ISBN: 0553383434
ISBN 13: 9780553383430
By: Neal Stephenson George F. Jewsbury Stephen Bury

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Reader's Thoughts

Ivan Idris

“Interface” was written by Neal Stephenson and Frederick George. I have read almost all of Neal Stephenson’s books, so I can quite safely say that “Interface” feels a lot like a Neal Stephenson book.The story is about William Cozzano who is running for president. A governor who due to a stroke gets operated. A biochip is inserted in his skull. This chip is linked to an advanced polling system giving him feedback from the electorate. The operation is paid by a group of powerful investors. The group has existed for centuries and they like being in control of governments.The GoodThere are so many good things to say about this book that I don’t know where to start. I think a lot of people would love to have a chip like that in their head without being controlled of course. Or be part of a global conspiracy.The BadA super happy end would be nice. I guess this would spoil it for you a bit. Yes, happy endings are great.The UglySome stories in the book seem unrealistic or over dramatized. But it was necessary probably. Also I don’t think an international audience is that interested in American Football.ConclusionI would highly recommend this book. Who knows it might be predicting the future of politics.

Greg Swan

If you love Stephenson and politics, you'll enjoy this novel. Maybe those conspiracy theorist, tin-foil hat kooks were right all along. I saw a few of the plot lines coming, which is rare in a NS book, but was still a great read. Especially loved the pre-neuromarketing-era quantified self tracker technology used for always-on focus grouping.


Well, I read and loved all the other Stephenson work. Time to get started on his collaborative stuff.I didn't love it. I think Interface tried to do too much. For the longest time I couldn't figure out if it was political thriller or speculative fiction. Then I decided it wasn't realistic enough to be political thriller and it had to be political fantasy. The speculative fiction thing kinda worked, but there wasn't quite enough there. Yada yada yada.I don't like categorizing things like this. I'm not trying to say that because Interface didn't fit neatly in a predefined category that it failed. What I'm trying to say is that it ended up diluted of category. It was murky and I was never clear on what I was supposed to be focusing on.I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'll be recommending it to anyone. Gonna let it sit and cook for a while longer.

Michael Murdoch

From his triumphant debut with Snow Crash to the stunning success of his latest novel, Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson has quickly become the voice of a generation. In this now-classic thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a shocking tale with an all-too plausible premise. **There's no way William A. Cozzano can lose the upcoming presidential election. He's a likable midwestern governor with one insidious advantage—an advantage provided by a shadowy group of backers. A biochip implanted in his head hardwires him to a computerized polling system. The mood of the electorate is channeled directly into his brain. Forget issues. Forget policy. Cozzano is more than the perfect candidate. He's a special effect. “Complex, entertaining, frequently funny."—Publishers Weekly “Qualifies as the sleeper of the year, the rare kind of science-fiction thriller that evokes genuine laughter while simultaneously keeping the level of suspense cranked to the max."— San Diego Union-Tribune*“A Manchurian Candidate for the computer age.” —Seattle Weekly From the Trade Paperback edition. Review "A Manchurian Candidate for the computer age" Seattle Weekly About the Author Neal Stephenson is the author of The System Of The World, The Confusion, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and other books and articles. J. Frederick George is a historian and writer living in Paris.


This is a wonderful political adventure novel, with a thin vein of science fiction running through it. If all political thrillers were this smart, snappy, funny, and thought-provoking, I would read a lot more of them. Or perhaps Clancy is a real knee-slapper and I just don't remember. But Interface follows an electoral campaign and along the way manages to ask some very profound, fundamental questions about the ethics of self-improvement and the nature of identity and life itself, all while being an enjoyable romp of a novel. The characters are well-developed and interesting (though from this and Reamde, we now know never to be a weaselly man with a problem with alcoholism who is ungallant toward women in a Stephenson novel), the story is well-paced, the plot is fiendishly clever, and the action is well-done. All this along with prose that occasionally made me chuckle out loud. Books like these make me wonder why Stephenson's novels have not already been made into sensationally popular blockbuster movies. The bones are all there: charismatic characters, adventure, special effects, and a joyous buoyancy that doesn't worry too much about being overly pedantic. Maybe people have offered and Stephenson is just being picky, which is laudable, but this would make a phenomenal movie, one I'd love to see, and maybe it would get more people reading Stephenson. Which can only be a good thing. I recommend this book to those who already love Stephenson, and to those who don't yet know they could.

