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Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
April 22, 2003

Prophetic Science Fiction Author Neal Stephenson to Speak at Carnegie Mellon

PITTSBURGH—Best-selling science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, author of "Cryptonomicon" and the cyberpunk classic "Snow Crash," will speak at Carnegie Mellon University at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1, for the Hank Swan Memorial Lecture, which is part of the School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series. Stephenson's lecture, "Work in Progress," will take place at McConomy Auditorium in the University Center.

Newsweek has called Stephenson the "hacker Hemingway." "Snow Crash," published in 1992, is considered a prophetic vision of virtual reality and the unrealized potential of the Internet. Set in a not-too-distant future, the book's hero, Hiro Protagonist, delivers pizza for the Mafia in a United States controlled by corporate city-states. In the virtual reality Metaverse, Hiro is a celebrated computer hacker who battles a deadly synthetic drug that also is a devastating computer virus.

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 said, "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."

Stephenson's book "The Diamond Age" won the Hugo Award. His latest novel, "Crypotonomicon" simultaneously explores the high tech world of Silicon Valley and the efforts of Americans during World War II to crack the Germans' Enigma code. His next work, a series of historical novels entitled "The Baroque Cycle," will begin publication in October with the first volume, "Quicksilver."

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call Jonathan Potts at 412-268-6094.


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