@rampantbicycle The description you offer of reading Stephenson is startlingly similar to how I felt when I read Altered Carbon. Maybe it’s because I was gifted the book by a former student who was a Morgan devotee and would stay after class to talk him up, but I was underwhelmed. It felt like the novel was written to justify a few of the cooler scenes and cooler ideas. I’m not opposed to reading novels that are like this, and I will likely try out some Stephenson in the not too distant future, but I’m glad that you’re warning me.

Another one of those “look how damn smart I am books” is House of Leaves. It’s dense and wonderful, but it oozes that “look at me, I went to graduate school (and have read theory, gasp!)” smugness that I find alternately charming and insufferable. In a way, I can sympathize, because I know what it is like to carry around knowledge that you can’t really share with people outside of professional conferences and graduate seminars, but I also don’t need my footnotes to have citations to an obscure essay that Borges wrote and was never translated. I think this is true of everyone who has taken the time to accumulate knowledge in a very specific area. (I think all of us at the Squad know a thing or two about this, heh… Like @bluesforbuddha always says, there are some things we won’t be bringing up at Thanksgiving dinner because people will look at us like we’re maniacs.)

@unmanneddrone I appreciate the synopsis of Stephenson’s stuff. Based on what you’re saying, I may work my way up to Cryptonomicon, as I would definitely prefer something on the lighter end of the spectrum. Nanotech Dickens sounds right up my alley right now, actually, so I may start with that. I’m sure I can acquire Snow Crash with relative ease as well, and I’m looking forward to reading something that smacks of Neuromancer with a bit more characterization, which is what I got from your description.

Gibson is an interesting case study in what people look for when they read, I think. I know a lot of people think that the Sprawl Trilogy is dated (and they’re right, it definitely feels like speculative fiction from long enough ago that we realize it’s wrong and not long enough ago to be charmingly wrong), but I cannot get over the way that guy uses language and how well that poetic, sensory-mindfuck stream of consciousness style describes the matrix. It’s some of the best, weirdest writing that takes everything I like about the Beat writers and omits all the stuff I hate while adding a million things I didn’t realize I was missing in my life and worldview. (Incidentally, the Shadowrun universe, which took more than a bit from the Sprawl Trilogy, was also forced to update some of the world-building stuff with 3rd and 4th ed, because no one foresaw wireless networks back in the 80’s when they were making the game.)