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The Diamond Age [Format Kindle]

Neal Stephenson
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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John Percival Hackworth is a nanotech engineer on the rise when he steals a copy of "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" for his daughter Fiona. The primer is actually a super computer built with nanotechnology that was designed to educate Lord Finkle-McGraw's daughter and to teach her how to think for herself in the stifling neo-Victorian society. But Hackworth loses the primer before he can give it to Fiona, and now the "book" has fallen into the hands of young Nell, an underprivileged girl whose life is about to change.

Extrait

Now, a look inside...

A thete visits a mod parlor; noteworthy features of modern armaments.

The bells of St. Mark's were ringing changes up on the mountain when Bud skated over to the mod parlor to upgrade his skull gun. Bud had a nice new pair of blades with a top speed of anywhere from a hundred to a hundred and fifty kilometers, depending on how fat you were and whether or not you wore aero. Bud liked wearing skin-tight leather, to show off his muscles. On a previous visit to the mod parlor, two years ago, he had paid to have a bunch of 'sites implanted in his muscles—little critters, too small to see or feel, that twitched Bud's muscle fibers electrically according to a program that was supposed to maximize bulk. Combined with the testosterone pump embedded in his forearm, it was like working out in a gym night and day, except you didn't have to actually do anything and you never got sweaty. The only drawback was that all the little twitches made him kind of tense and jerky. He'd gotten used to it, but it still made him a little hinky on those skates, especially when he was doing a hundred clicks an hour through a crowded street. But few people hassled Bud, even when he knocked them down in the street, and after today no one would hassle him ever again.

Bud had walked away, improbably unscratched, from his last job—with something like a thousand yuks in his pocket. He'd spent a third of it on new clothes, mostly black leather, another third of it on the blades, and was about to spend the last third at the mod parlor. You could get skull guns a lot cheaper, of course, but that would mean going over the Causeway to Shanghai and getting a back-alley job from some Coaster, and probably a nice bone infection in with the bargain, and he'd probably pick your pocket while he had you theezed. Besides, you could only get into a Shanghai if you were virgin. To cross the Causeway when you were already packing a skull gun, like Bud, you had to bribe the shit out of numerous Shanghai cops. There was no reason to economize here. Bud had a rich and boundless career ahead of him, vaulting up a hierarchy of extremely dangerous drug-related occupations for which he served as a paid audition of sorts. A start weapons system was a wise investment.

The damn bells kept ringing through the fog. Bud mumbled a command to his music system, a phased acoustical array splayed across both eardrums like the seeds on a strawberry. The volume went up but couldn't scour away the deep tones of the carillon, which resonated in his long bones. He wondered whether, as long as he was at the mod parlor, he should have the batteries drilled out of his right mastoid and replaced. Supposedly they were ten-year jobs, but he'd had them for six and he listened to music all the time, loud.

Three people were waiting. Bud took a seat and skimmed a mediatron from the coffee table; it looked exactly like a dirty, wrinkled, blank sheet of paper. " 'Annals of Self-Protection,' " he said, loud enough for everyone else in the place to hear him. The logo of his favorite meedfeed coalesced on the page. Mediaglyphics, mostly the cool animated ones, arranged themselves in a grid. Bud scanned through them until he found the one that denoted a comparison of a bunch of different stuff, and snapped at it with his fingernail. New mediaglyphics appeared, surrounding larger cine panes in which Annals staff tested several models of skull guns against live and dead targets. Bud frisbeed the mediatron back onto the table; this was the same review he'd been poring over for the last day, they hadn't updated it, his decision was still valid.

One of the guys ahead of him got a tattoo, which took about ten seconds. The other guy just wanted his skull gun reloaded, which didn't take much longer. The girl wanted a few 'sites replaced in her racting grid, mostly around her eyes, where she was starting to wrinkle up. That took a while, so Bud picked up the mediatron again and went in a ractive, his favorite, called Shut Up or Die!

The mod artist wanted to see Bud's yuks before he installed the gun, which in other surroundings might have been construed as an insult but was standard business practice here in the Leased Territories. When he was satisfied that this wasn't a stick-up, he theezed Bud's forehead with a spray gun, scalped back a flap of skin, and pushed a machine, mounted on a delicate robot arm like a dental tool, over Bud's forehead. The arm homed in automatically on the old gun, moving with alarming speed and determination. Bud, who was a little jumpy at the best of times because of his muscle stimulators, flinched a little. But the robot arm was a hundred times faster than he was and plucked out the old gun unerringly. The proprietor was watching all of this on a screen and had nothing to do except narrate: The hole in your skull's kind of rough, so the machine is reaming it out to a larger bore—okay, now here comes the new gun.

