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Neal Stephenson’s Writing [You Can Quote Me On That/Bookmark This]
December 13th, 2008 by Dan

Here’s an interesting analysis of most of Stephenson’s writing by Matthew Bey of the Austin Statesman:

But even as Erasmas and company pursue the answers to their cerebral quandaries, violence and chaos aren’t far behind. As intimidating an intellectual artifact as “Anathem” is, it’s still an action story. Stephenson takes just enough time to establish his setting before blowing it apart. Like the Unix machines he has praised, his novels are a system of logical mechanisms that run flawlessly until they hit extraordinary conditions. They never quite come to a clean ending, but tapering to a close was never the point. A Stephenson novel doesn’t wrap up so much as it crashes, one process at a time.

I think he’s so right about this aspect of Stephenson prose. Many people complain about his endings since they’re not quite as conclusive as they’d like, not to mention the predictable style of most of his work, where there is a dramatic “crash” of events that drastically changes the status quo, and I think this might be as good an explanation as we could get. For a UNIX programmer to become a novelist, one would imagine that he would have certain thinking processes in place that would shape his work. I can honestly say that I’ve never had too much of a problem with his style, maybe because I get it in the same way? In any case, I thought it was cool and relevant since I reviewed Anathem just a few days ago to post this.


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