Wonderful premise, great setup with deeply realistic characters who live in a world where scientists and scholars all live in a monkish world of isolation from the rest of society, and are free to study and analyze. They are the holders of intellectual truth, in a world overrun with consumerism and stupidity. Perfect premise, made me want to live in that world.However, the latter portion of the book absolutely went to pieces. It's a poor piece of writing, and has absolutely no foreshadowing, no setup, and no real rationale for such a bizarre ending in which multiple realities happen at once. Sheer silliness on the part of Stephenson. Or else he took too many drugs. It's a bit like the disappointing ending of Diamond Age... (but did I mention the drugs?)C'mon, Neal, you can do better than this ending.