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Even More Stephenson!

TCS: Tech Central Station – Living in the Seventeenth Century is a short column by the Blogfather, Glenn Reynolds, concerning Quicksilver‘s 17th Century setting. An interesting read. Glenn also has a short interview with Stephenson. In it, Stephenson again uses the ‘geek’ analogy as to why he uses pen and paper instead of a computer to create his first drafts.

I also realize I should probably say a few words about Stephenson’s book signing Kevin and I went to last week. I know Kevin was disappointed in how Stephenson presented himself for the 40 minute Q&A session, but I felt he did a good job, especially for a non-public speaker. He had some interesting things to say, and, along the lines of the pen and paper affectation, Stephenson says that as he’s grown older, he uses his computers less and less. I wonder if that is peculiar to him or to his generation in general. I dont think I’m going to follow along that path so I wonder if there is some generational dividing line where tech, well computers anyway, loses its appeal after a certain age? Is it that as we grow older we become more conservative (not politically) and less accepting of change? I don’t know. Heck, I don’t even know how old Stephenson is so I don’t know if he is in my generation or the previous one.

Anyway, it was a fun trip and I got an autographed book out of it. I’m reading it now. Just a word of caution, Quicksilver is another book where you need blocks of time to really get into it. Also, there is an online annotation site for Quicksilver at MetWeb.com.

About JP Frantz (2322 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

3 Comments on Even More Stephenson!

  1. I’m a little bit older than Stephenson and I use computers more than when I first bought a microcomputer in 1979. Except when I was book writing (using AppleWriter, and a monitor that had all caps text – capital capital letters where in reverse video. I can still see it when I close my eyes).

  2. Maybe its just Stephenson then. I’m assuming that there is a set of people who feel like he does. I know I’m not one of them. And neither are my parents, well, my dad anyway. Of course, he’s in to ham radios, and has been for most of his life, so the whole tech thing, electronics-wise, is interesting to him. And he’s older than Stephenson….

  3. If I were to guess, I’d say that Stephenson is trying to distance himself as much as possible from the stereotype he’s fallen into of being a techno sci-fi writer.

    That is perhaps evidenced in Quicksilver, which is not, from what I’ve heard (I’ve not started reading it yet) a sci-fi book at all.

    I think it takes a whole lot of work (research) to put out good science fiction, and cutting-edge sci-fi like that starts looking long in the tooth in a few years when the technology advances.

    At the book signing, Stephenson was asked about advances in crtyptography (the basis for his book Cryptonomicon), specifically a new field called quantum cryptography. He stated that he was aware of the field, but didn’t know much about it.

    To sum up, I got the impression that he researches what he needs to in order to write a book, and if that book is science fiction and includes cutting-edge ‘real’ technology, then people will expect you to keep up on that technology and have witty, insightful things to say about it. Quicksilver, being historical fiction, does not have that problem.

    This note sounds negative, and I don’t really want it to. I love all the books of his that I read, and am looking forward to reading Quicksilver, even if it ISN’T sci-fi (hey, I’m currently reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden (and not just ‘cuz it’s on the Oprah book list.))

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