ASM: “Show, Don’t Tell” Is NOT About Description

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.


The Novice writer begins his story like this:

Ovid lay sprawled across the Bunk. He absently fingered the video remote without ever turning the set on.

“I’m Bored,” He said to no one in particular.

The Intermediate writer, learning the phrase “Show, Don’t Tell” writes something like this:

Ovid sprawled over the ancient, brown Geminon wool blanket he had picked up at an estate sale two years before, when he first got this berth. The frayed duct tape holding the broken seams together scratched and pinched his skin through his worn T-shirt. He absently fingered the universal remote, flipping randomly through the Colonial News feed, infomercials,and a training disk that was spinning in the RCA player for no reason.

“I’m even more bored now,” he sighed to no one in particular, “and I’m even more verbose.”

While more descriptive than the Novice writer, this doesn’t show us any more, and is just as bad. Why? Because “Show Don’t Tell” is not about description.

“Show Don’t Tell” is about Movement. It’s about characterization and dialogue and plot. We still don’t know how bored Ovid is, because the writer has just told us he’s bored without showing it:

Ovid flipped two decks of cards into the wastebasket, one at a time. sixty-two landed face up.

When Writing, watch out for characters who tell us how they’re feeling, and watch out for Poker tells that can have only one meaning. Be a little subtle, a little nuanced. avoid things like:

“I’m angry,” she said, punching the wall.

Well D’uh.

Telling often happens during exposition and narrative summary  in a book. We want to skip over the boring stuff and get back to the action, so we gloss over characters emotions and just tell what’s happening. It’s the written equivalent of “Yada,Yadda.Yadda”, “Anyway” and “To Make a long story short…” The problem is, it too often makes a long story even longer. On the written page, it’s black chunks without dialogue, without changes. it sucks.

What to do about it? What you don’t want to do is sneak in lots of description of things that don’t directly bear on the plot. Show. Don’t tell is not about description.

Take a look at this passage from John W. Campbell‘s The Black Star Passes :

The passengers in the huge plane high above them gave little thought to what passed below, engrossed with their papers or books, or engaged in casual conversation. This monotonous trip was boring to most of them. It seemed a waste of time to spend six good hours in a short 3,500 mile trip. There was nothing to do, nothing to see, except a slowly passing landscape ten miles below. No details could be distinguished, and the steady low throb of the engines, the whirring of the giant propellers, the muffled roar of the air, as it rushed by, combined to form a soothing lullaby of power. It was all right for pleasure seekers and vacationists, but business men were in a hurry.

Ok, He tells us they’re bored. But then he SHOWS us why: The trip is too long, there’s noting to see, the engines are soothing. He takes us there by showing us the boredom. Look again, and you’ll see no description: What does the plane look like? What does the cabin look like? Does it matter to the plot? Would it matter to slow the exposition down to a crawl to describe the plane? You bet it would.

Identifying Telling:

  • Using emotion Words to describe a character:
    • Tigh was Angry
    • Apollo Woke from bad dreams, scared for the future
  • Lack of dialogue or action
    • Usually means you’ve drifted into narrative summary. Check to see if you need to expand it into a scene
  • Unnecessary Description of unneeded details
    • Are you trying to set the mood by describing thins that don’t need to be described?



BTT:Passive Voice was Avoided by the Writer

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.

In Military training there are certain maxims that are ingrained in recruits as inviolable laws:
Incoming Fire has the Right of Way
If it Requires a volunteer…Don’t.
Teamwork is essential. It gives the enemy someone else to shoot at.

For writers, one of the fundamental maxims is “Avoid the passive voice.”

What is passive voice?

Passive voice is simply putting the Object of the sentence at the beginning, where the subject normally is:

  • “The Raider was shot by Starbuck” instead of “Starbuck shot the Raider”.

Passive voice often uses the past participle of the verb with a “To be”. The word “By”is often hanging around to name the real subject. Because of that “Was”, Writes can confuse the past tense with passive voice in fiction. It can also be confused with the uncommon past progressive used when two actions occur in the past:

  • “I was walking down the sidewalk when I saw the dollar bill” is past progressive tense.
  • The sidewalk was walked on by me is just plain awful.

What’s Wrong with Passive Voice:

  • It’s Wordy- In both of the examples above, you can see how passive voice uses more words to say the same thing.
  • It’s Distancing- Passive voice distances your reader from the action.
  • It’s Passive- For Frak’s sake, they put this in the NAME:Sentences written in Passive voice lie there, inert lumps of clay, while the subject sits over in the corner waiting for something to do.