Juan Hovez

Started out great, with a fantastic premise and engaging characters. Went out on a bit of a whimper. That said, I am still gorging my belly on the Neal Stephenson Kool-Aid and know the man can do no wrong. Except, apparently, when he collaborates with relatives. San Dimas High School Football rules!

Ren the Unclean

Interface is a sharp departure from the other fiction I have read by Stephenson. It is set in the present, but has technology that is pushing the envelope of what is possible today. This book does a really good job of simultaneously examining what might be possible with neurological implants and the way our political system actually works.The strongest feature of this book, is that Stephenson does a really good job of pointing out how easily manipulated the general populace is by political maneuvering. The things that the political experts in Interface do are at the same time believable and totally horrifying, both because they are immoral and because they would probably actually work.If you are interested in the possibilities of politics or neurological implants, I would definitely recommend this book.


The summary on the back page says "A modern day Manchurian Candidate". I do think there are elements that are similar. I'm also *usually* not a fan of books that are written by more than one author. That approach, while interesting, sometimes leaves me feeling like I'm just been through some kind of discordant processed experience. It either falls more "flat" than normal with both authors attempting to normalize their style to what they think the other is/does, or the two are so disparate in style that each chapter or section is markedly different, making for a somewhat "jolting" read.I wouldn't say that is true in this case. I do think I've read enough of Stephenson to know at least *some* of the sections where it was him, but the flow, pace and styles were similar enough that I never had to step out of the story flow. So good on them. They make a good team.The plot was not just "Manchurian Candidate" redone with new players and elements. The politics were current and perhaps even a little bit disturbingly accurate. Given my own current state of ... well, lets just call it dissatisfaction with our current systems, it didn't surprise me that the book did not have to suspend disbelief to upset me. That having been said, I read fiction because I want to escape things, not relive them or be pissed off more. If this book were executed even slightly less well, I probably wouldn't have finished it for that reason alone. So while the topical elements were current, the remainder of the plot elements were dynamic and fresh enough to carry me through that.The pace was great, measured and deliberate. I never felt that I wanted things to "get on with it". I could definitely recognize Stephenson's style in some of the action chapters, characterized by a certain intelligent chaos that I actually have a hard time describing. The science side of things, that can really turn me off when poorly executed, was pretty spot on. There is obviously some speculative stuff in there, but not so far outside the path reality may eventually take that I felt distracted by it.Characters were rich and well defined. There were maybe a few smaller players that I felt could have been developed more. I actually chalk that up to having more than one author. I think that can create assumptions between both players that leave some things unresolved. Not a completely unsolvable problem, but I think the propensity for threads left dangling is much higher than for a single person. Despite that critique, those opinions are retrospective, and I wouldn't actually say it detracted from the story. Its more like... a week later, thinking to myself "huh, I wonder what ever happened to Joe Jimbob Billybuck back from Chapter 2". There was also one particular character that I think got too much attention, but I won't mention who, I'll leave you to make your own assessment. I really did love the inter-relationships between the various characters, though. The weave through the various stages in the plot seamlessly and in a well thought out way. Omnipresent is the sort of chaos I appreciate from Stephenson, but the threads tying it all together are strong and resilient.Well done, sirs, well done. I only drop this rating to a four because I've read so much of Stephenson, and I don't consider this his best work. I don't really think it suffered (much) for being a collaboration, but I also know how high he has raised the bar on what I expect from him.


Großer Spaß.Wüste Räuberpistole um einen Gouverneur, der nach einem Schlaganfall einen Chip ins Hirn implantiert bekommt. Strippenzieher des Big Business steuern Verhalten des Politikers dann entsprechend der Umfragewerte ausgeklügelter Demoskopiemethoden und machen ihn so zum perfekten Kandidaten für den Präsidentschaftswahlkampf.Reichlich satirische Spitzen gegen US-Medien, Politzirkus und Wirtschaftsirrwitz. Viele Handlungsstränge aus angenehm unterschiedlichen Milieus. Struktur ungewöhnlich; einige Figuren stehen länger im Zentrum der Handlung und verschwinden dann fast völlig, sobald sie ›Funktion‹ erfüllt haben; andere treten plötzlich aus dem Nichts in die Handlung ein. Hat zwar durchaus Methode, aber deshalb ›NUR‹ 4 Sterne.Wie immer bei Stephenson: feine Passagen mit kurzweiligen Technikausführungen und haarsträubend aufregende Äktschnpassagen. — Leider ist dieser Roman aus dem Jahre 1994 bisher nicht auf Deutsch erschienen.Ach ja: Mit Eleanor Richmond haben Stephenson & George eine sehr feine Heldin geschaffen!

