Happy birthday Neal Stephenson!

Neil Stephenson in 2011
Neil Stephenson in 2011

Neal Town Stephenson (photo ©Ryan Somma) was born on October 31, 1959 in Fort Meade, Maryland, USA.

Neal Stephenson is part of a family of scientists and engineers, so it was almost natural for him to choose to study physics at Boston University. However, at one point he decided to switch to geography because it allowed him to spend more time using the university mainframe. For this reason, he ended up earning a B.A. in geography.

Neal Stephenson’s career as a writer began in 1984 with the novel “The Big U”, a satire on university life. A novel more typical of his production was “Zodiac” (1988), an ecological thriller.

The great success for Neal Stephenson came with the novel “Snow Crash” (1992), which mixes cyberpunk elements with many other themes. It was pointed out as an influence in the creation of hardware and software in the following decades.

In 1994 the first collaboration of Neal Stephenson with his uncle J. Frederick George, “Interface”, a sci-fi thriller, was published under the pseudonym Stephen Bury. Their second collaboration, “The Cobweb”, was published in 1996.

In 1995 Neal Stephenson published the novel “The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”, still containing elements derived from cyberpunk.

In 1999 Neal Stephenson published the novel “Cryptonomicon”, winner of the Hugo Award, narrated on two timelines, one set during World War II and the other in the late 1990s. The historical setting characterizes the so-called Baroque cycle, composed of “Quicksilver” (2003), “The Confusion” (2004) and “The System of the World” (2004), which in some ways is a prequel of “Cryptonomicon”.

In those years Neal Stephenson also worked as a consultant for Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, better known as founder and CEO of Amazon.

In 2008 Neal Stephenson returned to science fiction with the publication of the novel “Anathem”, winner of the Locus Award, a complex and very long story based in part on the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics with its philosophical consequences.

In 2011 Neal Stephenson returned to the thriller with the publication of the novel “REAMDE”. There are still technological elements typical of this author’s works but these are existing technologies. In 2019 a sequel was published, “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell”, which also contains science fiction elements.

In 2015 Neal Stephenson published the novel “Seveneves” which tells the apocalypse following the destruction of the Moon in a story that spans thousands of years.

In 2017, a collaboration was published between Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, “The Rise and Fall of DODO”, a novel that mixes science fiction and fantasy centered around a US government agency that aims to change the story using magic.

Neal Stephenson isn’t a very prolific writer, although some of his novels are really long. He’s often not easy to read because his novels can be really complex with the development of many different themes. You can also read his articles in technology magazines.

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