Neal Stephenson's next book is a science fiction novel with a fantasy novel stuck inside of it

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I enjoy Mr. Stephenson’s work and I’m looking forward to reading his next novel. But is a “science fiction novel with a fantasy novel stuck inside of it” such a new storyline? I’m not criticizing the reuse of an old idea – reuse, expansion, and conglomeration are part of the artistic process. But haven’t there been countless novels where characters enter a fantasy world that’s sort sort of virtual reality? You don’t even have to look at novels – there are tv shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation" and its “holodecks,” anime like “Sword Art Online,” and so on, and so on.

Again, I’m not criticizing Mr. Stephenson. I can’t wait to read his treatment of this old trope. I’m just wondering why it’s being described as if it weren’t an old trope.


Yeah that sounds interesting. I did like most of his other work but I could never finish the Baroque Cycle and I loved Seven Eves

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It’s only fitting. Anathem was a fiction book with a philosophy text book crammed inside of it.


It’s interesting someone put this concept in a book. Anime (aka Japanese animation) has been doing this for years.


My first thought was that he kind of did that already with The Diamond Age, but that might be a bit of a stretch.



From the description, I think it has more to do with the trope of how we’re building these mythologies and epic fantasies in modern day life, rather than “oh, we’re going into a fantasy holodeck for part of the plot, look there’s elves!”.

We’ll have to read to find out, I suppose.

edit: just read more of the interview. Nah, we’re going to the holodeck. Guess I’ll wait and see if he can pull it off.

Side note, he also talks about the general misinformation with people, and how it spreads throughout the internet. And when we sit here on the internet, or experts sit in professional, skilled, academic forums and discuss how misinformation could possibly spread . . . And it just absolutely astounds me that a lot of these people just don’t realize how stupid a person can be.

Seriously. Some people are as imbecilic as a fucking brick. I met someone who, no shit, thought r/nosleep (a subreddit dedicated to creepypasta stories, where people who interact with and comment on the stories depicted suspend disbelief and act as if it’s true) was true. Just . . . HOW? How is that fucking possible in the 21st century?


Let’s hope this one has an editor willing to say “No” and “Stop”.


Heh. I’m the reverse (well, I did finish ‘Seven Eves’ but in hindsight wouldn’t have bothered).

I’ll wait for the reviews of this one. Much as I loved everything he did up to the Baroque Cycle, I’m really not keen to engage with another underedited brick.

[Edited to clarify: that’s “everything he did up to and including the Baroque Cycle”, which I really liked.]


He told you what he intended to do. Then he did it.

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Mannered intricacy is fine (though not something I’d particularly associate with Neal Stephenson, TBH :wink: ), even repetition whilst exploring a theme, but rambling without an ultimate point isn’t exactly baroque.


I don’t think embedding a fantasy story in a larger sci-fi story is particularly rare. Without giving it much thought, Peter Hamilton’s Void Trilogy comes to mind.


Ohh, I really liked Daniel Waterhouse. The Baroque Cycle, for me, is the story of Daniel and how his life intersected with the complicated lives of Jack and Eliza, and a little bit with the mysterious Root. However, I am SO glad that one of the beings on the spaceship at the end of Anathem was NOT Enoch Root. I was actually concerned that that’s where Stephenson was going. I recently re-read Reamde and DODO and I liked them, too. He can’t keep writing Cryptonomicon. Let’s not be like those Genesis fans who hated Phil Collins for making different music later in his career. With that said, for some reason I haven’t bothered to re-read Seven Eves. Is it time?


Seven Eves was pretty much two only somewhat related novels in one. And I loved that one. Will most likely take this one for a spin too!


Maybe you missed it then. (Says the guy who posted a fucking dictionary entry, yeah, I know).

But I just re-read the BC last month and to me it seemed gloriously pointed.

Ah. We’re talking at cross purposes, and actually agree entirely. :wink:

I went back to my earlier comment to clarify that I liked “everything he did up to and including the Baroque Cycle”, which is a particular favourite. For the first ten novels, Stephenson was my absolute favourite author.
It’s ‘Anathem’ and thereafter (the last five, not counting ‘Fall’) that I thought bloated.

To clarify something else: Stephenson has been shifting genres throughout his career; the problem many cite isn’t really analogous to Genesis/Collins. It’s not what he writes that seems to put people off, it’s the rambling way he does it nowadays.

Re-read it for me. 'Cos I doubt I will. :wink:

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Incidentally, do we all know about The Great Simoleon Caper, the short story Stephenson wrote about Bitcoin (sort of…) in 1995?

That link is to a pdf, avoiding the Time paywall.


I was the exact opposite. Loved the Baroque Cycle.