Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Sc-Tr)

Stephenson, Neal

future fi’

(US, 1959– )

Stephenson injects old-fashioned ‘sci-fi’ with mind-expanding drugs, magic realism, dodgy sex, paranoia, cutting-edge technologies, and turns it into ‘cy-fi’. Start with Snowcrash (1992). In Reality Hiro Protagonist delivers pizzas for the Mafia but in the (virtual) Metaverse, he's a hack-'em-up warrior prince fighting a virus from ancient Sumeria which is destroying All Known Data. Move on to The Diamond Age (1995), Nano-Technology and a future ruled by a retro-Victorian élite. Then try Cryptonomicon (1999), whose 900-page paranoid narrative cuts between code-breaking in the Second World War and future attempts to set up an encrypted info-haven free from government and commercial spies. Its literary model is clearly Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973), whose historical grasp, outrageous imagination, posturing style, fondness for conspiracy theories, and inadequacies of characterization Stephenson shares.

William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker  MH

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