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Thread: Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' -- Meaning of Ending?

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    First Lieutenant fair_nymph's Avatar
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    Default Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' -- Meaning of Ending?

    I've been reading alot of sci-fi lately, thanks to my husband who has gotten me interested in the genre.

    I really enjoyed this novel, both the ideas and writing style. I particularly identified with/longed for the modern Victoria life style as it was portrayed. And, I just love Stephenson's heroines/female characters -- they are so strong, intelligent, kick-ass, and complex.

    The end of the book was pretty open-ended, which I realize was intentional, but I was wondering how others interpreted it. Specifically, I am curious about what Nell intends to do -- does she use the seed? Does she go back to Atlantis/resume the style of life, and incorporate the Han girls? What becomes of the seed in general?

    I'm also curious about what the seed itself is. My husband suggested that it's a nanite based technology that is self-contained -- has its own plan/instructions/DNA -- that can mine/extract the elements/materials it needs to grow from its surroundings. This is the best theory I've been able to come up with.

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    Carson’s Wrestling Mat yaaayoubetcha's Avatar
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    Default Re: Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' -- Meaning of Ending?

    I really liked this book, but I found the end pretty weak.

    Not that it was open ended, but because it was open ended with either too much or not enough in the way of character thoughts on where they might proceed. I'm of differing opinions on that depending on the day.

    As for the machine itself, I too think it's some sort of nanobot that pulls in what it needs for its user from its environment. As I recall it was orinially designed for a wealthy family and their kids and to be able to teach/guide them for their lifestyle. However, when it fell to the slums kid, it did a great job of educating/evolving her.

    I think the superior Stephenson book is Snow Crash.
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    First Lieutenant fair_nymph's Avatar
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    Default Re: Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' -- Meaning of Ending?

    I felt the same way about the ending, it was too openended for me. In a way I felt the same way about Snow Crash, which I also loved.

    The Diamond Age appealed more to me emotionally/personally (probably cause of the female lead, and the Vicky's), but Snow Crash appealed more to me intellectually -- I thought it was really brilliant. I can't say which one I prefer, I found them both so different.

    Thanks for the response!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' -- Meaning of Ending?

    Open ended? Yes, I think it is quite purposefully open-ended, as the climax of the book (literally, the fornication-as-solution to the Seed) is the harbinger of a new era, a paradigm shift in technology. As Hackworth discusses with the Confucian, our Western-based technological era, from the Industrial revolution to its climax as nano-technology, has been a narative of increasing centralization, monopolization, and ultra-urban culture... which aside from technocrats and elites, has devalued and humiliated the vast majority of people, peasants and agrarians who for the last 10,000 years or so have otherwise been the cornerstone of culture. The world which Stephenson implies is to come after the story is one which will be fundamentally different from our Era or the reactionary, funhouse-mirror-image society imagined throughout the book, and I think he leaves it open so you can ask Big Questions about the role of technology and social order/organization, and what distributed technology will do to our assumptions about progress and culture.

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