Happy Birthday, Neal Stephenson, born 31 October 1959
- The difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent.
- Once a person has all the things they need to live, everything else is entertainment.
- When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly.
- What’s hard, in hacking as in fiction, is not writing, it’s deciding what to write.
- The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety.
- It is upon moral qualities that a society is ultimately founded. All the prosperity and technological sophistication in the world is of no use without that foundation.
- Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers.
- My niche, to the extent that I’ve got one, seems to be writing about fairly recondite material, but trying to do it in a way that develops into an enjoyable and readable story.
- I was sort of going for broke with Snow Crash. I had tried to write stuff that was more conventional and that would be appealing to a large audience, and it didn’t work. I figured I would just go for broke, write something really weird, and not be so worried about whether it was a good career move or not.
- SF has changed over the span of time I am talking about—from the 1950s (the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer) to now. Speaking broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a generally darker, more sceptical and ambiguous tone.
- Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defence against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.
- The story is everything, so it always begins with a story. Research is a kind of scaffolding built underneath the story as I go along. My enjoyment level varies, but in general, I’m writing about topics I find interesting, so I can’t gripe too much.
Neal Stephenson is an American writer of speculative fiction. He explores subjects such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired. He is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac.
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