Dinner Speaker: Neal Stephenson

by Andriy Pazyuk


Crash course on Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson is one of the leaders in science fiction writing today. He began his science fiction career in 1979 with a novel the Big "U" and continued it with a Eco-thriller Zodiac (1988), cyberpunk classic Snow Crash (1988), Interface (1994) and The Diamond Age (1995) with which he has had great success. The Diamond Age is the winner of the 1996 Hugo Award for Best science Fiction Novel. The latest, Cryptonomicon (1999) is a 900 page novel centered around cryptography.

Neal Town Stephenson is also known under the joint pseudonym Stephen Bury that he shares with his uncle, George Jewsbury. In an interview with Micheal Goldberg, Stephenson says: "I like technology. I like computers. I like science. I just like the ideas that people come up with, the things that people do with their heads. The people I most enjoy talking to are hackers and scientists and people who tinker with stuff. Most of his books are written in the "cyberpunk"genre, characterized with such requisites: the strikingly changed near future with its advanced technology, such as biochip technology in Interface and nanotechnology in Diamond Age.

Looking at the current trend technology development it seems that science "friction" may be science achievement in the near future and that facts raises some ethical questions that always accompany new technologies. Where does the border between man and machine lie? The politically juiced Interface also raises the question of how technology has and could change politics.

The author focuses on the near future. In an interview for Bantam Books devoted to The Diamond Age he predicts that in the next generation we'll start seeing some basic application of nanotechnology, and then it will be widespread in the generation following that".

The participation of a speaker with the individuality of Neal Stephenson at CFP increases the spirit of digital era. It is also a chance to hear some good sound bites from the author. As I know, he is not easily interviewed. Besides he introduced himself as a bad correspondent.* This does not hinder his sense of humor.

* See Why I Am a Bad Correspondent -