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All of Neal Stephenson’s Books in Order!
Who is Neal Stephenson?
Neal Stephenson is an American writer who is known for writing in different genres, from cyberpunk to historical fiction, developing in his novels elaborate plots full of detail, complex characters, and exploring numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time.
He can be credited for coining the term Metaverse in his breakthrough novel, Snow Crash, a cyberpunk story first published in 1992. After that, he wrote thrillers, science-fiction novels, The Baroque Cycle – a series of historical novels set in the 17th and 18th centuries -, a collection of essays, and lately a climate fiction novel about solar geoengineering titled Termination Shock.
How to read Neal Stephenson’s Books in Order?
The Baroque Cycle
- Quicksilver (2003) -It is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight. It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of “Half-Cocked Jack” Shaftoe — London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds — risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox. And it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.
- The Confusion (2004) – In the year 1689, a cabal of Barbary galley slaves — including one Jack Shaftoe, aka King of the Vagabonds, aka Half-Cocked Jack — devises a daring plan to win freedom and fortune. In Europe, the exquisite and resourceful Eliza, Countess de la Zeur, is stripped of her immense personal fortune by France’s most dashing privateer. Penniless and at risk from those who desire either her or her head (or both), she is caught up in a web of international intrigue, even as she desperately seeks the return of her most precious possession.
- The System of the World (2004) – The world is a most confused and unsteady place — especially London, center of finance, innovation, and conspiracy — in the year 1714, when Daniel Waterhouse makes his less-than-triumphant return to England’s shores. Aging Puritan and Natural Philosopher, confidant of the high and mighty and contemporary of the most brilliant minds of the age, he has braved the merciless sea and an assault by the infamous pirate Blackbeard to help mend the rift between two adversarial geniuses at a princess’s behest. But while much has changed outwardly, the duplicity and danger that once drove Daniel to the American Colonies is still coin of the British realm. No sooner has Daniel set foot on his homeland when he is embroiled in a dark conflict that has been raging in the shadows for decades.
- The Big U (1984) – The American Megaversity is a normal American college … just bigger. Much larger. Hundreds of thousands of students doing their daily activities are housed in the Arkolog-like building: political gatherings, demonstrations, lectures, parties … everything goes its way. But how does it happen in this idyll that a student is bitten to death by mutant rats during a harmless play in the sewers of the university? And what about the strange men in airtight protective suits, carrying barrels of unknown content through the deepest basements of the building complex?
- Zodiac (1988) – Meet Sangamon Taylor, a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil—all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor’s house is bombed, his every move followed, he’s adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI’s most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate. Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roommate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party.
- Snow Crash (1992) – In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.
- Interface (1994) – Written with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury.” 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.
- The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995) – Decades into our future, a stone’s throw from the ancient city of Shanghai, a brilliant nanotechnologist named John Percival Hackworth has just broken the rigorous moral code of his tribe, the powerful neo-Victorians. He’s made an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive device called A Young Ladys Illustrated Primer Commissioned by an eccentric duke for his grandchild, stolen for Hackworth’s own daughter, the Primer’s purpose is to educate and raise a girl capable of thinking for herself. It performs its function superbly. Unfortunately for Hackworth, his smuggled copy has fallen into the wrong hands.
- The Cobweb (1996) – Written with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury.” When a foreign exchange student is found murdered at an Iowa University, Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks finds that his investigation extends far beyond the small college town—all the way to the Middle East. Shady events at the school reveal that a powerful department is using federal grant money for highly dubious research. And what it’s producing is a very nasty bug. Navigating a plot that leads from his own backyard to Washington, D.C., to the Gulf, where his Army Reservist wife has been called to duty, Banks realizes he may be the only person who can stop the wholesale slaughtering of thousands of Americans. It’s a lesson in foreign policy he’ll never forget.
- Cryptonomicon (1999) – In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. The mission is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy’s fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces. Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse’s crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a “data haven” in Southeast Asia. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe’s tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat.