A nasty popping sensation radiated through Bud's skull when the robot arm snapped in the new model. It reminded Bud of the days of his youth, when, from time to time, one of his playmates would shoot him in the head with a BB gun. He instantly developed a low headache.

"It's loaded with a hundred rounds of popcorn," the proprietor said, "so you can test out the yuvree. Soon as you're comfortable with it, I'll load it for real." He stapled the skin of Bud's forehead back together so it'd heal invisibly. You could pay the guy extra to leave a scar there on purpose, so everyone would know you were packing, but Bud had heard that some chicks didn't like it. Bud's relationship with the female sex was governed by a gallimaufry of primal impulses, dim suppositions, deranged theories, overheard scraps of conversation, half-remembered pieces of bad advice, and fragments of no-doubt exaggerated anecdotes that amounted to rank superstition. In this case, it dictated that he should not request the scar.

Besides, he had a nice collection of Sights—not very tasteful sunglasses with crosshairs hudded into the lens on your dominant eye. They did wonders for marksmanship, and they were real obvious too, so that everyone knew you didn't fuck with a man wearing Sights.

"Give it a whirl," the guy said, and spun the chair around—it was a big old antique barber chair upholstered in swirly plastic—so Bud was facing a mannikin in the corner of the room. The mannikin had no face or hair and was speckled with little burn marks, as was the wall behind it.

"Status," Bud said, and felt the gun buzz lightly in response.

"Stand by," he said, and got another answering buzz. He turned his face squarely toward the mannikin.

"Hut," he said. He said it under his breath, through unmoving lips, but the gun heard it; he felt a slight recoil tapping his head back, and a startling POP sounded from the mannikin, accompanied by a flash of light on the wall up above its head. Bud's headache deepened, but he didn't care.

"This thing runs faster ammo, so you'll have to get used to aiming a tad lower," said the guy. So Bud tried it again and this time popped the mannikin right in the neck.

"Great shot! That would have decapped him if you were using Hellfire," the guy said. "Looks to me like you know what you're doing—but there's other options too. And three magazines so you can run multiple ammos. "

"I know," Bud said, "I been checking this thing out." Then, to the gun, "Disperse ten, medium pattern." Then he said "hut" again. His head snapped back much harder, and ten POPs went off at once, all over the mannikin's body and the wall behind it. The room was getting smoky now, starting to smell like burned plastic.

"You can disperse up to a hundred," the guy said, "but the recoil'd probably break your neck."

"I think I got it down," Bud said, "so load me up. First magazine with electrostun rounds. Second magazine with Cripplers. Third with Hellfires. And get me some fucking aspirin."

