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May. 30th, 2007

Neal Stephenson is so uneven that I'm not sure why his books have such a following. As I've complained about before - his female characters have no reason, depth, purpose, or even basic humanity to them. Makes me wonder about the women in his life or his basic understanding of people in general. Not that his male characters are exactly complex or realistic. But he never makes them into pointless plot devices or pieces of ass who's only real purpose in the story is to make men feel inferior, deflated, happy, satisfied, or something else having to do with the egos and emotions of the male characters.

I mean - I get why geeks like his books. Even though he tramples all over the actual fundamentals (BIOS in "Snow Crash" meant Built-in Operating System for instance - something he recognizes in the acknowledgments, so that's okay)of the geekery, it's still a book all about a hacker and how this hacker literally saves the world. Of course that's going to appeal to coders. And the main hacker is a katana wielding sword slinger. Of course that's going to appeal to geeks in a basic "I want to be like that" kind of hero-worship way.

I just wish it actually had an ending that made any kind of sense. Or that the main female character was actually as much of a person as any of the male characters (even the ancillary random people in the book had more going on than she did). I know the book is goofy, tongue in cheek, silly, half comedy. But when a chick stops in the middle of an "I'm about to get killed" experience to tell the main guy that, really, all he really needs to grab the girl of his dreams is to understand HIMSELF better... I feel like I'm not the intended audience for this book and sort of feel outside of it. Like I'm reading something that's plastered with "boys only" stickers.

It was entertaining. It just could have been a lot better. And I can't tell if Neal Stephenson dislikes women (in a pat-you-on-the-head, patronizing way) or if he just doesn't really *get* them. You know that line from "As Good as it gets"? "How do you write women so well?" - "I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability." That pretty much sums up Neal Stephenson. If he also said "and make sure I mention her ass every 10 pages" it would be dead on.

Comments

maddening
Jun. 1st, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Lewis and Clark Days, pig shit and
Well I was pretty impressed by how he made Sumerian myths, the "Babel" effect, glossolalia, and the basic binary function of coding all make sense together in Snow Crash. And trust me - I'm not interested in at least two of those. heh.

Historical fiction is either *great* and really interesting, or, as the majority of it goes, really really awful. My father used to get all those "what if!" sort of treatments of world war 2 or books where the convenient wild west hero did/started something that completely didn't happen that way. Later I'm fairly certain he got the truth mixed up with the fiction.

Anyway - I'll have to look into those. I went to his site yesterday to poke around. He has maybe one of the worst websites I've ever used. For a geek, he needs to clean up his UI (pop up windows with table formatted text boxes that have scroll bars. It's pretty awful).

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maddening
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