Diamond Age: or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer
The coming of age story of a poor girl in future in which nanotechnology has revolutionized the way we live. The protagonist, Nell, is a poor girl who accidentally receives a complex toy / educational tool (a sort of interactive book) which gives her insight into a world her class would normally exclude her from. The book follows both her interactions with the book, and its effects on her life. In a parallel plot, it tracks the downfall of the book’s creator for, essentially, failing to keep the knowledge and gifts associated with the book out of the hands of average people.
It’s a book about class and race in a future, and because its Neal Stephenson, its plot is complex and absorbing and its ideas fascinating and challenging. Without a doubt better than most science fiction, but not my favorite of his works. In my mind, Stephenson is at his best when he’s getting deep inside the ways technology, real or imagined, effects our world. I didn’t feel like this one has as much of that as some of his other, better, books (Crytonomicon, or Seveneves, for example). Still if imagination science fiction done by a master of the genre is your thing (and why wouldn’t it be?) this is world your time.
Recommended for the enthusiast.