Neal Stephenson

Science fiction author.

He wrote:

With his uncle GeorgeJewsbury? under the pseudonym StephenBury? Quicksilver now has its own wiki: QuicksilverWiki.

I removed a lot of comments anticipating release of QS. They were badly outdated and didn't seem to contain much information. I hope that is fine. -- AnonymousCoward Updated list of works in relation to release of TheSystemOfTheWorld?. -- AndrewFischer?

Recently, it seems Neal gave the keynote address at Usenix. Some kind soul has posted some notes:$7628#7629

I have a friend who is a sociologist with a minor interest in computers. He loved SnowCrash and TheDiamondAge. Perhaps NealStephenson doesn't write sci-fi geek fiction, but rather sociologist geek fiction?

I hope not, because NS' sociology sucks much worse than his technology. It sucks hard.

In TheDiamondAge, Stephenson posits (among many other things) the existence in the near future of a group called the CryptNet; for membership in the CryptNet, you must merely agree to accept packets of information from anonymous people on the network and handle them in accordance with particular rules. The packets are encrypted, and the CryptNet system is designed to defeat traffic analysis systems.

See FreeNet, which already exists.

Shortly after I read TheDiamondAge, I came across a real group of people called the CypherPunks, who have an email redirection system called MixMaster which does exactly that. I thought that was pretty cool. -- BrettNeumeier

Stephenson based CryptNet on Cypherpunks, this is not a coincidence. He did similar things in various places, such as a thinly veiled reference to Linux under a different name.

I can't help but add a comment on NealStephenson. I've been away from reading fiction for years, but he has rekindled that interest. He has a wonderful way of putting things, has an immense vocabulary, provokes thinking, and really groks technology. I highly recommend his books. I've only read SnowCrash and TheDiamondAge so far, but I've greatly enjoyed them both, even though the endings leave something to be desired.

I got interested in him from a couple of essays he's written that are available online. They gave me a good feel for his style and knowledge and that prompted me to read his books. In addition to InTheBeginningWasTheCommandLine, also available is "MotherEarthMotherBoard" he wrote for Wired.

I can't help but rebut your plaudits. I've been reading science-fiction for years and he killed off that interest right quick. He has no original ideas, the ones in his books are either complete rip-offs or ludicrous, he provokes derision and hatred, and doesn't have the first clue about any of the technology he's writing about. In addition, he's an incompetent writer who never finishes his stories, letting the story lines become ludicrous and die out before he ends the books with "and they had a big fight and ...". I warn anyone and everyone against his books.

Oh, and I proved all my points here on

Yet, despite your proof, his books are wildly popular. I guess everyone should nonetheless avoid them; it couldn't be just a matter of taste.

One word: Hollywood.

My interest in NS began on a wiki somewhere where it was easily shown that the folks who had played in the sand box had passed their TuringTest, and that brought in an anonymous comment about Cryptonomicon, which I soon found at the local library.

More info at

I can't recommend NealStephenson enough! -- ShaeErisson

I loved Cryptonomicon. And I can't wait until QuickSilver comes out. -- Karim Cherif, The Netherlands

Cryptonomicon was the first fiction I've bought in hardcover in years. Maybe decades. QuickSilver will probably be the second. I just wish the man wrote faster!! -- KatherineDerbyshire

You know, that pic of Stephenson as a kid reading the kid's book of codes and cyphers? I read that book when I was a kid. There's something heartfelt about that.

An excerpt of Quicksilver is now on-line at

20050603 Quicksilver is now out in paperback: ISBN 0380977427

CategoryAuthor, CategoryScienceFiction

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