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1477 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 514 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin; Édition : New Ed (27 août 1998)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002RI9DQ0
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°22.734 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Nanomonde 12 novembre 2015
Par Hector
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Une Terre futuriste où les nanotechnologies sont omniprésentes. Assez effrayant car très cohérent et, tout compte fait, pas improbable. Très bien écrit, en plus.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  595 commentaires
370 internautes sur 399 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Beyond visionary, although a difficult read. 25 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson was one of the most insightful an original books I've read in a long time. After a brief absence from the world of science fiction, I picked this book up, almost entirely because of my love for his earlier novel, Snow Crash. In Snow Crash, Stephenson gave us a view of a future not all that far away. The technology of the Diamond Age takes us into the very distant future.
On the Earth of the Diamond Age, mankind has developed and perfected the concept of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is based around the concept of using microscopic computers to allow people to literally make anything possible. Often times, the tricky part of designing an object is making it heavier than air so it won't float away. Matter compilers can create any object with the proper program, and a pair of wooden chopsticks has flashing advertisements running up and down their sides. As backlash to this technological heaven, the elite members of society borrow their culture from the British during the Victorian era. These Victorians -or Vicky's, as some derogatorily refer to them- place value in items that are hand made, and pay exorbitant amounts of money for such items.
This novel varies from many typical science fiction novels, in that its focus is not on the technology or the rich, but rather on a single girl from a dysfunctional family in one of the poorest parts of the world. Nell, comes across one of three copies of the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, a book of sorts intended to educate a young girl. This book, while itself not a technological marvel, displays a true ingenuity in its content, as any good book. Through the use of this book, Nell is taught the lessons that one misses in school, the lessons that truly allow one to become successful in life. Through the characters and the primer, the reader gets many insights on what makes a person special.
Reading through other people's reviews of this novel, I see that I am not unanimously supported in my opinion of this novel. Many people cited its length and lengthy description as the book's downfalls. I can understand these comments, although in all honesty, to eliminate the details would eliminate any science fiction this book had and reduce it to merely a trashy sci-fi pulp novel. Clearly, Stephensons' goal is to accomplish far more than a simple adventure. In my eyes at least, the best of science fiction is to envision brave new worlds and use the different setting to critique our own society. Those who want a book they don't have to think about, will not enjoy this book. For them, there are summer movies and Dean Koontz.
One person felt the characters were dull and two-dimensional, which I found to be an entirely bogus comment. Each character is full of his or her own quirks and agendas. From the exceptionally rich Victorian technology tycoon to the Neil's thug-like yet compassionate older brother, the characters all manage to be completely original and completely realistic. Most importantly, each character inspires a bit of emotion in the reader. One is disgusted with Neil's mother and sympathetic for Nell. So, while some readers found the characters to be a fault, I found them to help draw the readers into the novel and provide the reader a familiar point so they don't get lost in the futuristic world. After all, unlike technology and trends, people for the most part do not change.
In his first novel, Snow Crash, Stephenson proved that he is perfectly capable of crafting an exciting adventure story. However, Snow Crash had nowhere near the insight or vision that he achieves in the Diamond Age. In the Diamond Age, Stephenson holds nothing back, and refuses to dumb down his book to make it an easy read. It is definitely difficult for anyone not into pure science fiction. However, anyone who makes it through the book, will find an entirely elaborate world and many insights to our own world, ranging from critiques of modern education to the depressing lack of subversiveness in our culture. Those that enjoy the true science fiction genre, will find this book to be nothing short of brilliant.
148 internautes sur 162 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the Finest Books of Science Fiction I've Ever Read 24 janvier 2000
Par Use it EVERY Day (with kids, too)... - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
For months now I have been slogging through volumes of mediocre science fiction/fantasy, watching and waiting for that one, elusive, world class work. This is it. While the plot revealed itself slowly through the first half of this book, it remained engaging, and by the time I roared to the finish I was actively grieving the completion of the "read". "More! More!", I was screaming. This incredibly entertaining, future view of the world with competing phyles and nanotech warriors so abundent that they swirl through the air like pollen has placed this book near the very top of my all-time best books list. And for all the techno-babble and cyber-backdrop, what most carried the book forward was that Stephenson brilliantly developed the main characters. I really cared what happened to Nell, Miranda, Hackworth, etc. Their victories were my victories, their failures saddened me. Take "Snow Crash" and give it more depth, refinement, meaning, and maturity. Then you'll have this satisfying book in your hands. Tim Powers, move over, Neal Stephenson has just become my favorite author!
92 internautes sur 100 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good book, but some flaws 14 janvier 2001
Par Chad Cloman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I've just finished reading the previous 178 reviews, and have to agree with the main themes:
1) The ending is abrupt and leaves major storylines unresolved.
2) The book is not light reading. It reminds me of the old Far Side cartoons which were hilarious to some but incomprehensible to others.
3) The peek at a possible future is excellent, especially the use of nanotechnology.
Most of the reviews speak of the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" as a book that teaches a girl how to survive on the streets and to be an independent thinker. What they don't mention, and what I think is vital, is that one of the main themes in the design of the book was "subversion". The book was meant to guide a young girl on her path to becoming a free-thinking and subversive woman. Such a person would inevitably become a force, either positive or negative, in the book's rigid society.
Having read 3 of Mr. Stephenson's books (Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, and Diamond Age), I must agree that each one has a somewhat abrupt ending -- although Diamond Age seems to be the worst. In general, Mr. Stephenson tends to leave storylines open and let the reader's imagination take over. While this is a valid literary style, it quickly gets annoying.
While Diamond Age may not have been a straight cyberpunk novel, the environment is certainly similar to what you see in William Gibson's Neuromancer. In essence, future society has broken down into "tribes" with a significant barrier dividing the upper and lower classes. The story contains quite a bit of the Oriental class (caste?) system that you see in cyberpunk, and it also adds a Victorian class system that isn't much different.
I noticed that a significant number of reviewers were upset because Diamond Age wasn't as "good" as Snow Crash. I agree. This book is NOT another Snow Crash, nor is it a Cryptonomicon, and I enjoyed both of those books more than I enjoyed this one. That is not, however, a reason to give the book a bad review.
In general, I enjoyed this book but did not keep it after I finished reading it.
51 internautes sur 56 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Starts with a Bang, Ends with a Whimper 12 juillet 2002
Par Carrie Harris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I picked up "The Diamond Age" with a glee so intense that it borders on embarassing. Like most of the other reviewers, I loved "Snow Crash." I assumed... no, I HOPED that I'd love "The Diamond Age" as much, but unfortunately that didn't happen. It started off promising, with an interesting concept, likable characters, and that unparalleled Stephenson sense of style. But those qualities didn't gel into a cohesive story for me, and I have to admit that it was disappointing.
The story itself is intriguing. The main focus is on Nell, a little girl in possession of an interactive Primer that not only teaches her but also nurtures her in the absence of parents or loved ones. But really, it's an ensemble tale (it's no accident that a reviewer compares Stephenson to Quentin Tarantino, who creates incredibly complex ensemble films). It's also about Miranda, who provides the nurturing quality in the Primer. It's about Elizabeth, who has a Primer of her own. It's about Harv, Nell's brother. It's about the society they live in. Ultimately, this is where the book falls short of the high standards set in "Snow Crash."
After all, "Snow Crash" has a similar format, a number of subplots all converging in the end to reach a final, stunning (perhaps too stunning) conclusion. What's the difference between them? I cared about all of the subplots in "Snow Crash" and all of the characters in them. I was as wrapped up in them as I was in Hiro Protagonist, the focal point of the book. I didn't feel the same way with "Diamond Age." I cared about Nell, yes, but the other characters were secondary to her. I really didn't care about what happened to them. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time learning about them; they're central to the plot. They end up acting as plot devices to get the story where it needs to be rather than fully developed characters that we can sink our teeth into.
Do I recommend that you read this book? I can't say that I hated it. I was interested enough to get to the end, but I finished the last page with a feeling of disappointment. The best thing it did for me is made me understand why "Snow Crash" is so terrific. If you're a Stephenson fan, I'd say go for it. If you've never read him before, start with "Snow Crash."
18 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Would get 4 stars if the ending wasn't such a wreck 20 juillet 2008
Par Matthew Farrell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I'd read Snow Crash about a year ago, and despite some problems with pacing and blatant Deux Ex Machina, I liked it enough to give Stephenson another go.

