The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age

Book - 1995
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Vividly imagined, stunningly prophetic, and epic in scope, The Diamond Age is a major novel from one of the most visionary writers of our time

Decades into our future, a stone's throw from the ancient city of Shanghai, a brilliant nanotechnologist named John Percival Hackworth has just broken the rigorous moral code of his tribe, the powerful neo-Victorians. He's made an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive device called A Young Ladys Illustrated Primer Commissioned by an eccentric duke for his grandchild, stolen for Hackworth's own daughter, the Primer's purpose is to educate and raise a girl capable of thinking for herself. It performs its function superbly. Unfortunately for Hackworth, his smuggled copy has fallen into the wrong hands.

Young Nell and her brother Harv are thetes--members of the poor, tribeless class. Neglected by their mother, Harv looks after Nell. When he and his gang waylay a certain neo-Victorian--John Percival Hackworth--in the seamy streets of their neighborhood, Harv brings Nell something special: the Primer .

Following the discovery of his crime, Hackworth begins an odyssey of his own. Expelled from the neo-Victorian paradise, squeezed by agents of Protocol Enforcement on one side and a Mandarin underworld crime lord on the other, he searches for an elusive figure known as the Alchemist. His quest and Nell's will ultimately lead them to another seeker whose fate is bound up with the Primer-- a woman who holds the key to a vast, subversive information network that is destined to decode and reprogram the future of humanity.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Bantam Books, 1995.
ISBN: 9780553380965
Branch Call Number: STE
Characteristics: 455 pages ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

Essentially, this is a coming-of-age story mingled with classic western fairy tales. But it's set in a near-future, post-scarcity, heavily stratified, steam-punk (ish) Shanghai that's been dabbling in nano-technology. Whenever I read this book, I always cross my fingers and hope that Stephenson i... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Sep 21, 2019

Early Stephenson, and an excellent tale! Cyberpunk with the "Victorian Revival," plenty of technology and social changes to the world baked in to the narrative so that the readers must catch up to the world, and as usual with this author, a lot of reflection about the power of story over our personhood. Meet your own Bespoke nanotechnology engineer...

Dec 27, 2018

May 20, 2017

Excellent future dystopian sci-fi. Very humorous at times while tenaciously upholding some very noble ideology spanning class, economics, human development and much more! The book itself is a Primer on reprogramming society from the child up.

Feb 06, 2016

I enjoyed this the entire time. The world created within The Diamond Age is fascinating and believable. As with Snow Crash, I did have the feeling Stephenson was a little unsure how to wrap everything up, but the ending was satisfying enough that I wasn't disappointed. Basically, I just wanted MORE! That's a good sign. A definite thumbs up from me--but read Snow Crash first, as the two books share some connections.

Sep 14, 2013

Think nanotechnology and 3D printing will, like the replicators of the Star Trek universe, lead to an egalitarian utopia? Think again. Stephenson's view of human nature is that there will always be haves and have-nots, and that sheer abundance of freely-available resources would simply change the face of that problem, not alter the essential unfairness. But when young Nell lucks across a treasure that nobody of her social stratum would ordinarily have access to, she proves that the human mind is a difficult thing to completely repress.

Aug 14, 2013

A gorgeous (and hauntingly prescient) conjecture about near-future society. If you find the first few pages to be a bit language-thick, or cynically postured to the point of unengaging, do yourself a favor and wait out "Bud" (who, to be quite frank, annoys the narrator) and let the stories do their job. TDA manages to virtuous without being moralizing, which I find odd but good. Lovely language. The book does its job.

Jul 30, 2013

Stephenson wrote this when??? When talking teachers and speak and spell were the most awesome kids toys, a lot has changed since the eighties. It's not Reamde, or Snow Crash, or Zodiac, or even the Big U, but it's a fun ride, and engaging.

Jun 28, 2012

Love this book. Thinking i'm going to read it again soon..

Jul 22, 2011

I'm almost half way and loving this. Listening to it as an audio-book. We have lots of laugh out loud moments in it.

Jun 22, 2011

I'm not a huge fan of Stephenson's later bloated books, but this is a fast-paced and inventive work on nanotechnology and China.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Aug 19, 2015

blaquer thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Aug 14, 2013

seaeffess thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors



Find it at EPL

To Top