The new Slashdot interview with Neal Stephenson is an unexpected treat. Not only are the questions great, but Stephenson’s responses are witty and somewhat more profound (and much longer, as he had time to compose answers to some of the more difficult questions). As Nate points out, one of the more enlightening answers deals with the much rumored feud between Stephenson and William Gibson:

I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson’s Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson’s arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

Heh. Stephenson apparently fought Gibson two times after that, and the interview is worth reading just because of that answer… but the whole thing is worth reading, especially his answer regarding why genre and popular writers don’t get the literary respect they deserve (or don’t, depending on your point of view). [Thanks again to Nate for pointing this out to me, who, in my work induced haze, had missed it entirely]

Update: Just for fun, I checked out Stephenson’s homepage and found this picture of the entire Baroque Cycle manuscript:


Again Update: Holy Crap! Stephenson t-shirts? And they look cool too! Why was I not informed? Damn you monkey research squad!

2 thoughts on “/.Stephenson”

  1. Comments are working again indeed!

    I love that picture of the Baroque Cycle manuscript. That’s mindblowing that Stephenson wrote the entire thing by hand, particularly since the three books came out relatively quickly.

    As far as endings go…I’ve never had too much of a problem with his…they can be a little vague, or even odd, but they’re a logical conclusion of the book.

    I read a review that said that the last chapter or two of System of the World spolied the entire series. No spoilers here; I won’t relate why the reviewer felt this way. I just thought that was silly.

    If you read Slashdot (and really, most reviewers) at all, it’s become very hip to badmouth Stephenson’s endings, and indeed the entire Baroque Cycle. It seems to me that this ties into the blog entry on reviewers reviewing the work they wish they had seen/read.

    Of course, there are very legitimate criticisms of the Baroque Cycle…but most of these seem to be ignored in favor of: “It’s long.” and “Go back to Sci-Fi!” and “Cryptonomicon rules!”.

    Of course, that’s the danger of seeking intelligent discourse on Slashdot. There certainly is some to be found; I have learned some good things there. But often it’s deeply buried inside reams of nonsense. That pertains to Slashdot, anyway, but hardly to other critics. It’s more than a little annoying to read a review of Baroque Cycle that endlessly compares it to Cryptonomicon, and how Cryptonomicon was so much better. Now, that was inevitable to some degree, since the Baroque Cycle is related to Cryptonomicon, but that relation aside…it’s a very different work.

    Ok, I’ll step down off of my soapbox now. I don’t know why I bother reading those reviews anyway =)


    Cryptonomicon rules!!!(heh)

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