Thanks to Kaedrin for finding this.
Anathem is still on my to-read list. I actually lost my way three-quarters through Quicksilver. It was a great book, but the honest portrayal of the savagery, brutality, and brevity of 16th century life put me off. The book alternated between fascinating me and filling me with revulsion. The need to take the thing in manageable doses slowed my progress, and once I realized I had two more nightstand-crushing tomes waiting for me after Quicksilver I was daunted. I quit with the intention of trying again later when I had more time. That time has yet to materialize. And now he’s produced yet another book. I don’t think it speaks well of my reading habits that Stephenson can write books faster than I can read them.
In the video, he talks about the book and also addresses things like the criticism that his endings are lacking. His response is very interesting because he points to the climactic nature of his finales. I actually never had a problem with that. All of his books have had a sufficiently epic climax, it’s just that it feels sort of abrupt to end the book right after the climax. It’s the equivalent of a man getting up the moment sex is complete and leaving without saying a word. It’s not that his books are unfinished, it’s just that the reader seems to be left with the impression that there was something more to be said. This is probably unfair to Stephenson. It’s more a convention that we’re used to. And there is something ironic about complaining about the length of a book and then taking issue with the concise ending. The cream of his writing takes place in his technical diversions and thought experiments, and there isn’t much room for that sort of thing in the post-finale pillow talk. But I suppose that criticism is the toll charged to those who break with established conventions.
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