Anathem

At first I thought this book was just a descriptive work about a decidedly interesting alternate culture. That would have been in line with a lot of the Baroque Cycle. However, this book is so much more. There is an adventure store, some really interesting philosophy, and even a bit of romance. I enjoyed this book, even if it took ages to read its over 900 pages.

[isbn: 9780061474101]
[awards: nominee hugo 2009; nominee prometheus 2009]

Snow Crash

I’d read this book before, but a long time ago and I decided it was time for a re-read. Its a good book, although the exposition about Sumerian history feels like a first attempt at the style of exposition used in later books like Quicksilver and I think its not as well done here. The story is pretty good sci-fi, even if the plot feels a little dated today. Overall a good book, but not Stephenson’s best.

[isbn: 0140232923;0553562614]

Zodiac

This isn’t Neal’s best work, and I found the second half a little hard to read — I think because it meandered, with several theories for who was responsible being interchanged. They were all reasonable theories, but the jump between each of them was jarring and could have been better done. The version of the book I was reading also had heaps of typographical errors — single character substitutions and stuff like that — which meant you needed to re-read sentences to make them make sense, which was pretty annoying. Overall not the worst book I’ve ever read, but certainly the worst Stephenson I’ve read.

[isbn: 0099415526]

The System of the World

The final book of the Baroque Cycle, and it feels like a real achievement to have gone through them all. They have their slow spots, but also excellent action and characters I love. Best of all, this book focuses on the latter two, with only one section of long theoretical dialog (about the nature of God in this case), which was so common in the other books and somethings so hard to follow. This story line was well worth the 2,500 or so pages it took, and the last book was a pleasure to read. It feels like there should be more books in this universe, but I’m not aware of any — perhaps later?

[award: winner prometheus 2005]
[isbn: 0060750863;0060750863]

Currency

This is the second last book in the Baroque Cycle and its good to see so many diverse plot elements being wrapped up. It does feel like Neal is going to have to work pretty hard to get them all wrapped up in just one more book — especially at the pace that these books move at. This book focuses on Daniel’s adventures in London, although the usual suspects are of course present. An enjoyable read.

[isbn: 0060750863;0060895357]

The Diamond Age

I loved this book. I think its going on my list of all time favorites. The first half of the book is better than the second, but I think that might be because young Nell resonated much more strongly with me than older Nell. I read this book because it came up at a scientific conference where I went to a presentation about 3D fabrication, and its now entirely clear why the presenter thought this was relevant, given 3D nanotech fabrication plays a strong part in this book. Excellent read.

[award: nominee prometheus 1996; winner hugo 1996; nominee nebula_novel 1996]
[isbn: 0553573314]

Solomon’s Gold

This is book six of the Baroque Cycle, following on from Quicksilver, King of the Vagabonds, Odalisque, Bonanza, and The Juncto (the last two of which are referred to as The Confusion when read together as a single volume).

I’m glad that I accidentally read Longitude before this book, as in this work Daniel is a proponent of the lunar distance method, which was one of the main contenders to win the Longitude Prize. Lord Ravenscar proposed the prize in the book, which is a nice plot element. He of course wants to win the prize as well.

This book is much faster moving than most of the previous (except perhaps for King of the Vagabonds and Bonanza). Its a good read, and I can see how all of the previous setup is starting to pay off.

[isbn: 0060750863;0060895284]

The Confusion

The Confusion is a merging of Bonanza and The Juncto, which I think is more than the mere sum of the two parts. The weaving of the stories together makes for a very readable volume, with slow patches in each individual story line being covered nicely with a switch to the other. Additionally there are a few several year gaps in the stories which would be much more jarring if there wasn’t something from the other story line in between. Overall, I think I prefer to read these two books in this con-fused manner, instead of separately.

[isbn: 0060733357]