Interface

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

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Reader's Thoughts

Camille

Here's my thought process when reading any Neal Stephenson book...1. This is amazing! Stephenson is an absolute genius! The detailed and clever way he has of describing things is just so good. No one else can do that like he can. He might be my favorite author of all time.2. This book continues to be incredibly interesting, clever, smart and unexpected. Loving it.3. Uh oh.... coming up on the end of the book, bracing myself for the train wreck that is a Neal Stephenson ending.4. And... a spectacular train wreck it was.I don't know how it always happens, but the slowly, intricately crafted plot-line all of a sudden explodes into some sort of unbelievable giant gunfight where the timeline of the story speeds up by about 100 times, things happen for no reason whatsoever, and everything is just tied up quickly in the most ridiculous ways, preferably with some giant explosions. Throughout the rest of the book, every tiny thing that happens gets a long explanation, even when it has nothing to do with the advancement of the story, and I love that. At the end of the book, the most enormous plot developments happen with no explanation whatsoever. I always have to go back and see if I've accidentally skipped something because it's so abrupt and confusing. Most of the book was great, though.

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!

Brittany

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.

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.

andreajulia

I have been a fan of his ever since I read “Snow Crash” years ago. He has a great talent for taking existing technology and science and taking it just a little further; almost Sci Fi but it doesn’t take a lot of convincing to make you believe this could actually happen. In that way he’s a lot like Michael Crichton. I remember reading Jurassic Park and thinking this could happen... But I digress. The book’s main focus is following an independent presidential candidate (William Cozzano) during an election year. In that respect it’s very timely and entertaining. Cy Ogle, the campaign’s publicity director, is a great character: Sleazy and manipulative, yet likable, he often steals the show form the books “good guys”.There’s not even a pretense that any of candidates actually care about politics, it’s all about image - and how best to manipulative the voters.For about 3/4 of the book it’s funny and interesting, with just the right amount of suspense (does or doesn’t he have a chip implanted in his brain that controls his mind?). Unfortunately, this book really needed some editing. Towards the end it managed to be both too long and to not spend enough time on the important things. Worst of all, when the final plot was unveiled it felt too forced. The powerful secret organization’s plans were unveiled ... and it was not nearly as interesting as listening to Cy Ogle manipulate voters.Overall, this book is a good read. If you’ve never read anything by him I would recommend starting with “Snow Crash” and then tackling “Cryptonomicon”.

This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

A story about a presidential candidate who has an electronic chip implanted in his head which (unknown to him) allows his handlers to influence what he says. On the surface this is to allow immediate response to the mood of the electorate, but there is, of course, somewhat more sinister motives as well.This book is somewhat more slyly humorous than I expected, poking quite a bit of fun at the people who run presidential campaigns and the press and pundits who cover it. Having read this immediately following our recent 2008 election, there were some interesting contrasts which are partly due to the way elections have changed in the last decade and partly due to the over-the-top hyperboles used to make the plot run.While not the greatest book by Neal Stephenson (one of the two authors behind the nom-de-plume of Stephen Bury the book was originally published under), it is an interesting take on the way campaigns can be (or could be) manipulated on everything involving image and nothing involving substance.

Sid

Not the best of Stephenson's writing, but a good and worthwhile read. In other Stephenson works, I found that the technology was in the background and even if written early in his career the technology didn't seem dated as it was either sci-fi or researched enough that it didn't seem too far fetched, or on the other hand too dated. This book, however, the technology seems very dated in some cases and far fetched in others. Watches that receive video and provide feedback, not so far fetched. That they worked in the back waters of Iowa juxtaposed against very limited use of cell phones as a technology .... what?Character development is on par with his other books, but some threads seem to collide in the end with little follow through.I recommend to Stephenson fans or conspiracy readers.

Kevin

Collaborative novels rarely in my experience enhance the gifts of a talented author. At the risk of being tedious, I refer to Sven Birkerts essay " 'The Fate of the Book' ", which ponders the future of discourse as we move from a literary culture to a mass-media culture. Mass-media (film, radio, etc) are never the products of a singular voice, but the products of collaboration, cooperation, and compromise. As we see more and more collaborative works of fiction, we can be sure that the act of reading them is not a communion with another singular soul, but the consumption of a product meant merely to entertain. Writers collaborating as equals form their own focus group; what is deep, complex and difficult to convey is neglected in favor of what can be expressed in simple, functional language. Style is on the chopping block here, and when it is gone so too will literature be gone.So. This collaboration between Stephenson and (I believe) an uncle of his is mere entertainment, and though there are flashes of Stephenson's insight and comedic wit, they don't make the whole into something more.

Jason Byrne

An intriguing read - both for the science and the politics. The science came off as believable, but where this books shines is the dead right tone it gives the politics in the book. I've been working in politics and campaigns for three decades and the window this gives into that world, while not factually correct at all times, is definitely correct in capturing the essence. And like with all Stephenson books, this delivers memorable characters and settings. There seems to be a bit more humor in this book than Stephenson usually delivers (and thus reminded me much more of Bruce Sterling). As a DC-area native, I especially found the inclusion and description of this area to be well done and accurate for the most part. In summary, this book provides a chilling what-if on what the confluence of technology and politics might bring about, and it does it with some humor, great characters, and a story that winds its way through many subplots while never losing sight of the goal. The descriptions of locations in the book I am familiar with were dead on, as were the descriptions of electoral politics and life within the bubble of Washington DC.Note on the author:I got an older copy of this from a friend and for the author it listed "Stephen Bury" and then had a little sticker on it that said "With Neal Stephenson!". So going in, I'd known Stephenson had some influence on it and it wasn't until after I finished the book that I looked up the author and saw it was a collective pseudonym for Stephenson and his uncle.Wasn't really much of a surprise as while I was reading I ran across numerous passages where I said to myself "Man, Stephenson must have written this entire passage!" Especially for this era of Stephenson's career, this is very much true to his writing style then (first part of the '90s_.

Roger Bailey

This is a novel about how bourgeois political campaigns manipulate the electorate. The technology does not currently exist for the manipulation to be carried out exactly the way it is in this book, but it is actually pretty close. Nevertheless, this does illustrate the cynical way these politicians and their campaign consultants view the voters. It can be seen in the real world too. Just how often is such a campaign based on any issues that the people care about? They are based instead on image and fluff. It really does make a mockery of so-called democracy and shows that this so-called democracy has very little to do with democracy at all. Notwithstanding our lack of the technology available in this story, plenty of allusions are made to actual campaign tactics so the illustration stands very well. By the way, this was first published in 1994 and even though no date was set as the backdrop of the story it appears to be no later than that date. All the references to the H. Ross Perot candidacy and the electoral tactics of the 1992 presidential campaign give it a somewhat quaint and dated feel. The conduct of the campaigns still is relevant to the present though.

Dave

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.

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.

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.

Mad Russian the Traveller

Entertaining book that captures the socio-political zeitgeist of the USA for the last ten years.For me, this book falls into the "mainstream fiction" category; a category of books that I don't often read. And with this expectation I embarked upon this novel and have been enjoying the mind candy aspect. But throughout this book I often found myself chuckling at the so very true social commentary. Great entertainment and great gallows humor as we all get to experience the decline of American civilization.UPDATE: Just finished this book; it was a lot better than I thought it would be. I liked the ending and the many eery parallels to current reality. Written in 1994, it seem so appropriate for today's political struggle between the few who believe in liberty and the status quo that believes in control and tyranny. Recommended.

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.

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