Activists: you need to read Interface by Neal Stephenson.

I keep forgetting that not everybody who reads me shares my tastes in fiction. I actually just had this brought home to me in another venue, in fact.

So… Interface, by Neal Stephenson & J Frederick George. It was written fifteen years ago, and it predicted about six or seven things about modern politics that are kind of important now*. You really should pick up a copy.


Moe Lane

*Ranging from the increasing manipulation of demographic data to the fishbowl nature of modern politics to how high-definition television is going [to] gut our current crop of politicians.

Again: this book was written in 1994.

Crossposted to RedState.


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  • Skip says:

    Heh, I actually read the other one written by that pair, because I generally like all Neal Stephenson, but I skipped this one because when I read the blurb on the back I said “just another lefty doing a bad parable on the Bush administration”.

    Had I realized the book was written during the Clinton years I probably would have picked it up.

  • Moe_Lane says:

    Stephenson is a digital libertarian, mostly – but although he’s not a conservative he *does* take conservatives seriously. He also does take liberals seriously, which is probably why I liked Zodiac a hell of a lot more than I expected to.

  • Kevin says:

    He’s also managed to lose the attitude toward rednecks that made some parts of Snow Crash downright annoying.

  • Skip says:

    Well part of the problem was that I ran across the book shortly after reading Little Brother, which was getting accolades across the blogosphere, despite being poorly written liberal propaganda. Apart from that I very well might have picked it up anyways. The Diamond Age is the only one of his books I’ve read that I realy haven’t cared for, and the math geek in me just loves Cryptonomicon.

    Oh well, as soon as I finish Drood, I might slot it into the queue.

  • Slartibartfast says:

    I liked The Diamond Age, certainly to some degree because I have two adopted Chinese daughters, and parentless Chinese girls figure somewhat prominently in the plot.

    Still, I liked the story, even if it did drag a bit in places. It has one of my favorite bits of all of his books in it:

    “The subject had experienced a ballistic interlude earlier in the evening,” Miss Pao said, “regrettably not filmed, and relieved himself of excess velocity by means of an ablative technique.”

    Miss Pao was outdoing herself. Judge Fang raised an eyebrow at her, briefly hitting the pause button. Chang, Judge Fang’s other assistant, rotated his enormous, nearly spherical head in the direction of the defendant, who was looking very small as he stood before the court. Chang, in a characteristic gesture, reached up and rubbed the pal of his hand over the short stubble that covered his head, as if he could not believe that he had such a bad haircut. He opened his sleepy, slitlike eyes just a notch, and said to the defendant, “She say you have road rash.”

  • how high-definition television is going gut our current crop of politicians.

    I presume that should be “going to gut” . . . for the benefit of those who need to read the book (which is to say, haven’t read it at this time), what’s their argument on this point?

  • Moe_Lane says:

    “Going to gut,” yes. Thanks. 🙂

    Anyway, their argument is actually very simple: if you don’t look good on a high-definition television, you are going to suddenly be laboring under a disadvantage in your next election. It might not be much of one, but ‘not much’ is a slippery term.

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