What makes Neal Stephenson a great writer to read?

Neal Stephenson. Author of a wonderful mix of books, including the sci-fi Snow Crash and my personal fave, the System of the World trilogy. It is the latter of these that really blew my mind and helped me realise the depth and breadth that a good novel can create. I admire many things about Neal; his research, which for the System trilogy must have been colossal; his characters, excellent thumbnails with complexity just below the surface and more.

But the thing that really excites me about his work is the unashamed depth and sheer wordiness of it. I’ll admit that it isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I love the feeling that the author is challenging you to get lost in the book and that reading it isn’t going to be effortless. I struggle to do that in my writing without writing huge tracts of pointless description. I don’t think that my books really lend themselves to it to be fair, but I’d still love to be able to. I think that perhaps his research gives him the freedom to ramble without it ever feeling like, or indeed being, rambling.

Sometimes I like to be able to breeze through a book, the words throwing themselves into my mind. But other times I enjoy having to delve in and really commit myself. Neal’s books demand commitment and the reward is more than worth it. I’m not sure that this has been the best advert for his work, but it is meant to be, honest.

 

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