Interface: Neal Stephenson's underappreciated masterpiece


24 Responses to “Interface: Neal Stephenson's underappreciated masterpiece”

  1. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

    Is this the one that has the demographics firm that has the electorate sliced up into about a hundred types, each with names like POST-CONFEDERATE GRAVY EATER and DEBT-HAUNTED WAGE SLAVE?

  2. smalltimore says:

    Spot on, Mr. Hayden.

    This book is amazing. Highly recommended, along with The Cobweb. When searching for more Stephenson to devour while waiting for the last ‘System’ book, I was terribly happy to find these.

  3. Nix says:

    Chang@#17, no, not zombies. Reality has just outdone art, is all.

    We have two *separate* shadowy groups, each backing different sides.

  4. Cory Doctorow says:

    And Depression Haunted Can Stacker and 400-Pound Mouth Breathing Tab Drinker!

  5. dbrown says:

    After many years I’m still by the perfection of the DEPRESSION-HAUNTED CAN STACKER demographic. I re-read Cobweb after the newest Iraq war started and it holds up — not to be missed, though not as awesome as Interface.

  6. SteveK says:

    My favorite part of Interface is Cy Ogle explaining how politicians are trained to look good relative to the gamma curve of normal TV, and how they’ll all be voted out (in favour of better-looking ones) once HD catches on…

  7. Thomas says:

    This book also seems prophetic in many ways. Not necessarily the core technology, but other developments in politics and media since the book was written seem to have come true. “We have solved the problem of elections.” Indeed!

  8. TwoShort says:

    I work on demographic analysis software for a living, and while the names of their clusters are a bit over the top, that stuff is otherwise spot-on. So much so, it kind of freaked me out reading it: If the only part I know a lot about is completely true…

  9. Michael R. Bernstein says:

    TwoShort @ #7: Do you include the EKG-etc. monitoring of the demographic ‘representatives’?

  10. mwisconsin says:

    I couldn’t get 30 pages into Interface. Too many times I’ve discarded SF books because of their lack of vision, or because some unforeseen invention has made their previously visionary text obsolete. I don’t fault the authors for this, I just can’t make it through the text without feeling disdain.

    I have a similar reaction to watching them cradle an audio modem in the movie Sneakers as well.

  11. grom says:

    Funny timing, I only just finished re-reading thisa couple of weeks ago. I rarely re-visit books so this was quite odd but loved it just as much the second time.
    Highly recommended by me.

  12. Chang says:


    I got it when I was digging through Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Great book. Totally came true in freaky ways.

    If Bush’s face was all messed because of CIA mind control, then what was Kerry’s excuse? Zombie Mind Control?

  13. License Farm says:

    I’ve not read this one, and will be on the lookout for it, but earlier this year I read Stephenson’s The Big U, which I believe was his first novel. As usual in his oeuvre it’s filled with amazingly huge ideas that he obviously understands in proper context better than your average skiffy hack latching onto the concept of the hour. Sure, it’s got some truly ridiculous plot twists, but it’s a black comedy, so I can forgive the giant mutant rats and Baltoslovenian terrorists.

  14. IvyMike says:

    I’m pretty sure this book came true.

    Remember the Bush jacket bulge? The drooping face and occasional slurred speech? I’m pretty sure it’s all evidence pointing towards the neural control system from this book.

  15. Moon says:

    An odd coincidence: I just picked up this book one week ago to read for the second time. It’s one of the few Stephenson books I haven’t read many times.

  16. bottyguy says:

    I have both Interface and The Cobweb, I much prefer The Cobweb. The description of Midwestern life in a college is right out of my memory. I especially like the butcher shop stuff.

  17. Brad S. says:

    Great recommendation.

    Well into the story, the governor is discussing The Network and its ability to operate just below the surface of the public consciousness. His closest advisor spots a flock of birds spinning in the sky, and comments how the mass of birds can swoop and suddenly shrink in size to apparently nothing – then suddenly turn and grow to intimidating size again. I forget the exact wording, but it was such a well-written passage that every time I spot a mass of fast-moving birds in the sky I think of this book.

  18. ella says:

    I love this book, and I’d like to reiterate the previous poster’s recommendation of The Cobweb, especially pertinent in these days of Iraq the sequel

  19. valis says:

    I bought this book new a few years ago from Uncle Hugo’s (The oldest independent science fiction bookstore in America. Founded in 1974.) I was delighted to find it signed when I got home. This happened again with Quicksilver as well.

  20. strandloper says:

    I own both the “Stephen Bury” books, along with all the other Stephenson books. The only ones I find hard reading are the System of the World trilogy. I’m halfway through the second volume and it’s really slow going.

  21. Outsdr says:

    >if you liked the Cryptonomicon exegesis on eating Cap’n Crunch cereal, you will love this book.

    Ugh. That was the worst part of the entire book.

  22. buddy66 says:

    Stephenson tells me more about more things I don’t want to know more about than any writer I know.

  23. Soon Lee says:

    That must really limit the pool of SF you can read to a small, select subset of mainly very recent works?

    The giant mutant rats were totally cool in the context of the LARP.

  24. Matthew Miller says:

    The other “Stephen Bury” book, The Cobweb, is also well worth reading. And it has a nice, satisfying ending.

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