Tim Jin

Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, but his collaboration with J. Frederick George in "Interface" does not work. Too much politics and not enough sci-fi. The first half of the story is very entertaining about the senator and his stroke and his implant, but after that, the story became something from John Grisham's catalog, very bland and predictable.This could been a great read because the narrator was a pleasure listen to, but there was too much about Washington DC and not enough tech and sci-fi. This book fails for any avid reader of this author. I was hoping that the story would get better and more technical, but even at the end, (at the president's inauguration), there was a glimmer of hope of geekness, but it totally failed to get my interest because there was too many yawns in between the read.


Very odd - an early Stephenson book. It feels like the skeleton is a Ludlum/Forsyth/Clancey political thriller, with Stephenson fleshing things out. It was an enjoyable read, though it meandered a little towards the end. There isn't the mind blowing freedom of, say, Diamond Age or Snow Crash. The main aspect that's missing is a central hacker, whose thoughts make up the most interesting parts of a Stephenson book. It feels like he's flexing his wings here, testing out some styles and ideas. But where Snow Crash and Diamond Age are page after page of brilliant inventions and predictions, this is really just one. Once it's fleshed out, halfway through the book, there isn't a pressing desire to see what the next page holds.


Good stuff. Not the typical Stephenson fare of Snow Crash/Diamond Age/Cryptonomicon/etc, this was written mid-90s about a nigh-modern-day possibility. What I did enjoy was how the characterization evolved, Stephenson and J. Patrick George (his father, I believe) get deep into the dramatis personae, how they act, why they act, and interesting details that give a very intricate landscape of their players. And the broad range of personae that they bring into the story, even towards the end, really makes the book (the may-have-needed-may-have-not aside of Jeremiah Freel was pretty d--n funny). The storyline is plausible, as they say a "Manchurian Candidate for the connected world," which is more or less the overall idea. But the interesting part, for me, was using that setting (and the ins and outs of Washington DC) to play out a media-centric world with very intelligent, very conscious, and often hyper-aware people.

Allen Massey

Neal Stephenson does not disappoint. Even thought is is one of his first books the plot and character development are very well done. This is a very long book and I think the editing could have been a bit tighter. It could have been trimmed by a few hundred pages and been an even better book.The story is about a fictional 1996 presidential election. Mysterious forces referred to as the Network have decided that leaving the selection of the president to the whims of the American public and the existing political parties is no longer a viable method of choosing the president. The network needs a method of ensuring they can elect whomever they want and then have complete control over the president (and government).What I enjoyed most about the book was seeing how the technology that Stephenson saw as science fiction in 1995 is now almost common place and is certainly available, although not being used in the manner he imagined.


If you had a massive stroke, and lost the use of most of your mobility, coordination, and speech, what would you be willing to do to get it all back? That doesn't sound like a story by Neal Stephenson, does it? But our protagonist had just announced his presidential campaign when the stroke hits, so he makes a deal. He'll have a chip implanted in his head, which not only gives back what he lost, but it allows info from polls, campaign aides, and news to be pumped directly to his brain. Of course, the organization behind the chip wants to recoup their investment, and who's to say that chip is completely controlled by the candidate?This was a fun read, with well-developed characters and interweaving plots. Both this book and The Cobweb were co-written with Stephenson's uncle, and in my limited experience I feel like they both reigned in Stephenson a bit. I like the man's writing, but he's not as long-winded in this pair and the plot moves along nicely. It's a solid, engaging thriller with many shades of grey.


Interface was a good read, and very funny in places, but never really managed to make it past irony into telling a real story. It starts with the President declaring (just before elections) he's going to stop paying interest on the national debt, resulting in a shadowy network of gazillionaires who stand to lose money making the decision to take over the presidency to stabilize it. They do so by developing technology to implant a chip in a person's head, and then control their actions by monitoring the public's response to everything the person does, and feeding it back into the chip. A beloved governor has a stroke at just the right time to be the test case for this new technology, and a mighty team of experts begin their quest to catapult him to the Presidency.It was funny to read this during the recent presidential campaign -- though the candidates were fictional, and the race in the book was 1996, there were some eerie similarities. And the book very effectively poked fun at the whole election process, and American culture. But like many Stephenson books, it failed to give characters more than a caricature of personality, and zoomed to a completely off-the-wall finish. Still, it was fun, and I'll probably pick up other books they write together.

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