Objectively shitty novelist. His books are about 7-8 times longer than they have to be and full of useless information that somehow is connected to the plot but is utterly extraneous otherwise. His characters are flat and often little more than archetypes. There is little narrative flow or tension. It's a lot like Planescape Torment, actually -- dumping the reader with about 900 pages in the hopes they'll confuse density for depth. But once you shovel away the endless mounds of Wikipedia text dumps, what you have left really isn't very good. Snow Crash was almost okay if we took it as an intentional parody of cyberpunk, but then he fucking infodumps the reader with a bunch of bullshit about ancient Sumeria that doesn't mean anything or further the plot. And that's him at his most restrained -- when he became popular with about 40,000 neckbeards he pretty much disappeared into his own asshole, and now every goddamn book of his is a million pages of beemban (beemban: noun, predating the age of Shitquarius, meaning qoakhie, which in turn means tsetsetsetow'd after carrying the two if we use non-Faulknerian math THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF STUPID BULLSHIT ALL HIS BOOKS FUCKING DO AND YES YOUR TASTE IS SUSPECT IF YOU LIKE THIS LITERARY TRAIN WRECK AND HIS STUPID BEARD
I'M GOING TO FUCKING BED
Since things like enjoyment of literature and quality of literature have yet to be shown to have defined properties which determine their objective value by any kind of empirical or falsifiable way, then you claiming that my taste is faulty for liking an author you call bad has all of the value of you telling me that homoeopathy works for everyone because it worked for you. If you have some kind of way of showing beyond doubt that your opinion = truth, then offer up, or just let people enjoy their literature the way they enjoy it. Unless you have some deep-seated need to berate people for their reading preferences of course, but that's entirely your issue if so.
I fucking enjoyed both Snow Crash and The Diamond Age and your personal list of gripes (every non-perfect work (so all works then, eye of beholder withstanding) contains flaws which can be turned into a tick-list by anyone, don't go thinking you have applied any nuanced critique here) does nothing to change that. Not sure I even know what he looks like, so fuck his beard. Also, the ancient Sumerian stuff tied in with neuroscience of language was a pretty decent layer of narrative, despite being a bit gappy. I guess that's why it's called science fiction.
dethtoll, I happen to agree with this particular axe you're grinding and yet, well, you're still axe grinding. I doubt there's anyone on this board unfamiliar with your opinion on Stephenson's writing, so why not give it a rest? Surely you have better things to do with your time than chase down each mention of Stephenson on this forum and stamp them with a regurgitation of your opinion.
Without the urge to disturb you, there's another update video on the kickstarter page.
Sometimes I feel we got tricked, duped, with that internet and all. Back in the day, we were promised the information super-highway, connecting people from distant lands in a matter of seconds, and all the grotesque and obscure pornography you could ever yearn for. But the more I read the internet, the more it seems a ruse, a clever mechanism that feeds on us. On our anger.
We all know that, according to the fifth fundamental law of thermodynamics, when on the Internet, opinion IS fact. Always objective, always indisputable. It is thus unfortunate when people of two varying beliefs meet. In real life, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so the two can shake hands, agree to disagree, and maybe go get a burger at McDonalds together (or In N Out for those in California and Arizona). But on the internet, no such possibility exists.
On the contrary - the Internet, the great provider of entertainment and information, forces us into state of mutual aggression, constantly jumping each others' throats, shit-posting, insulting, screaming in ALL CAPS or questioning the other's sexual preferences. And the Internet greedily feeds on this, its gluttonous databases over-saturating with the exponentially multiplying blog comments, sprawling into indented trees of hate and bile. Thus the Internet grows, ever so larger, ever more powerful.
To what end? That is unclear. But I suppose we wont need to wait long; the world ends this year, after all. And it won't be some meteor, ancient curse, global warming or even our trigger-happy nuclear-weapons-armed countries. It will be The Unquenchable Internet.
Okay yes I was but it wasn't really meant to be mean-spirited.
But you're pretty fantastically missing my point here. It's not that Stephenson's works are imperfect, it's that his works are bad. No writer is perfect -- I love William Gibson's novels, every last one of 'em, but I recognize that his 80s stuff can get a little dodgy. But "a little dodgy" is a far cry from "each book gets longer and longer and the ratio of useless info : actual plot gets higher and higher."
Let's go with the ancient Sumerian stuff, just as an example: It's something to do with the neuroscience of language, okay, but why does that matter? It doesn't. It has no bearing on the plot, and the whole "Sumerian is the programming language of the human brainstem" could have been reduced to maybe 10 sentences, 9 if you toss the completely throwaway JESUS WASN'T REAL line that got thrown in because Stephenson is a stereotypical goonberterian. But Stephenson thought editors were for pussies, and now I've read through a couple dozen pages of this stuff and I've forgotten what the fuck the main character was supposed to do or why he -- or I -- should care. Then I realize that he's had no real motivation anyway, unless you count jamming it in the valley girl. The infodumps are totally disruptive to the narrative and he keeps fucking doing it to a greater and greater degree in all his books. Cryptonomicon was excruciating. Anathem is unreadable. So no, this isn't science fiction. This is pretentious pseudo-post-modernist bullshit.