When Is Passive Voice seen?:
You often see Passive voice in two different situations: When you don’t want to have to accept blame and if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Passive voice is often used in student writing and Business writing by writers who aren’t sure of themselves or their subject matter:

  • The report was written by committee. The Errors were included by accident. Responsibility wasn’t taken by anyone in particular.
  • The Battle of the Alamo was fought by Texans. In Texas? They were killed by Santa Ana. Maybe?

Passive voice is also used when the subject is unknown:

  • The Bomb was planted under the bridge sometime after midnight.
  • The Baseball was thrown through the living room window.
  • So you can use passive voice if you don’t want to be blamed for your writing, or if you don’t know what you’re writing about.

How do you eradicate the pernicious threat of Passive Voice?

Be on general alert for the passive voice: It creeps up everywhere. Watch out for the words “Was” and “By” appearing too close together. But there are two areas in your writing you should be especially wary of, Exposition and flashbacks.

  • Fashbacks- If you’re already writing a passage in the past tense, and are now moving to a passage that is “more past,” it is easy to slip into the passive voice.
  • Exposition- Like flashbacks, exposition forces you to step outside the main story and provide info that is not part of the flow of action. And again, this natural distancing can cause you to use the passive voice.

Recognizing Passive Voice:

  • a “to be” verb, (is, was, were) in combination with a past participle of a verb (-ed)
  • Often followed the subject as a participle phrase beginning with “by”

Defending Passive Voice.

A few years ago an article went viral defending the passive voice. after all, it is a valid voice in the English language, and as outlined above it does serve a purpose as a distancing mechanism. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with this advice.

The problem with passive voice is that it is easy and lazy. Most of the time a writer uses passive voice it is not because of a conscious decision to distance the reader from the story, but because it’s a rough draft the writer is not sure about. In very few cases, passive voice might be more appropriate to the scene you’re writing, but most of the tie you want to remove passive constructions.Take the time to fire up Pro Writing Aid or Grammarly and scour your manuscript for passive voice.

BTT: “Grenade!” Tom Exploded Wildly.

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.

Novice writers haven’t changed much in a hundred years. Take this dialogue from Tom Swift and His Giant Cannon:

“I guess Tom’s ears would burn if he could hear your praises, Mr. Damon,” laughed Mr. Swift. “Don’t spoil him.”

“Spoil Tom Swift? You couldn’t do it in a hundred years!” cried Mr. Damon, enthusiastically. “Bless my topknot! Not in a thousand years—no, sir!”

“But where is he?” asked Mr. Peterson, who was evidently unused to the extravagant manner of Mr. Damon.

“There he goes now!” exclaimed the gentleman who frequently blessed himself, some article of his apparel, or some other object.

What’s Wrong with this ?

Well for starters, the Tom swift stories were so full of this kind of dialogue, the term “Tom Swifty” became a parlor game. take these example, which are humorous, but not much worse than what was actually published:

“How much for the William Shatner poster,” Tom said enterprisingly.

“Where are the handcuffs?” Tom said arrestingly.

“I like it when you do that,” Tom ejaculated.

The problem here is that the writer does not trust the simple word “Said.”

“I saw you,” he said.

“I saw you too,” she said.

Then he said, “Well, Didn’t you say anything?”

It gets the job done, but it gets boring. so beginning writers try to dress it up using bigger words and more adverbs. They forget that “Said” is unobtrusive. it’s nearly invisible and for the reader is just a kind of placeholder. Often, It’s not even needed:

“I saw you.”

“I saw you too.”

“Well, Didn’t you say anything?”

Again, It’s banal, but between two characters it’s easy to tell who said what. If your characters have something to actually say, you can keep track of them other ways too, like this passage from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s A Door Through Space (1961):

But only a minute. Then one of the mob yelled, “We’ll go if you give’m to us! He’s no right to Terran sanctuary!”

I walked over to the huddled dwarf, miserably trying to make himself smaller against the wall. I nudged him with my foot.

“Get up. Who are you?”

The hood fell away from his face as he twitched to his feet. He was trembling violently. In the shadow of the hood I saw a furred face, a quivering velvety muzzle, and great soft golden eyes which held intelligence and terror.

“What have you done? Can’t you talk?”

