-ca-10878

Date: 2015-11-02 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jeriendhal.livejournal.com
Drat. I was sorta looking forward to reading this after the enthusiasm shown by Adam Savage on Tested. Ah well.

Date: 2015-11-02 04:57 pm (UTC)
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
From: [personal profile] dsrtao
I have some advice on this, which has worked out well on one victim.

Read the book, starting at the point about 2/3 through where it says "Five thousand years later."

If you feel the need to look up some reference that you aren't getting, flip through the earlier section. You probably won't.

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Date: 2015-11-02 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agharta75.livejournal.com
Is a bubble bursting?

Date: 2015-11-02 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] magedragonfire.livejournal.com
"For example, Stephenson loves to pause the story to infodump."

I liked Snow Crash well enough, but his tendency of doing this drove me up the wall even then, especially because most of it was so unnecessary. Any reader paying enough attention had probably already figured out what he was spending ten or twenty pages of explanation on by the time he got around to thinking that every little thing had to be spelled out.

Date: 2015-11-02 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chrysostom476.livejournal.com
This is why "In the Beginning was the Command Line" was perfect for him - it's nothing BUT infodump!

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Date: 2015-11-02 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awesomeaud.livejournal.com
Deep mine shaft bunkers weren't an option?

Date: 2015-11-02 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carloshasanax.livejournal.com
How badly do you want a spoiler? Not badly enough to read this book, I'll bet.

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Date: 2015-11-02 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ross-teneyck.livejournal.com
I didn't actually dislike it. I don't particularly have any urge to go back and re-read it, but I don't rage against having that time stolen from my life.

(By contrast, I enjoyed Anathem quite a lot, and every once in a while I find myself thinking of bits of Reamde. And Snow Crash was good fun.)

Getting back to Seveneves, I think part of my tolerance comes from the fact that, at some point in my youth, I subconsciously formed a rule that an author writing in "What if?" mode is allowed one (1) unexplained, unexamined, utterly implausible thing or event, but the rest of the story needs to be a more-or-less plausible working out of the consequences of that premise. To me, the GSK was Stephenson's unexplained what-if premise.

In fact (tangent!) back in the day I had a long argument in r.a.sf.w about Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep books, and eventually I realized that my opinion of them was rooted in this what-if model, with the existence of the Zones as the unexplained absurd premise; and by implication I felt strongly that it was important that he not ever investigate or explain the premise. Whereas other people were reading them as essentially a Big Dumb Object story, with the entire galaxy and its Zones as the BDO; and the implicit contract of a BDO story is that the mystery of the O must be explained by the end.

Date: 2015-11-02 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ffutures.livejournal.com
I never had any problems with the Zones because I read Anderson's Brain Wave when I was 16 or so and it had a similar premise - basically, the Solar System moves out of the Slow Zone and everyone's IQ is boosted. As are the minds of animals etc. The consequences are interesting.

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Date: 2015-11-02 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] celestialweasel.livejournal.com
Things that struck me:
1. Surely, if the GSK happens, your first thought is 'are the bits going to smash into (a) Earth (b) each other, then Earth?' not 'la la la I am going to give them cute names then when some of them smash into each other a light bulb goes off over my head'?
2. There were elements of the 5000 years ahead section that struck me as a deliberate piss-take of YA tropes (e.g. the character name, the lbhgushy ebznapr (nuuuu)). Who's with me on that? Surely he can't be so lacking in irony?
3. In general the 5000 year ahead section struck me as a set up for a MMO. I thought 'well, this looks a (slightly) interesting set up for something - maybe someone should use the setting and write a story with a plot'.
4. Fheryl, vs lbh jnag gb fheivir guvf, rira jvgu gur vzzrafryl pbagevirq fpranevb, gur boivbhf cynpr gb tb vf qbja abg hc? Nu, ybbxf yvxr ur'f gubhtug bs gung ba fbzr yriry. Ohg V fhccbfr zber crbcyr jnag gb ernq nobhg beovgny zrpunavpf.

Date: 2015-11-02 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carloshasanax.livejournal.com
I figure space Twitter would have figured out the OMG WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE part in about forty-five minutes.

