Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The World Outside the Web - Neal Stephenson's new book upends geek chic. By Paul Boutin

The World Outside the Web - Neal Stephenson's new book upends geek chic. By Paul Boutin "Having made it through what is essentially a full-sized novel, it takes more than a deep breath to dive back in for Quicksilver's two remaining 300-page sections. Will readers hang in there, and then return for two more 1,000-page tomes next year (The Confusion and The System of the World) to learn how it all fits together? More likely, the Baroque Cycle will join Gödel, Escher, Bach—which prompted several college friends to name their computers "Escher" and then get sucked into programming instead of finishing the book—in inspiring a generation of propellerheads who will often quote it but never finish it. It's impossible to say what fields of study they'll apply themselves to, but Stephenson's core message is what matters in these post-bubble days: You haven't missed your chance. Budding geniuses who can no longer feign interest in what happens to Neo and Trinity will gladly immerse themselves in Quicksilver's mercurial amalgam of science, fiction, and history, at least for the first installment. But jeez, Neal, 3,000 pages? Newton invented calculus in less time than it'll take to read about it."

Fascinating to see so much blog buzz on the book -- Stephenson's influence clearly runs deep.

We're in quite a Newtonian book cycle; also check out James Gleick's Isaac Newton.

I wonder what Harold Bloom, who crucified both Harry Potter and Stephen King in an article in today's Boston Globe, would have to say about the Stephenson and Gleick books...
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