He held out the tray which he had shielded under his cloak, an ordinary peddler’s tray. “Toys. Sell toys. Children. You got’m?”

I shook my head and pushed the creature away, with only a glance at the array of delicately crafted manikins, tiny animals, prisms and crystal whirligigs. “You’d better get out of here. Scram. Down that street.” I pointed.

A voice from the crowd shouted again, and it had a very ugly sound. “He is a spy of Nebran!”

Look at what Bradley does here. Not a single said, but it’s easy to tell who’s saying what through the use of action and dialect. Keep the Tom Swifites out of it.


ASM: Turkey City Lexicon

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.

Just like the military, Fiction writers use a specialized language born out of a need to accurately and succinctly describe situations in a hostile and changing environment. Enter the Turkey City Lexicon for years. Growing out of a science fiction writer’s group in Austin, Texas, it’s an invaluable resource for all writers.

It’s a collection of humorous writing tips, apt names for writing errors and a kind of secret handshake for writers all rolled into one.

For Example:

  • The Kitchen-Sink StoryA story overwhelmed by the inclusion of any and every new idea that occurs to the author in the process of writing it. (Attr. Damon Knight)
  • And plotPicaresque plot in which this happens, and then that happens, and then something else happens, and it all adds up to nothing in particular.
  • Eyeball KickVivid, telling details that create a kaleidoscopic effect of swarming visual imagery against a baroquely elaborate SF background. One ideal of cyberpunk SF was to create a “crammed prose” full of “eyeball kicks.” (Attr. Rudy Rucker)

And it’s now been released to the public at the SFWA website.

Learn these terms. Use them wisely and you’ll get more out of your writing workshop. The other writers wil no exactly what you mean by an “As you know,Bob” passage and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.

Which, of course is half the battle.

BTT: Apostrophes, Possessives and Pronouns, OH MY!

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.


It’s a writer’s easiest mistake to make. You write one wrong word, followed by another, followed by yet another. And spellcheck doesn’t catch any of them. You proofread it, your eyes skimming over the mistake and hit send. Shortly after, you get yet another rejection letter, making fun of your heritage, your education and your dreams. You read your work, the tears swelling up, your vision blurring, and you see this:

The Cylon’s saw there prey over their, they’re spines glowing in anticipation.

Ok, You deserved that one. Have a good cry.

Look, It’s easy. Apostrophe’s do two things in the English language:

  • Show Possession
  • Show Contractions

The Problem is they can’t do both at the same time

Apostrophes Show Possession

If the noun doesn’t end in s, add ‘s, regardless of plurality

Baltar’s demons

The Cylon’s Basestar

The men’s triangle team

If the word ends in s, usually add just the apostrophe. Some style guides do show ‘s for words ending in s, as that’s the way they’re still pronounced. Sorry, this is still in flux

Gaius’ fantasy

Pilots’ Vipers (Pilots’s Vipers? Nahh…)

Compound words and joint ownership put the ‘s at the ery end of the bunch of nouns:

Commander-in-Chief’s quarters

Starbuck and Apollo’s relationship

Six and Gaius’ destiny

Personal pronouns do not have the apostrophe : Indefinite pronouns do.

His, Her (hers), Your (Yours), Their (Theirs), Its

Everybody’s home planet


While we’re on the subject, here’s where we start having problems. The apostrophe can contract “Is” and “are” down so they sound the same as the possessives:

Everybody’s home planet

Everybody’s going home

This leads to all kinds of homophones in English:

It’s looking at its former body.

They’re standing over there next to their ships.

You’re not getting your weapon back.

And in the heat of battle, typing away at your desk, it’s easy to miss these small mistakes. But editors, who are looking for any way they can to cull their paperwork, see these small, common mistakes, they make the snap decision that you are a small, common writer.

Go ahead, have that cry.

BTT:Focus On POV: Point of View

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Image via Wikipedia

The following originally appeared on my Defunct Blog, Battlestar Grammactica. It was intended to be a Science Fiction and writing blog, but never took off (ha!). It is reprinted here as I shut down the other site.


Obi Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil.
Darth Vader: From my point of view, The Jedi are Evil!
Obi Wan: Well…Then you are lost.

Revenge of the Sith

Point of View is one of those basic things that writers understand is important, recite back to you, post on the wall, and then ignore in the heat of the moment while drafting. The rules of Point of view are simple:

  • Pick one POV and Stick with it to avoid confusing your readers.
  • If you must have multiple POV, make it clear where one POV ends and another begins.

