Neal Stephenson's New Book

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson's most recent work is two novels in one. 

Novel #1: There is, as you may have heard a vast self-indulgent re-telling of various mythologies, including allusions to Summerian mythos and Biblical mythos. That part is boring, video-game-derived fan fiction written clearly by someone who thought it would be cool to pretend to be Milton for awhile, but has the parse vocabulary and flat descriptive power of the lackluster contemporary SF milieu. Imagine great mythic poetry rewritten by someone who has never read the King James, and you'll get the gist. I don't read a novel to read about the events of a video game, where there is no inner struggle, no character growth, and no sense of real human activity. Pretty sad as a novel. 

Novel #2: 
However, this videogame-style post-death story is wrapped in a highly compelling vision of our emerging future, which contains all of the brilliant observations, near-future forecasting and prescient insights that made me a Neal Stephenson fan in the first place. How easy would it be to "fake" a nuclear attack using social media? Pretty damn easy, and Stephenson shows us how. How rapidly would the midwest population's evangelical righteousness drift into a full-throated embrace of the Old Testament's Levitical dictates? Pretty fast, and Stephenson shows us a just-that-side-of-n0w reality. What is it like to live on the coasts in the high tech circuit today, and yet feel a kinship with a bygone middle America? Yep, that's here, and it's pretty poignant. This real grounded story in the novel is powerful, real, visceral and demonstrates all the wonderful power that Stephenson can bring to bear as a novelist. 

Stephenson just needs a stronger editor who can tell him to knock off the blowhard self-indulgent crap (Novel #1) and focus on a real story with real characters (Novel #2), which in the end is more compelling and more emotionally powerful and contains pointers to both the worst and the best of our shared future.