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Stephenson, Neal


Neal Stephenson Neal Town Stephenson issues from a clan of rootless, itinerant hard-science and engineering professors. He comes from a long line of what he calls "propeller heads". His father is a professor of electrical engineering, and his paternal grandfather was a physics professor. His mother worked in a biochemistry lab, and her father was a biochemistry professor. Born on Halloween 1959 in Fort Meade, Maryland - home of the National Security Agency - he grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Ames, Iowa, before attending college in Boston.

He began his higher education as a physics major, then switched to geography when it appeared that this would enable him to scam more free time on his university's mainframe computer. When he graduated and discovered, to his perplexity, that there were no jobs for inexperienced physicist-geographers, he began to look into alternative pursuits such as working on cars, agricultural labour and writing novels.

His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984 and vanished without trace. Zodiac: The Eco-thriller is his second novel. On first coming out in 1988 it quickly developed a cult following among water-pollution-control engineers and was enjoyed, though rarely bought, by many radical environmentalists. The highly successful Snow Crash was written between 1988 and 1991, as the author listened to a great deal of loud, relentless, depressing music.

Snow Crash was followed by the equally successful and winner of the Hugo Award The Diamond Age, and the critically acclaimed Cryptonomicon.

Neal Stephenson has written for Wired and is one of three authors ever to write a fiction piece for Time magazine. Last fall, Avon Books Trade Paperbacks published his essay In the Beginning...Was the Command Line, which The Washington Post called "a new generation's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

Stephenson has been praised for having an almost prophetic vision of the future, and as a respected thinker in this area, he is one of six visiting fellows at Ernst & Young's Center for Business Innovation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Stephenson admits that he runs into people who tell him there are companies in Silicon Valley who are basically throwing his novel Snow Crash on the table and saying, "This is our business plan." MIT Media Lab professor Michael Hawley says, "What Arthur C. Clarke was to a previous generation, Neal Stephenson is to ours. Neal is the kind of genius who puts one jarring idea on every page."

He has recently completed The Baroque Cycle, a trilogy the first volume of which Quicksilver was published 23 September 2003.

Neal Stephenson now resides in a comfortable home in the western hemisphere where he spends his time - when not sidetracked by his computer, rollerblading or parenting - attempting to make a living out of writing novels and the occasional magazine article.

Neal Stephenson's home page at


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