The Big U

By Shamus Posted Friday Jun 23, 2006

Filed under: Nerd Culture 3 comments

Mark is reading The Big U, Neal Stephenson’s first book. I remember reading an interview where Stephenson downplayed this book. It was out of print for a while, and the buzz generated by his later book Snow Crash had inflated the price of The Big U, which displeased him. It was his first effort, and I guess he wasn’t very happy with it. For that reason I’ve avoided the book.

But now that I’ve read the passages that Mark posted I think I need to check it out. Have a look at some of the PC doublespeak from the book, and keep in mind the thing was written in 1984.

Mark also mentions that he isn’t expecting much in the way of an ending. That sort of goes without saying. Stephenson is a brilliant author, but by fault or by purpose, his endings always feel hurried, confusing, and unfinished.


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3 thoughts on “The Big U

  1. Acksiom says:

    I quite enjoyed it, way back when. But now that you raise the topic, I’d rate the ending as slightly inferior to Snow Crash (spoilernevermind why, basically men’s issue advocacy and activism) but much better than either Cryptonomicon and Diamond Age, which both left me feeling significantly unsastisfied.

    NB: haven’t read his new pseudohistorical trilogy yet, for what that’s worth, while OTOH I do consider his nonfiction book ‘In The Beginning Was The Command Line’ to be a seminal work of historical=>modern analysis.

  2. mark says:

    I haven’t gotten much farther in the book, but I’m quite enjoying it so far… like you noticed, it’s a little surprising that it holds up so well, considering that it was written in 1984.

    As for Stephenson endings, aside from Diamond Age (which was still good despite the ending) and Quicksilver (which was the first in a series), I haven’t really had any problems with his endings. Zodiac and Snow Crash were fine, as was Cryptonomicon (though I guess I could have done without the “Andrew Loeb, jungle warrior” sequence). The endings for The Confusion and The System of the World were both great, I think…

  3. Alex says:

    I have no idea what “The Big U” is about, but I can’t look at your site without singing its potential theme song.

    “Cast in the name of God, ye not-ta guilty! We have come to terms, Big U!”

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