But then SOCIAL MEDIA couldn't have been demonized, a significant part of the novel, in a novel where that should be approximately zero percent.

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Date: 2015-11-02 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] celestialweasel.livejournal.com
Stephenson is weird. Something that nags at me is that if the science of forensic braineaterology were more developed we could have (and possibly should have anyway) predicted the manner of his decline. Which actually has been slower than I would have predicted given, say, the straw wo-man girlfriend in Cryptonomicon.
There are odd aspects to his work, like the way Randy's time-line doesn't really add up in Cryptonomicon and the way flaws in the set up in Anathem keep leaping out at one (breaking WSOD) that seem like a couple of sessions down the pub with pals and getting a couple of pals to read it could have easily fixed them.

Date: 2015-11-02 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Could you expand on the flaws in Anathem? At this late date I don't recall anything too stroke-inducing.

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Date: 2015-11-02 11:49 pm (UTC)
dryadinthegrove: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dryadinthegrove
Welp, I feel safe in crossing this book off my list to read for work.

Date: 2015-11-03 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheshirych.livejournal.com

Unfirtunately, seveneves is flawed. In the same way as reamde, but more so. The worst sin is wooden main characters. Ewwww. Hear me, Neal, cut the crap. U can do great stuff, we know you can, because u have done it in snowcrash, in diamond age, in zodiac, and in anathame. And in Big U too. Come on dude. Journalism and novell writing are different things, they mix poorly

Date: 2015-11-03 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ritaxis.livejournal.com
Worse than Reamde?

That's the book that made me swear off Stephenson forever and ever. The doorstops only made me not read Stephenson doorstops, because there was always Snowcrash and The Diamond Age. (which were flawed, but brilliant) But Reamde terminally disgusting in so many ways--racist, sexist, self-serving, narcissicistic, forced-plot bullshit, I figured after that I'd never go near him again.

If this book is worse than that, I guess I called it right.

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From: [identity profile] tavella.livejournal.com - Date: 2015-11-03 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

I'm sorry someone evil made you read it ;)

Date: 2015-11-03 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
But your tears are delicious to me.

Thanks!

Date: 2015-11-03 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vschanoes.livejournal.com
"Look at the test scores of Ashkenazi Jews."

Sure. The pogroms only killed the dumb ones. That's how it works. Christ. So to speak.

Is this the book where women with painful mental illnesses inexplicably choose not only not to treat their own illnesses but to perpetuate said illnesses among their descendants? Because speaking as a woman with a painful mood disorder, I have a lot to say about that bullshit.

Date: 2015-11-03 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gohover.livejournal.com
"Look at the test scores of Ashkenazi Jews."

While the subject makes me very uncomfortable, I think it is a legitimite scientific subject, along with many other questions about the validity of test scores, and along with various related questions of nature vs nurture. And if it is a legitimate scientific subjet, it isn't out of place in a science fiction book. And maybe you aren't saying otherwise - I'm not sure.

I know almost nothing about the subject, but this article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence
led to to this:
http://harpending.humanevo.utah.edu/Documents/ashkiq.webpub.pdf

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Date: 2015-11-03 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] awesomeaud.livejournal.com
It turns out that Seveneves is on the Goodreads list of 15 nominees for 'Best Science Fiction'.

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-science-fiction-books-2015

I've only heard of five of these books, and only actually read on (Ancillary Mercy).

Date: 2015-11-04 02:32 pm (UTC)
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (Default)
From: [identity profile] spiralsheep.livejournal.com
Yes, they seem to have allowed a woman onto the list by accident. Is there a culture in which "Ann" is a male-gendered name?

Date: 2015-11-04 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrewwheeler.livejournal.com
To defend myself slightly, I tended to think of it as "sending James books that he can criticize in amusing ways." It was never my intention to cause actual pain.

Given how fast you read, and how much junk is out there, if I wanted to keep you fed I couldn't only send you things you'd like. As I recall, I was sending off four or five books most weeks, and I had to let the rest of the readers have *some* of the decent books.

And I think there were some topics/authors that you specifically asked not to see -- I don't remember what those were, ten years later, but you could have added to the list if the mental anguish was getting too acute.

Date: 2015-11-04 10:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
I thought it was hilarious. Just to be clear, here.

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