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Dystopian Monthly – The Diamond Age Review

01 Jun
My copy's cover vs. the new edition

My copy’s cover vs. the new edition

Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

Over the past few years Neal Stephenson has become one of my favorite authors. His Baroque Cycle Series is pure genius and Anathem and Cryptonomicon are exceptional. Stephenson’s works are difficult to describe or place into any one genre as they borrow from so many different literary elements and do not cleanly rest within any category.

The Diamond Age is no different. Although at first it may come across as a simple futuristic science fiction story set within a stumbling world of sub-cultures, it is actually much more complex. The main character Nell is a poor young girl who has little going for her but a very protective older brother who one day brings her a book he has stolen. But this is not just any book, it was meant as an illustrated primer for one of the wealthiest girl’s in the world.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 10.41.44 PMThe book is supremely special and meant to raise a girl to be an exceptional creature of strength, daring and grace. From the moment the book falls into little Nell’s hands, it initiates a series of events that cannot be predicted and eventually changes this strange world forever.

In a chaotic world ruled by various tribes, nanotechnology has advanced to the point that certain things seem on the verge of magical. The tale itself merges science fiction, fantasy, and even a dark fairy tale. Relying heavily upon Confucian Chinese, Victorian English, and Rebellious American background and culture it manages to skillfully weave these elements together over three continents and several decades.

This story, like all of Stephenson’s, is unpredictable. There are several places in the story where the reader will likely have to go back and reread portions after they say, “Did that really just happen?” It did. Although I have grown used to having to read several chapters of Stephenson’s books before the plot really gets going, I always do it knowing the read is well worth it. The Diamond Age is different. From the very start the story pulls the reader into a strange and dark world where it seems anything is possible.

Alternate Cover Art

Alternate Cover Art

The Diamond Age is filled with subtle yet rich humor, complex plots and descriptions, and imaginative characters. I give it a strong recommendation and would loan you my copy if it wasn’t already in another reader’s hands.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

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