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[Comments] (3) : Neal Stephenson defends the endings of his books from ending-naysayers like myself by saying that his endings are written to conform to his ideas of a good ending, not ours. Okay, fair enough. He's the writer. But that leaves unanswered the question: what is his idea of a good ending?

If we can learn to take Stephenson's works on their own terms, our appreciation of them can only be enhanced. But his aesthetics are in this respect foreign to mine, or there wouldn't be a problem (this is especially bizarre because in most other respects his aesthetics are aligned with mine). So what is the deal?

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Posted by Brendan at Tue Sep 21 2004 00:04

Stephenson actually wrote and tested his ending-creation algorithm for The Big U, and it works perfectly well in that context. Unfortunately, he has yet to realize that he accidentally hard-coded one of the array indices (instead of using the iteration variable). This is why the ending of every Neal Stephenson book is "enigmatic character sits and watches something emblematic explode, and also there's water nearby."

Posted by Joe at Tue Sep 21 2004 00:12

I think the whole "can't write an ending" comes from the Diamond Age - most people I know who started it didn't finish it and use the "can't write an ending" argument to justify not finishing.

I thought Zodiac & Cryptonomicon finished quite well and the story was pretty much finished with Snow Crash too.

Posted by Leonard at Tue Sep 21 2004 00:29

I finished The Diamond Age, but I'm not sure if Stephenson did. <--See, I can't stop!

Still haven't finished Snow Crash, to my shame. I've given my opinion of the endings of all the other books in some NYCB comment or other. Tonight or tomorrow I'll finish The Confusion and post about that, though it's the second book of a trilogy so I don't expect it to have a blockbuster ending.

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