Tag Archives: Neal Stephenson

My Top 5 iPhone App Author Wish List

The Art of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Pa...
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So now there’s a super duper Iain Banks iPhone App available, which other Science Fiction and Fantasy authors would merit there very own app? Well my top 5 would be:

Dan Simmons

His novels have such a rich background to them  that I am sure there are plenty of background notes which could be digitised and provided as extra features. There’s already iPhone versions of his novels Drood and Terror, but as far as I can tell these don’t have extra features on them.

Jack Vance

A compendium of spells (such as The Spell of Forlorn Encystment) from his Dying Earth stories together with nice illustrations of them would be awesome! I think though this would be a labour of love and I can’t seen anyone except a very dedicated fan producing something like this.

Gene Wolfe

There is an encyclopedia available for his New Sun books already, and something that accessed this information would be a good starting point for an iPhone App. Again not sure anyone would do it now.

Neal Stephenson

Well he does have an interactive App coming for his Mongolaid book, to be published sometime this year I hope. It seems that this will allow fans of the book to submit their own content which will then become part of the App. Sounds amazing!

Terry Pratchett

And lastly the Godfather of comic fantasy. There’s a huge amount of non-fiction material available for his Discworld books already, so I am sure this must be on the cards as well. I have seen what looks like an unauthorised App, which apparently analyses each of the Discworld books, so not exactly special features about the author and his writing, but interesting nevertheless.

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Review of Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Tongue Twister Title

Cryptonomicon is probably just about easier to spell than to say! And some of the maths concepts are pretty difficult to get hold of too. I am quite in awe of how Stephenson can be such an obvious maths and computer geek, yet still have a beautiful hold over the English language. This is some of the best, meatiest, vivid and evocative writing out there. Cyptonomicon is a great achievement.

Meaty Prose Examples

For example take a look at some of these:

“Someone has dumped brown dust into the Pacific, made a great pile of it. On the edge of the pile is a city. The city swings around them, comes closer. Warmer and warmer. It’s Brisbane. A runway streaks ups and he thinks it’s going to take his ass off, like the world’s biggest belt sander. The plane stops. He smells gasoline.”

Different Folks, Different Strokes of Style

Stephenson does a great job of altering the narrative style of each chapter based on which of the three POV characters is at the centre of things.  The three characters are:

  • Randy Lawrence Waterhouse – a modern-day computer geek, and grandson of Lawrence
  • Bobby Shaftoe – a US marine serving in WWII
  • Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse – a math expert serving as a code-breaker in WWII

Losing the thread in the minotaur’s maze

At some point about 2/3 of the way I did feel the story lost the plot somewhat. I became bored and the story seemed to be veering into territory that was unimportant and had slowed the progression of the characters.

This lasted maybe 1-200 pages, but then the last quarter really picked up again. But I suppose you have to expect that sometimes in a book over 900 pages.

Showing Off Knowledge, but We Like to Be Taught

Stephenson likes to tell us stuff: about codes, computers, Greek myths, lots of geeky stuff. If like me you’re into knowledge, you will love it. Stephenson never gets boring with this, there’s always a fascinating twist and a good connection to the narrative as well.

Oh! What is this book about? Well you’ll just have to start reading to find out!

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