- Anathem (2008) – Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside “saecular” world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls. Three times during history’s darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside — the Extramuros — for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago. Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent’s gates — at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious “extras” in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn’t seen since he was “collected.” But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.
- Reamde (2011) – Four decades ago, Richard Forthrast fled to a wild and lonely mountainous corner of British Columbia to avoid the draft. Smuggling backpack loads of high-grade marijuana across the border into Northern Idaho, he quickly amassed an enormous and illegal fortune. With plenty of time and money to burn, he became addicted to an online fantasy game in which opposing factions battle for power and treasure in a vast cyber realm. For Richard, the game was the perfect opportunity to launder his aging hundred dollar bills and begin his own high-tech start-up—a venture that has morphed into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Corporation 9592, with its own super successful online role-playing game, T’Rain. But the line between fantasy and reality becomes dangerously blurred when a young gold farmer accidentally triggers a virtual war for dominance—and Richard is caught at the center.
- Seveneves (2015) – A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . . Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.
- The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (2017) with Nicole Galland – When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidentally meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time.
- Nicole Galland wrote a sequel: Master of the Revels.
- Fall; or, Dodge in Hell (2019) – (contains characters from Reamde, Cryptonomicon, and other books) In his youth, Richard “Dodge” Forthrast founded Corporation 9592, a gaming company that made him a multibillionaire. Now in his middle years, Dodge appreciates his comfortable, unencumbered life, managing his myriad business interests, and spending time with his beloved niece Zula and her young daughter, Sophia. One beautiful autumn day, while he undergoes a routine medical procedure, something goes irrevocably wrong. Dodge is pronounced brain dead and put on life support, leaving his stunned family and close friends with difficult decisions. Long ago, when a much younger Dodge drew up his will, he directed that his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by enigmatic tech entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd. Legally bound to follow the directive despite their misgivings, Dodge’s family has his brain scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud, until it can eventually be revived. In the coming years, technology allows Dodge’s brain to be turned back on. It is an achievement that is nothing less than the disruption of death itself. An eternal afterlife—the Bitworld—is created, in which humans continue to exist as digital souls. But this brave new immortal world is not the Utopia it might first seem . . .
- New Found Land: The Long Haul (2021) with Austin Grossman and Sean Stewart. Audible Original audiobook. – In Florida, assassins are hunting down optical scientist Felicia Scurry. Her only chance of survival lies with long haul trucker Bucephalus Troy, who has stumbled into a world he calls Bamalot, a swords and sorcery version of today where magic works and science never happened. In Seattle, YouTube blogger Charity Kong is on the trail of a jetpack-wearing secret agent who broke her heart. And in a sinister secret college deep under Oxford, a failed comic book artist just might have started a Three Worlds War.
- Termination Shock (2021) – One man – visionary billionaire restaurant chain magnate T. R. Schmidt, PhD – has a Big Idea for reversing global warming, a master plan perhaps best described as “elemental”. But will it work? And just as important, what are the consequences for the planet and all of humanity should it be applied?
- In the Beginning…Was the Command Line (1999) – This is “the Word” — one man’s word, certainly — about the art (and artifice) of the state of our computer-centric existence. And considering that the “one man” is Neal Stephenson, “the hacker Hemingway” (Newsweek) — acclaimed novelist, pragmatist, seer, nerd-friendly philosopher, and nationally bestselling author of groundbreaking literary works (Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, etc., etc.) — the word is well worth hearing. Mostly well-reasoned examination and partial rant, Stephenson’s In the Beginning… was the Command Line is a thoughtful, irreverent, hilarious treatise on the cyber-culture past and present; on operating system tyrannies and downloaded popular revolutions; on the Internet, Disney World, Big Bangs, not to mention the meaning of life itself.
- Some Remarks (2012) – an enthralling collection of essays—Stephenson’s first nonfiction work since his long essay on technology, In the Beginning…Was the Command Line, more than a decade ago—as well as new and previously published short writings both fiction and non.
If you like Neal Stephenson, you may also want to check out our guide to Richard K. Morgan’s books. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.