Ask Neal Stephenson questions about Anathem

Diana sez, "For a limited time only, fans have the chance to ask Neal Stephenson questions about his upcoming novel ANATHEM (though, of course, he may or may not answer...). Questions and answers will be on an online video that will be released before ANATHEM goes on-sale September 9, 2008." Link (Thanks, Diana!)


  1. ::swoons::

    I’ll submit a question as soon as I can contain my excitement enough to formulate an intelligent thought.

    Can’t! Wait! For ANATHEM!

  2. Mr. Jones, he was calling Stephenson mediocre and American, I believe. (Not mocking you on the Mr., that’s how I address strangers)

  3. … what happened to my vowels?

    Your comment appeared rude without any explanation, so I removed them. If you have a satisfactory explanation of why it wasn’t rude, feel free to make it.

  4. I preordered this on sight the first time it showed up on Amazon. I had read Cryptonomicon, then 2 summers ago tore through The Baroque Cycle, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age and Zodiac in one dizzy blast.
    Gibson, Gaiman, Pynchon, D.F. Wallace, Stephenson.
    Hand me something I haven’t read and I’ll fight to keep my hands on it to the last page.

  5. When I saw the headline I initially thought it was “Ask Neal Stephenson questions about Anaheim.” As in, what will happen to Disneyland and the Angels in the dystopias of the near future?

  6. … um, a minimal sense of humour?

    Actually, does not even require that. Sufficient knowledge of information relevant to the story and the ability to understand language logically within their context, with some basic not-strictly-logical human considerations (“social skills”). In fact, I think you may have just failed the Turing Test. Hmm… let me think about it and break it down (then maybe can I have my vowels back?).

    Okay. Things invoked:

    -Neal Stephenson, subject of story and object of my question; American
    -Cory Doctorow, author held in not dissimilar regard to Neal Stephenson; not American
    -Quicksilver, work of Neal’s

    So… let’s say:
    N is ‘I express respect for and enjoyment of Neal Stephenson’
    M is ‘Bng mdcr, Nl Stphnsn scks Cry Dctrw’s mplsyrpy Cndn blls’
    Q is ‘I express respect for and enjoyment of Quicksilver’
    L is ‘I have bound Quicksilver in Leather (an elaborate and expensive process)’
    T is ‘I am trolling’

    Now, again, we’re being a little loose with the rules here, but once upon a time this was a conversation, where such things happen in consideration of common human behaviour, so it’s not strictly true but safe to say:
    L -> Q
    Q -> N
    M -> ~N

    L -> N (hypothetical syllogism)

    Now, T brings any statement into doubt. Luckily, as above L -> Q -> N, 3 levels of implied praise being too much and subtle for any troll I, at least, have ever encountered. It’s like seeing someone dressed in a neatly tailored suit and assuming they’re trying to make pink goth more ironic. ~T.

    My statement S = M ^ L
    (Neal Stephenson s shtty and I have bound Quicksilver in leather)

    S = M ^ L = ~N ^ Q = ~N ^ N (modus ponens)

    S is a contradiction. Presuming Neal Stephenson did not kill commenter’s mother, driving him to illogic insanity… it is a joke!

    It is safe to assume, again outside of logical formalism but within human social interaction, that at the very least:
    ~N, I am not insulting Neal!

    Of course, to explicitly point any of this out, or to be consciously aware of these as your mind parses a statement, ruins the joke.

    Replicant. J’accuse!


    Incidentally, I found Cory’s work, and BoingBoing at all, in desperate, wild-eyed starvation for anything similar after finishing Crytonomicon. Immediately fell into introspective fascination with his work as Literature since I’m from the city he is and I dropped out of one of the universities he did; not to mention the content of his work is cool, too; and fuck yeah BoingBoing, minus kneejerking moderators.

    *(partially true, it is only a Florentine leather jacket, but I have consigned it permanently to Quicksilver; though that’s mostly out of loosely correlated personal sentiment under which I both first started reading it and bought the jacket; invoked at all for hyperbole to underline “_joke_”)

  7. Jewbacca, your second comment is such an elaborate production that I wish I could use it as justification for re-vowelling your first comment, in order to encourage other commenters to comparable feats.

    Unfortunately, I can’t. When you essay a “joke” that flops so thoroughly that numerous onlookers not only don’t find it funny, but don’t even perceive it as a failed attempt at humor, it’s your fault, not theirs. Saying the readers have no sense of humor only compounds the error.

    While it’s interesting to see all the entities you invoke in defense of your initial comment, none of those things were present in your first comment. They may have been in your head, but they didn’t make it onto the page. If you want to be able to defend your comments on those grounds, you should try one of the telepathic forums.

    What does make it onto the page in both your comments are remarks I would never in a million years pass on to Neal Stephenson. They aren’t criticisms, because criticisms include explanations. They’re just insults.

    The court compliments the appellant on presenting a lively and substantial argument, but the appeal is denied.

  8. Whoops, I forgot.

    Stefan Jones, Tenn. Tenn, this is Stefan Jones, whose readings are seldom mistaken.

  9. Late 2009 – Neal Stephenson’s Anathem breaks out of the Sci-Fi ghetto and sparks a mainstream social movement. Upper middle-class suburban mothers, concerned for the intellectual development of their children, band together to fight the unfiltered distractions of the information age. Circling their mini-vans, they take their cue from Neal Stephenson’s new novel and join forces to create special schools where their children learn in cloister-like conditions.

    These are the so-called Anathe-Moms.

  10. Cloning should be allowed, just so we can clone Neal Stephenson.

    We only allow this one clone.

  11. I was deterred from submitting a question by the number of jerk commenters on the site. How’s the Neal gonna get to my question when he has to sift through miles of “will this book be edited? Teh baroque cycle was unedited and it sucked” and other stupid bull crap?

  12. I understood the humor in Jewbacca’s comment immediately — as soon as I was able to figure out what he’d written.

    IMO, “disemvoweling” seems like a way for moderators to be both self-righteous and show-offy at the same time.

  13. MaximusNYC,

    Feel free to read the Moderation Guidelines. There are plenty of other websites with unmoderated comments if you feel that we’re not serving your needs.

  14. there are multiple moderators. How can they be showing off if you don’t know who is doing what? They don’t always announce their actions, they just apply the rules.

  15. And talk about being late to the party. I reread this whole thread, thinking at first that it was new (probably because the same book cover appeared today), but started thinking “wait, this sounds familiar…” so I checked the dates.


    MaximusNYC, I also think the satire in Swift’s A Modest Proposal is readily apparent. In case you were wondering.

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