Manual The Law And The Lady (Illustrated)

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The Law and the Lady is a detective story, published in by Wilkie Collins. It is not quite as sensational in style as The Moonstone and The Woman in White.
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Still, the lack of education and opportunities for the underclass has created a wide division between them and a wealthy phyle like the Neo-Victorians, who have adopted the manners and society of the British Victorian age. John Hackworth is a brilliant nanotechnologist who lives with and works for the neo-Victorians. Unfortunately for Hackworth, Dr. X, the Chinese black market engineer whose compiler Hackworth used to create the copy of the Primer, wants a copy of the book for his own purposes as well.

Hackworth is mugged on his way home with the Primer by a gang under Dr. The education Nell gets from the interactive Primer ends up changing her life drastically.

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X, both of whom are aware of his crime and both of whom are using Hackworth for their own interests and goals. Stephenson has created an intricate and marvelous future world, with both amazing achievements and alarming pitfalls. At about the halfway mark, the plot weakens as it digresses to some new, less appealing plot lines the Drummers, who create a subconscious hive mind through sexual orgies and abandons some interesting characters and plots, such as the humorous but ruthless Judge Fang and his assistants, and the mysterious, powerful CryptNet organization.

The ending of The Diamond Age was even weaker, as yet another group, the Chinese Fists of Righteous Harmony, takes center stage and reenacts the Boxer Rebellion, putting Nell and other characters in grave danger. Then the novel abruptly ends, answering a few questions but leaving most of the threads hanging and the fate of the characters unclear. Overall, despite its weaknesses, The Diamond Age is still a worthwhile read for those who appreciate brain-challenging science fiction.

Content advisory: rape and near-rape. Some rough language in parts, including F-bombs. Brief but explicit description of an orgy. Okay, here's what this Stephenson guy did with his novel. He got together a focus group of 25 unpaid, thirteen year old boys and made them puke out as many buzz words in 10 minutes that they could about science fiction. The buzz words had to be something that would palliate the hyperactive endocrine glands of 13 year old males.

To give you a thin sample Okay, here's what this Stephenson guy did with his novel. To give you a thin sample of this overreaching heterogeneous brew, I took from pages 2 random consecutive chapters all the words that would intrigue young science fiction fans in the year This book nails the pimple-faced, horny, just-starting-to-get-facial-hair demographic.

I'll have more to say about this list. A taste of only 17 pages in The Diamond Age. The other pages are almost exactly the same, but with additional pimply-faced and creative buzz words. At some point there is a 'rainbow' and a 'pony' and 'Carmen SanDiego,' and in several places there is a 'unicorn,' and characters named 'Duck, Dinosaur, Peter Rabbit, and Purple' so even young girls may find some traction herein. I am not an objective critic of science fiction because I don't read enough of it.

I know it's not supposed to be real. I got it. So, bringing no prejudice into this book except an award winning expectation, I was greatly disappointed. Just by the list above you can see the author was all over the place, like birdshot, with his themes.

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He's forward in time; he's backwards in time; he's science; he's fantasy; he's grounded in technology with some small steps to near future, coincident with great leaps into distant future; he's mystery, drama, fable; he references too many cultural items from the late 's and 90's, like dreadlocks, and homeboys and "bitchin' dude. And please, how many times in , appear the words: anfractuous, ramifying, and fractal? Not buying it.

Good words, but way overused. I wish there was a scatter plot of science fiction genres along an x-y axis, because for my next science fiction book, I'd move a couple values to the right, and up one. I credit the second star merely because Stephenson had a form and stuck to it throughout. He never wavered. The narrative is way too schizoid for me, but it is a distinct style with a very mature--despite being teenybop--vocabulary.

View all 39 comments. Mar 25, carol. Initially, I wasn't tempted by "The Diamond Age," but the subtitle drew me in. A book advising young women? However, given a choice between this book and the classic young women's story, Little Women , I think I'll go with Little Women.

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At least none of the girls are raped. The Diamond Age, Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer was an interesting, convoluted, frustrating book packed with ideas, characters and too little plot. I suspect Stephenson of being in love with his ideas and Initially, I wasn't tempted by "The Diamond Age," but the subtitle drew me in. I suspect Stephenson of being in love with his ideas and would suggest a firmer hand on the editorial wheel.

Far too many details on nanobots, too few details on characters.


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Hard to put down when I was reading, and equally hard to pick up later. It was eligible for a re-read--or at least a re-listen, as I'm told the narrated version is quite enjoyable--until the rape and the narrative mish-mash at the end. The story revolves around Nell, a young girl living with an older brother, her mother and her mother's series of boyfriends, and John Percival Hackworth, creator of The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

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There's a story-within-a-story plot of Nell reading the interactive Primer and experiencing the fairy-tale like story within. A host of other characters are involved, including a minor thug who briefly dates Nell's mom; her brother Harv; Hackworth's patron, Lord Finkle-McGraw; Miranda, the actress who reads the Primer; Constable Moore, war veteran and her guardian of sorts; Dr. X, a mysterious character who wants the Primer for unknown reasons; Miranda's boss, Carl Hollywood; Hackworth's daughter and a few others.

It's also worth noting that despite being A Young Lady's Primer, it almost completely fails the Bechdel test.

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Because, you know: it is not just about the Young Lady; it is also about the creator of the book and Stephenson's technology. When it comes to characters, Stephenson quickly creates a feeling of depth in some. One of my favorites was Judge Fang, with his New York accent, his adherence to Confucius principles, and his willingness to follow the path of ethics over the path of law.

It reminded me very strongly of Master Li in Bridge of Birds. Sadly, we lose track of the Judge. Likewise, while the Miranda story was engaging and we get a glimpse of her emotions at a particular time of life, she disappears for the last third of the book. While both characters tied in quite nicely with the story of the Primer and Nell, the story of other parts of the Primer took precedence. Spoilers below, naturally, because how else can I talk about this mess? Sigh, what can I say? The story-within-story technique is interesting and often enjoyable for me. In this case, it gives insight into just how special this book is and how it interacts with the child and the environment to shape response.

However, as Nell ages, it could have done a better job with parallels to her real life, particularly in the last half when it was teaching her about the '12 keys,' which I think meant learning coding techniques. I found myself raising an eyebrow once or twice.


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Would a Victorian primer really have encouraged a child to stab someone? Sure, it may have been a sign of the book not quite working--or it may have been a sign of Stephenson taking the story where he needed it to go. I'm betting the latter. It was a relatively coherent story up until about page when the plot loses any sense of caring about characterization and moves characters around to get to where Stephenson needs them to make his ultimate thematic point.

Hackforth ends up in a Drummer society, where much like entering Fairyland, he has aged ten years when he emerges around page Miranda decides to look for Nell and disappears from the narrative after accepting an engagement with two shady characters. Hackforth's daughter appears for a bizarre live-action ractive performed on a ship. Nell suddenly decides to leave the Victorian society and set off for China, although we aren't sure why, and ends up in a sado-maochism brothel.

It was a mess and only sheer stubbornness kept me reading. When Nell is captured and raped by the Fists of Righteous Harmony it catapulted me out of bored confusion into rage. Unacceptable, but thanks, Stephenson, for making sure the A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer reinforces women as rape targets, because we wouldn't want to think we've moved beyond it as a plot device.

Oh--and then he provided a capstone with a potential rape, saved for the last two pages. I have an entire ranty post about the use of rape in stories and believe it was completely unnecessary here. To then call this book "A Young Lady's Primer" is insulting and makes any empowerment themes hollow. You know what else I realized? Nell has very few interactions with women in this book.

With the exception of Nell, women are pawns or dependents.