Monday, January 08, 2007

Writers' Cafe: A Diamond Age

This Sunday to Monday night marks the transition to the last day wherein I can work on my entry for the 2006 writing marathon I started on Poetic Publishing, the online art development and publishing site that Sunny and I are developing. For my entry, currently titled "The Grotesque", I'm trying to write fiction, a new thing for me, and the piece sits nicely in the genre labeled science-fiction.

My problem, other than my inability to come up with a plot, is that though I have emplaced my story in a sci-fi world that Sunny and I have been developing on and off for over a year, the world's not done yet. Most irksome for myself as a primarily poetry writer is the fact that we haven't named most of the technology we're talking about.

In contrast, Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, a book well-known in techie and hacker culture, builds worlds that are not only colorful extrapolations of now but are also well populated with contraptions that are superbly and uniquely named.

Today I read another book by this author The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. Though off to a slow start for the first hundred pages as Stephenson describes a world saturated with nanotechnology, the plot thickened eventually, and explorations into basic programing, cultural warfare, and parenting provided enough human significance to give the book a rating of 3.5 out of 5 overall.

Now, though, I feel totally screwed. My main character is a designer whose creations are given life by nanotechnology. It's going to take a while to wash the lingo and made-up tech of A Diamond Age out of my system enough to make me feel that I'm not obviously crimping someone else's style. Then again, the whole point of the marathon was to let go of the editor and just let the words flow. Furthermore, the development side of Poetic Publishing, also known as Poetic Authoring, is private and secure. So, if imitation ends up being the sincerest sort of flattery in this case, no one not of the community will have to see and laugh at it.

So here's my concise review of A Diamond Age: it's the pleasure of reading a solid writer break new ground in an interesting nanotech world mixed with the pain of being a nanotech writer trying to break into a new area without copying anyone.

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