What if everything you say is valid, but still didn't affect my enjoyment of the book? I'm left with the choice of:
"I have bad taste", which due to such things not really having any effect on anyone other than myself, isn't much of an issue. I enjoyed a book, that's a net gain for me.
Other aspects of the book make up for these flaws. As I said, take any book / song / movie / whatever which is cherished by anyone and it is possible to build a list of things to criticise about it. However, if you ENJOY the piece of work for whatever reason, then the flaws become attenuated by the fact that on balance it gave you pleasure.
Why the Sumerian stuff? My guess is it was shoe-horned in as Stephenson read about something he thought was cool and thought it make make for a nice cyberpunk concept if tied into the idea of transmissible informational viruses for the mind. I like the concept, but then I've studied a fair amount of neuroscience at degree level, so it lit up my interest centres a bit more than most I guess. I'm not sure that you telling me things you don't like about an author are going to make me read through, see if I agree and then modify my memories of having enjoyed the book. I'm sure there is plenty you enjoy which I could tear to shreds if I were so inclined, there might even be stuff you love which can easily be smacked down for gaping flaws, but it isn't bad taste which allows you to enjoy them, it is a bunch of other confounding factors which are largely ineffable and summate to give certain things a "character" which you gel with. Saying x, y, z = bad, therefore X = bad is ignoring too much of the complexity involved in human interaction with literature. You don't have my perspective on e.g. Snow Crash and thus are unable to see how it could be enjoyed, so you transfer the flaw to me in order to balance the equation in your head. Or something. I don't know, I'm hung over something fierce.
Go back to bed and quit being so butthurt that I'm slaughtering a geek sacred cow.
I'll give you butthurt.
Not sure why the "sacred cow" tripe gets wheeled out in these things. It's ONE BOOK. I enjoyed it. I don't really need the approval of people on the internet as backup for why I enjoyed it. I'm not butthurt, as you put it, just bemused that you are, as someone mentioned practically scouting the airwaves for anyone who enjoyed something you dislike so you can call them up on it and then presumably bro fist the nearest mirror and feel like you and you alone are somehow defending humanity against the gradual creep of bad ideas being propagated like some hypothetical mind virus by regurgitating a tick list, redundantly repeating why YOU don't think something is good and presumably not being able to see that this doesn't mean it is unenjoyable by anyone except for such reasons as it being a "sacred cow", assuming that I like it because I get some kind of geek cred for doing so.
You're entertaining, intelligent and have a point 99% of the time, but this "X = crap because of Y, so anyone who likes it is wrong because I have unilaterally defined the parameters of universal quality and taste" thing is like Koki and his list of reasons why Fallout 3 is awful and anyone who likes it is psychologically damaged. Taste varies, live with it.
I reiterate. I'm also done with this discussion because you've pretty much moved next to an airport and the noise is too loud for you to hear me explain yet again.
What you said didn't go over my head. What you say is simply not related to objective taste, because defining objective taste is not possible, since taste / quality are not definitive. In your mind, I have poor taste for liking Snow Crash, in Koki's mind, you have poor taste for liking Fallout 3. The pointlessness of trying to argue FOR either perspective is staggering. Also, note that I am not saying "Neal Stephenson is a great author" as I have only read two of his books. I loved those books, have read nothing else. I am just saying that the idea that Snow Crash and The Diamond Age are bad books because on balance, his work has gotten worse over time is silly. I don't get a lot of time to read for leisure and I try not to read any one author exhaustively, but Cryptonomicon being poor doesn't have any bearing on the two books I've read.
I can't believe you're still going on about this. So I bashed Neal Stephenson and jumped on your blatant attempt at martyrdom. Get over it. Relax. It's not the end of the world and you're not Tomi, horrified at my trashing Mafia and simply unable to drop the fucking issue.
Agreed. I'm essentially letting work stress drive me to let off steam where it's probably not wholly warranted.
Seeing this Project just reminded me that I've been wanting to read Snow Crash, but now I am not sure if I still should. Damn you, internet!
Dude, just because dethtoll didn't like it doesn't mean anything. The guy doesn't like Amnesia and Dear Esther either so his taste is a bit suspect to say the least.
More like most people wouldn't know a good game if it bit them on the end of their tiny dicks. But that's hardly my problem is it?
Without focussing on any one person in particular, if you're going to decide not to read / buy / watch / etc something because of opinions on the internet, then you're not going to find much out there to go with. Read the cliff notes, decide if it is something you might like and then give it a spin. You can get it for pennies on Amazon if you buy it second hand. Enough people liked it that the law of averages says there's a chance you will. If you don't then it's not like your life will be ruined. I don't think there's a Venn diagram in existence which plots the opinions of everyone and leaves any singular piece of work looking flawless.
I read part of Snow Crash way back when, and the most notable part of it for me was not being able to tell whether its depiction of cyberpunk was trying to be serious or satirical, because it seemed right on the fence. Something about the mafia delivering pizza. I was always more of a fan of Gibson, even though the guy had probably the densest and least comprehensible writing style I've seen from any sci-fi author.