I gather Diamond Age is his second novel, and he certainly has improved in style over his original offering (Snow Crash.) This book consciously imitates Victorian (late 18th-century English) prose and dialogue, which can be awkward to the unsuspecting but is very much justified by the narrative framework.

The setting was intriguing, and quite-likely cutting-edge for when it was written. Nanotechnology plays a major role, and Stephenson does a good job of running with it to show the logical conclusions: a superficial utopia that is quite dark once one delves beneath the surface. To his credit, the technology isn't heavy-handed in this, and anyone with even the most basic scientific knowledge can follow (and appreciate) what's going on. I also have a soft-spot for Chinese history and culture, so he gets a few bonus points for including it as a setting subplot. Speaking of subplots, Diamond Age includes one that at first struck me as suspiciously similar to one of the subplots of Mona Lisa Overdrive (ie: an interactive book that helps a young girl cope with her surroundings) but I quickly found the similarities were superficial and Stephenson does go into new territory with his handling of it.

That said...

The last 75 pages of this book were a jumbled mess, with key plot points being introduced way too late, others (from earlier) completely forgotten, and overall left me with a feeling of "where the heck did THAT come from?!?" It honestly struck me as if 400 pages into it, he got tired of writing it and just wound things down as quickly as he could. Ironically, there's a fair amount of padding in that last section (notably a too-long sequence of a character at an interactive theatre.) Most of my complaints about the book come from the last 75 pages, but alas, I can't give specifics without breaking my personal reviewing oath of not divulging spoilers. Suffice to say that he again resorts to intervention from the Gods of Plot Convenience **a couple of times** in ways that are as unconvincing as they are unsatisfying.

That said, if you liked Snow Crash (or presumably any of his other works) you will probably like Diamond Age. It **is** necessary to keep your expectations in check, though. On a personal level, one of the aspects I really liked about Snow Crash was the wry narrative tone woven throughout, and that was very-much lacking throughout Diamond Age (I think I cracked a smile twice.) By all means, give it a go, but beware: the ending isn't so much a "let down" as a "plummet from 75 stories up."
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