Interface

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

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Reader's Thoughts

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.

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.

Taueret

I always think authors who set their sci fi in current times and base it in real technology are, um, courageous? What's wildly bleeding-edge in 1994 sounds lame and antiquated in 2011. I guess that's the real problem with describing actual instead of "near future" technology. Luckily for my commuting sanity, the story here is ok (think mid-grade Crichton?) and knowing the awesomeness that is to come from one half of this writing duo, I can forgive nearly anything for the price of a single Audible credit.19/2/11Finished listening to this yesterday. Demoting it to 2 stars,because really, other than my affection for Stephenson, it doesn't have much going for it. In fact if it was by any other author I would probably give it one star. It is interesting to see how an author develops over time- this book, while crappy, touches on a lot of interesting and familiar Stephenson themes: secret power structures; currency and the relationship between events and value; technology; a female protagonist (in this case two). The story is complicated (and made overcomplicated by deus ex-ish appearances out of the blue of new characters at convenient moments) and interesting- I don't think Stephenson could be boring if he tried. It's just contrived and not very well written imo- there's a lot of using the same adjective twice in one paragraph, and "he said, she said" dialogue. It's hard to imagine the amazingly beautiful and erudite prose style of 21st century Stephenson as belonging to the same guy who penned this. OMG maybe he has had one of those implants!1!111!! (you have to read it if you want to get my lame joke).

molosovsky

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!

Matt Hartzell

I have mixed feelings about this one. I've never before read any Stephenson, and this book was given to me as a gift. I think the behind-the-scenes look at politics was interesting, and the sci-fi / technology bend carried it along. However, I thought that the book was very slow to start, and took a long time to get to where it was going. Things finally picked up by the very end, but then the story finished rather quickly and abruptly. As far as structure and pacing goes, I think things could be a lot better.Stephenson has an interesting style as an author. He tries a fair bit of humor, some which of was entertaining, and some of which, while fairly witty, I just didn't think was all that funny. One thing I did appreciate about his style is that he didn't leave unanswered questions linger for very long. He was quick to provide answers and not force the reader to dwell on things for too long. The problem, again, is that the pace is just a little bit too slow for my tastes. I'm not sure how this book compares Stephenson's other novels, and I'm not sure what how much the co-author contributed to the actual writing. All in all, I'm glad I read the book. I hope that most of this book isn't true, because it would confirm my darkest fears about the political process and presidential elections.

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE

I read Stephenson's "Quicksilver" w/in the last yr & was very impressed. His fictionialized acct incorporating real historical characters (many of them likely to be known only to scholars) was thoroughly worked out. It was over 900pp long & took me at least a mnth to read. Now I've just read his collaborative political/medical thriller cowritten w/ J. Frederick George & I'm less impressed. While "Quicksilver" might've been somewhat comparable to something by John Barth &/or Robert Anton Wilson, "Interface" is more comparable to Michael Crichton &/or Robin Cook. In other words, while it's carefully written & well-worked-out, it still reeks of writing aimed at a market rather than something written to develop original ideas. Take, eg, the title: There's already a SF bk by Mark Adlard called "Interface" from 1971. Not that that's such a big deal, the word's used in a significantly different way in each bk, but it immediately makes me think of mainstream cinema's seemingly endless remake mentality. An ad blurb on the front of the bk calls this most recent "Interface" "A Manchurian Candidate for the computer age" & that's entirely too true for it to be a compliment from my perspective insofar as the plot isn't really that original. Even the multi-culturalism of the bk seems forced: just about every character is a representative of a different ethnic group. Nonetheless, I'm thankful that the politics aren't as numbnuts as Chrichton's "State of Fear" even if they are more than a bit improbable: a black woman who'd attained prosperity as a banker married to an engineer experiences an economic downslide & other miseries: she & her husband end up in a trailer park, he commits suicide, her son gets shot, she teeters around bag-lady-ism, she criticizes a racist politician in public, the politician's career gets ruined as a result, she gets launched on a political career on her own b/c people are so impressed by her articulateness, & becomes, what else?, the 1st black woman president. Well.. I'd like to see it happen, so I enjoyed the story, so.. whatever. Anyway, it's 616 pages long so, as usual, any capsule critique is going to be grossly oversimplifying - as this one is. I read it quickly b/c I was sucked into it as I might be by any well-written thriller &, yet, wd I recommend it? Not really - there're so many truly great bks out there to be read: Read McCoy's "The Politics of Heroin" or Joyce's "Ullyses" if you haven't already - & skip this one.

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.

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.

Unwisely

I didn't think there were any Neal Stephenson books pre-him going off the rails I hadn't read. I own Zodiac, I've read The Big U. But, there was this. It's about a presidential campaign, but it's really about media consultations, shadowy conspiracies, and nanotechnology's ability to help stroke victims.Despite the fact that it was written in the mid-90s, there were only two parts that seemed really dated - using floppy disks to load an OS, and the presidential campaign not kicking off until Labor Day (which may have been for the sake of the story anyway).I was trying to figure out what the politics here were. There seems to be a libertarian push, but there is also a part where the huge governmental water and public land subsidies are called out for being a form of welfare; that's not something that you hear a lot. Really, that is a minor part, (just something I'm interested in) so don't let it distract you from your enjoyment. Mostly I was happy to be be immersed in another old-school Neal Stephenson.

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.

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.

Jon

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.

Mark

If'n you like Neal Stephenson you'll probably like this book. It seems a little lighter on the technology than his usual books (there aren't so many passages describing the inner workings of some obscure technical concept): the book is basically a political thriller. The basic premise is that William Cozzano, the wildly popular and down to earth governor of Illinois, suffers a stroke and loses some motor and verbal ability. Meanwhile, the President of the USA decides to quit paying any interest on the national debt which causes the shadowy Network that owns huge amounts of the debt to take an immediate interest. They decide to implant a neural chip in Cozzano in the hopes of controlling him after he wins the Presidency. Of course since it's a Stephenson book the plot is much more complex than that and includes many supporting characters who intertwine (or don't) with the main plot. If you like the guy's style I imagine you'll enjoy this book.

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.

Geo

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.

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