The Diamond Age
“The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer” is a masterful work of science fiction in which author Neal Stephenson finds new ways to express many of the classic science fiction themes we have learned about throughout our class. A few of the many themes covered in this novel include the responsibility a creator has to his or her creation, including a parent’s responsibility to properly raise and nurture their child to help them find their place in society, as well as how future technologies, such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, will impact our lives and our society. Although the story at first appears to be a more traditional cyberpunk tale, going so far as to include a Johnny Mnemonic-type character with a weapon hardwired to his brain and an occupation locating and transferring sensitive data, it soon reveals a much more complicated environment and plot. The harsh and exacting means by which this character exits the story is a hint by the author that this is more than just the usual cyberpunk tale, although it certainly seems to build on the type of setting popularized by William Gibson. This cyberpunk theme is taken to a new level through the existence of The Feed. The Feed is not simply an information network, but a network which supplies raw materials to matter compliers which can create virtually anything at an atomic level, so of course, control and access to The Feed are contested by the different factions that exist in this future, although they all must abide by the widely distributed and strictly enforced Common Economic Protocol. There is a noticeable Dickensian feel, although it is heavily influenced by cyberpunk, in the way the author organizes the cultures of this future society, including a main character named Nell, patterned after Charles Dickens character from “The Old Curiosity Shop”. As in that novel, the main character Nell is a young girl who is attempting to find ways to...
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