(Bantam Spectra Book) by Neal Stephenson

i’ve had quite a few people prod me to read this novel and finally over one weekend, i did. thank you prodders.

i consider myself tech fringe; by which i mean while i am not a tech person myself, so many of my loved ones and friends ARE that i am relatively comfortable with broad concepts, and a fair amount of jargon. i’m pretty good with jargon. as such, i found this book easy enough to immerse myself in despite its rather techie bent.

set in an indeterminate future where capitalism has finally unraveled the fabric of government and where society calls upon “franchulates” to provide the services and protection we would normally expect to receive from an administrative body. not strictly dystopian in feel, there is certainly a simultaneously chaotic and invasive feel to the way society has drifted. there are not, precisely speaking, laws to provide the structure one typically encounters in culture. however, there are certainly mores and norms which seem based on whatever sub-set of values each person chooses to buy into. in the most literal sense.

written in a rollicking and energetic prose, this is a novel for the intellectually curious and spiritually unbiased. for interwoven into a wry and playful examination of the effect of technology and consumerism on human society, is a reflection on how spirituality can be fundamentally invested in these expressions of culture. how we find transcendent meaning in technology, and how this can easily be corrupted. i found it utterly refreshing to see this subject taken up by an astute participant in a socio-techological dialogue. attempting to convey a cerebral experience of modern life with room for the unexplained and mystical is remarkably difficult, and often leaves one unable to confidently communicate understanding of either. this work does so convincingly and with a deft command of language.