Subterranean Stephenson

Interesting article about geeky dads who worry that their kids won’t become geeks, too, and how they try to instill a sort of geeky work ethic in their kids.

Science fiction author Neal Stephenson once told me something memorable as we were hanging out in his back yard. He pointed to an unfinished kayak under a tarp. He said he was slowly working on it, in part to mentor his kids, even though they did no work on the boat, nor express the least bit of interest in this project. None-the-less he continued puttering on the undertaking while they were home. Stephenson said when he was a kid, his dad was constantly tinkering on some garage project or another, and despite Neal’s complete indifference for any of his dad’s enthusiasms at the time, he was influenced by this embedded tinkering. It was part of the family scene, part of his household, like mealtime style, or the pattern of interactions between siblings. Later on when Neal did attempt to make stuff on his own, the pattern was right at hand. It felt comfortable, easy. Without having to try very hard, he knew how to be a nerd.

Interesting stuff. And speaking of Stephenson, Warren Ellis apparently finished the Baroque Cycle lately:

I have just finished reading The Baroque Cycle of Neal Stephenson, and feel like giving up writing entirely.

I guess he liked it? Further thoughts on his blog:

I finally got to finish reading the last of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. I’d never normally recommend you read a 3000-page work, but the Cycle is just a towering piece of work, and I think you should read it before you die. A hundred pages from the end, I got that terrible longing sadness, the one that comes when you realise you’re near the end of something and you’ĺl never have the joy of reading this in the same way again.

I’ve had that feeling before. I definitely had it while reading the Baroque Cycle, but that was more just because I’d been reading the thing for 2 years. And it had one of Stephenson’s better endings, I think. I had the same feeling while reading Cryptonomicon, except I had it more like three or four hundred pages from the end. Heh. [Warren Ellis links via No Mod Required]

Update: Shamus joins in the discussion Alex and I had about Cryptonomicion.