Neal Stephenson for Non-geeks

I look exactly like a Margaret Atwood fan, and it’s true- I do love Margaret Atwood. My favorite novelist, however, is Neal Stephenson- and apparently I do not look anything like how a Neal Stephenson fan should look (not that anyone has ever been able to enumerate the visual cues they had been responding to when remarking “wow, that’s not at all who I thought you would say.”)

Michael Cera is probably more of what they had in mind- because the quality that makes us love him is the same quality that makes me love the novels of Neal Stephenson: huggable geekiness. It’s rare! Seriously- try to think of any other huggable geek. See?

I don’t know if Neal Stephenson himself is as huggable as his novels. Geeky? Definitely: he’s the son of an engineering professor (who was the son of a physics professor), and he only switched his college major from physics to geography so he could get more time on the mainframe (according to Wikipedia).

His novels however, must be huggable- or I would never get through them, much less enjoy them so much that I would claim them as favorites. This is because I have a deep, dark secret: Neal Stephenson’s novels are way over my head. Such subject matter as Sumerian mythology, nanotechnology, alchemy, numismatics, and the invention of calculus are all quite beyond the ken of this 2.46-GPA-earning Sculpture major.

Admittedly, none of that is very huggable, either- but you know what is? Ng Security Industries Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit #A-367. Ng Security Industries Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit #A-367 is a minor character is Stephenson’s third novel, Snow Crash. Colloquially known as “Rat Things,” Ng Security Industries Semi-Autonomous Guard Units are superfast, super-deadly defensive robots- but they start life as Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Unit #A-367 still loves a girl who was nice to him before his “upgrading,” and when #A-367 finds out that girl is in trouble? I bawled.

How can you not love an author who can make you fall in love with a peripheral-not-even-human-based-cyborg character in the middle of a book you don’t even understand?

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