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Neal Stephenson

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Neal Stephenson's talk in Austin, October 1, 2003

October 1, 2003 Neal Stephenson was at Book People in Austin, TX, where he signed copies of his latest book "Quicksilver", the first book in "The Baroque Cycle" trilogy, and answered audience's questions. Below is an approximate transcript of his talk. Due to the poor quality of the tape recording it was hard to pick out the exact words that were said, so I can't guarantee the accuracy of either audience's questions or Neal Stephenson's answers. The places I couldn't hear I paraphrased the best I could.

One of the most remarkable things about this interview is that Neal Stephenson introduced the audience to the word "steampunk" and had to assure them he didn't make it up. Who could have guessed that in a few years steampunk jewelry will be sold at Walmart!

Other curious bits from the interview: the pronunciation of the Qwghlm islands, and Neal Stephenson's reading tastes (actually you may regret finding out about that one). Also, a very interesting observation of what we mean by "technology".

Neal Stephenson in Austin, October 4, 2004

p249 Neal Stephenson at Book People in 2004

On October 4, 2004 Neal Stephenson was at Book People in Austin, TX, where he read an excerpt from his latest book, "The System of the World" (the third and the last one in The Baroque Cycle), gave a talk and signed books. Here are the questions the audience asked him, and his answers:

Q1. How do you your historical research?

Q2. Can you comment briefly on your perception of status of science and philosophy in the current education system?

Q3. Do you have any plans to write more nonfiction?

Q4. What are you reading now?

Q5. The future of metaweb, and is it a good forum to explore how can we get Enlightenment to start again?

Q6. Now that you've been through this process, do you see yourself engaging in the long, long form again?

Q7. You spend that much time just setting the stage for the final conflict. Your prose, your writing style alone is what keeps people coming back. Is that daunting to your publisher?

Q8. When you were here last October, you talked about how you explored history for Cryptonomicon, and the Baroque Cycle. Do you think you reached the end of that?

Q9. Some people are dissatisfied with endings of Neal Stephenson's books...

Q10. Can you talk about Waterhouse and Shaftoe characters, why they appeal to you and why they showed up in the last 4 books?

Q11. I was just wondering if < some author of historical fiction and/or his book> caught your eye while you were writing this.

Q12. Did you develop a lot of material for "Cryptonomicon" and the Baroque Cycle that's not included in the final versions?

Q13. What are your favorite books of all time?

Q14. Are you still a speed metal fan?

Q15. On Neal Stephenson's view of history and how it informs his understanding of current events; and how come current political realities don't play a significant part in his fiction?

Neal Stephenson in Austin, September 25, 2008

P1020202 Neal Stephenson at Book People in Austin, TX in 2008

On September 25, 2008 Neal Stephenson gave a reading from his latest novel Anathem, signed books and answered audience's questions. This is Stephenson's third reading and Q/A at Book People over the last 4 years. Some of the questions haven't changed much from year to year. Are his projects getting bigger and bigger? Is he ever going to write something short? Which is the favorite of the novels he has written? Why does he prefer to do his research in books, as opposed to search engines? Hint: serendipity. Are there new technologies he is excited about? Other questions are new. Does he have any ideas on posthumanism? Has he been making something cool in the workshop lately? Why is Anathem set on an imaginary world, not Earth?

Cyberpunk after 9/11: ArmadilloCon 2004 panel

Chris Nakashima-Brown and Lawrence Person

Synopsis from ArmadilloCon program book: Why have the cyberpunks abandoned the future? Do William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" and Bruce Sterling's "The Zenith Angle" evidence a trend? (And don't forget the pre-2001 "Cryptonomicon" of Neal Stephenson and "Zeitgeist" of Sterling) Are they science fiction? What makes them different from more mainstream techno-thrillers? What does it mean for the future of SF?

Panelists: Chris Nakashima-Brown (moderator), Lawrence Person, Kurt Baty

John Scalzi's Guest of Honor interview: ArmadilloCon 2008

John Scalzi's interview took a different format than the usual Guest of Honor interview. There was no interviewer; Scalzi paced back and forth, shooting the breeze with the audience. He probably didn't say anything one wouldn't find on his blog. It's how he said those things that made him so entertaining. He acted out various stories from his life as little skits, from a Hugo winner's attitude to getting to know 16-year-old girls. He also commented on Neal Stephenson, openly admitted to stealing from other authors, and talked about why he could not afford to be as polemical in "Old Man's War" as Heinlein was in "Starship Troopers". Finally, he revealed an unexpected fact about himself.

The pictures from ArmadilloCon 2008 can be found in my photo gallery.