Musashi Mix Inq

The Diamond Age

Posted on June 20, 2011

The Diamond Age, ©MMXI

The Diamond Age, spiritual sequel to Snow Crash, is definitely my favorite book. If Snow Crash was Neil Stephenson‘s prediction of the last 20 years, The Diamond Age takes a look at our future 100 years from now. The title of the book speaks to the world built within it, when mankind has mastered nano-technology and can finally delicately wield the atom.

Hiro Protagonist’s base world of franchise-states and dead-end cyber-life has given way to an extreme return to traditional cultural ties. Enter the Neo-Victorians and Neo-Confucianists of Hong-Kong where the story is set. Nell, the Bildungsroman hero of The Diamond Age, lives in a world of nano-punk with a healthy side of steam:

“Moral reforms and deteriorations are moved by large forces, and they are mostly caused by reactions from the habits of a preceeding period. Backwards and forwards swings the great pendulum, and its alternations are not determined by a few distinguished folk clinging to the end of it.”

Sir Charles Petrie, The Victorians

To me, the most fascinating feature of steampunk is that it is based on a universe of tangible technology. Unlike our current micro-tech, nano-tech computers are a physical manifestation of the gears of change. There are no more programers, only gifted craftsmen. There are no “black-boxes” in The Diamond Age except for the minds of people who live within it.

As the story grows, Nell rises from an orphan of the slums to become princess of a world of her own making. A time when humanity can finally unite in a world of drummers’ dreams.

Neo-Victorian, interrupted

The Princess of Mice

Warrior Nell

Buddha in the sky with Diamonds

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p.s. reading this story first on paper and then on an e-reader is quite the experience. to hold the current-tech “primer” in my hands, knowing that soon the day will come when the future is upon us.

p.p.s. on the other hand, reading snow crash on an e-reader made me fearful to turn the page, like a late victorian scared by an on-coming train in moving-picture show 🙂