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Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

The Diamond Age

Categories: [ Books ]

ISBN: 9780553380965

© Amazon.fr

In a future time where Shanghai is a republic independent from the rest of China, where nanotechnologies are commonplace and where simple goods are free and produced through nanotechnologies by machines powered by a proprietary network called the Feed, John Hackworth is bulding for his employer the Primer, a book-like device that can speak and tell stories, aiming to teach Elizabeth, the employer's granddaughter to think outside of the lines of her very strict, asceptic neo-victorian education. Hackworth builds an illegal copy of the Primer for his daughter, Fiona, thanks to the help of a Chinese hacker and gang leader, Dr. X. Soon after receiving the device, he is mugged by a gang of kids, and the Primer ends up in the hands of Nell, a small, poor and uneducated girl. Hackworth is caught by the local justice, who, manipulated by Dr. X, forces him to build more Primers to educate a quarter million small Chinese girls who have been abandonned by their parents due to an economic depression and currently raised by Dr. X's gang. These primers use speech synthesis, contrary to the original Primers, which make use in real time of human actors specialized in interactive plays; in the case of Nell's, the narrator's role all along Nell's childhood is played by Miranda, an actres who has effectively become Nell's mother. Hackworth is then forced by Dr. X to join the Drummers, a secretive tribe who has achieved a collective mind, in a search for the “Alchemist”. During ten years, he thus participates in the collective and although he episodically remembers communicating with Fiona through the Primer by storytelling, but does not know what he has been otherwise doing during this time. Later, he remembers working on the Seed, an open-source form of Feed that would allow China to be independent from the three only Feed providers. In the same time span, Nell gets self-educated through the Primer's pre-programmed interactive stories of Princess Nell and, following the book's advice, soon flees from their home. She is then adopted by the community to which belongs one of her mother's former boyfriend, gets a neo-victorian education, and befriends Elizabeth and Fiona. In the middle of her adolescence, she leaves the school and finds a job as a playwright in an interactive erotic theater. When Shanghai is attacked by fanatics who want to reattach it to the Chinese empire, Nell is joined by her Army of Mice, depicted as such in the Primer's stories of Princess Nell, but actually made of all the orphaned chinese girls raised by Dr. X and their own Primers. They help all the non-Chinese flee from Shanghai. In the end, Nell joins the Drummers in their undersea tunnels and saves Miranda (who had joined the Drummers in the hope of finding Nell through the collective mind) from being killed in the creation the Seed, as a part of the process invented by Hackworth.

[ Posted on July 3rd, 2013 at 18:46 | no comment | ]

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