Neal Stephenson

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Neal Stephenson

Stephenson at Science Foo Camp 2008
Born October 31, 1959 (1959-10-31) (age 49)
Fort Meade, Maryland
Pen name Stephen Bury
Occupation novelist, short story writer, essayist
Nationality United States
Genres Science fiction, essays
Literary movement Cyberpunk, Postcyberpunk
Official website

Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer, known for his speculative fiction works, which have been variously categorized science fiction, historical fiction, maximalism, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk. Stephenson explores areas such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system.


[edit] Background

Born in Fort Meade, Maryland, Stephenson came from a family comprising engineers and hard scientists he dubs "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering whose father was a physics professor; his mother worked in a biochemistry laboratory, while her father was a biochemistry professor. Stephenson's family moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1960 and then to Ames, Iowa in 1966 where he graduated from Ames High School in 1977. Stephenson furthered his studies at Boston University. He first specialized in physics, then switched to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe. He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.

[edit] Literary works

His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984. The Big U received very little attention when it first came out, and was subsequently out of print until Stephenson allowed it to be reprinted in 2001. After The Big U, Stephenson published the eco-thriller Zodiac before rising to prominence in the early 1990s with the novel Snow Crash (1992), which fuses memetics, computer viruses, and other high-tech themes with Sumerian mythology, along with an analysis of the differences between ideologies such as libertarianism, laissez-faire capitalism, and communism. Averaging one novel every four years, he has written several subsequent novels:

Stephenson has also written non fiction. In The Beginning Was The Command Line, an essay on operating systems and specifically the history of Linux from both a cultural and technical viewpoint was published in book form in 1999. Various other essays have been published in magazines such as Wired.

With the 2003 publication of Quicksilver, Stephenson debuted The Metaweb (main page as partially preserved in the Wayback Machine at 5 April 2006), a wiki (using the same software as Wikipedia) annotating the ideas and historical period explored in the novel. As of April 25, 2007 the site is no longer an active wiki.

[edit] Style

Discussing Anathem at MIT.

The science fiction approach doesn't mean it's always about the future; it's an awareness that this is different.

—Neal Stephenson, September 1999[3]

Stephenson, at least in his earlier novels, deals heavily in pop culture-laden metaphors and imagery, and in quick, hip dialogue, as well as in extended narrative monologues. The tone of his books is generally more irreverent and less self-serious than that of previous cyberpunk novels, notably those of William Gibson.

Stephenson's books tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time. This distinguishes him from other mainstream science fiction authors who tend to focus on a few technological or social changes in isolation from others. The discursive nature of his writing, together with significant plot and character complexity and an abundance of detail suggests a baroque writing style, which Stephenson brought fully to bear in the three-volume Baroque Cycle.[4] His book The Diamond Age follows a simpler plot, but features "neo-Victorian" characters and employs Victorian-era literary conceits. In keeping with the baroque style, Stephenson's books have become longer as he has gained recognition. (At least one printing of Cryptonomicon is well over one thousand pages long and the novel contains various digressions, including a lengthy erotic story about antique furniture and stockings.)

[edit] Bibliography

Stephenson at a book signing in 2004

[edit] Novels

[edit] Short fiction

[edit] Non-fiction

[edit] References

  1. ^ Clooney, Others Develop SCI FI Shows
  2. ^ "Anathem: Neal Stephenson: Books". Retrieved on 2008-08-27. 
  3. ^ Catherine, Asaro (September 1999). "A Conversation With Neal Stephenson". SF Site. Retrieved on 2008-10-06. 
  4. ^ Giuffo, John (October 1, 2004). "Book Capsule Review: The System of the World". Entertainment Weekly.,,701408,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-22. 
  5. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 1994 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  6. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  7. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  8. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  9. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2004 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  10. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2005 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  11. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2009 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 

[edit] External links

NAME Stephenson, Neal
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Stephenson, Neal Town; Bury, Stephen
SHORT DESCRIPTION American science fiction writer
DATE OF BIRTH October 31, 1959
PLACE OF BIRTH Fort Meade, Maryland
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