What is POV?

POV is related to your narrative voice as the author. If you think of your main character as your viewppoint character, POV tells us how closely the narrator (That’s your role) is following that character around. Luckily, their are only five main POVs worth worrying about:

First Person:

The first person POV is the closest to the viewpoint character : It’s their story told by them using “I” and “Me”. The author is pretending to be his main character, and letting us in on their thoughts and emotions. It’s the most immediate POV and instantly brings us into the world of the story. A lot of classic Science Fiction is written in this POV- Wells, Verne, Burroughs- they all used the immediacy of someone telling this amazing tale to give their fantastic stories veracity. However, it can be limiting. Your character cannot know the motives, thoughts or emotions of the other characters. If you have a grand, sweeping war story to tell,you’re limiting yourself to one small part of the action. Not that this hasn’t been done before:

All this time I saw no human beings, and no signs of the Martians.
I encountered a couple of hungry-looking dogs, but both hurried
circuitously away from the advances I made them. Near Roehampton I had seen two human skeletons–not bodies, but skeletons, picked clean–and in the wood by me I found the crushed and scattered bones of several cats and rabbits and the skull of a sheep. But though I gnawed parts of these in my mouth, there was nothing to be got from
them.    — H.G. Wells”The War of the Worlds

Second Person:

The second person is tricky. It is seldom used, although science fiction readers probably remember it from the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. In the Second Person POV, the narrator directly addresses the reader as the main character. “You do this and You Feel That,” the narrator says. “Oh Yeah?” you respond. There have been a few successful books written in the second person, notably “Bright Lights, Big City” and “A Prayer for the Dying,” but second person works better for short forms: Stories or connective passages:

You sink down and muffle your head in the clothes, shivering all the while, but less from bodily chill, than the bare idea of a polar atmosphere. It is too cold even for the thoughts to venture abroad. You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction, and drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth, such as you now feel again. Ah! that idea has brought a hideous one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their cold shrouds and narrow coffins, through the drear winter of the grave, and cannot persuade your fancy that they neither shrink nor shiver, when the snow is drifting over their little hillocks, and the bitter blast howls against the door of the tomb.—Nathaniel Hawthorne “The Haunted Mind”

Third Person Limited:

In the third person limited, the narrator follows the viewpoint character around from somewhere over their right shoulder, kind of like their guardian angel. The Narrator knows what they are thinking and doing, and can notice things that the viewpoint character might miss, but is still attached to them. Important plot points can happen offstage, other characters can have hidden motives and feelings, but we’ve put a little distance between the reader and the character and can get a little larger picture:

He heard shouting, quarreling voices, but nothing made sense through the
haze of his agony. He felt someone grab at him–more than one person–and they were dragging him willy-nilly across the ground. Something was clutched around his throat, almost choking him. He opened his eyes just as something clicked behind him.  —Lester Del Rey “The Sky is Falling”

Third Person Objective:

A little farther out, and we’ve lost the psychic connection we had with our viewpoint character. Third person objective is still focused on the viewpoint character, but now our narrator can no longer see inside that character’s mind. This POV is journalistic and cinematic. the author can spend time on description and action.

Manning waited for him to finish, then he turned back to the rest of the men in the room and spread his hands. “Now that, gentlemen, just shows how much weâ’ve found out so far.”

 He looked over at Rynason again.

“Has it occurred to you, Lee, that if these horses are the Outsiders, that maybe they know a little more than we do? I suppose you’re going to say you had a telepathic hookup with one of them and you didn’t see a thing to make you suspicious ; but just remember that they’ve been using telepathy for several thousand years and that you hardly know what you’re doing when you try it. —Terry Carr, “Warlord of Kor”

Third Person Omniscient:

And finally, farther out, we have the narrator as God. Third person omniscient is just that: The narrator can switch characters, knowing all thoughts and feelings. He can view things away from any characters, knows what’s happening on the far side of the world. While this POV gives the author the most leeway, it can be confusing to the reader. Perhaps it’s best to narrow your scope a little?

Jellico, with Van Rycke at his shoulder, halted before he stepped from the ramp so that the three Inter-Solar men, Captain, Cargo-master and  escort, whether they wished or no, were put in the disadvantageous position of having to look up to a Captain whom they, as members of one of the powerful Companies, affected to despise. The lean, well muscled,  trim figure of the Queen’s commander gave the impression of hard bitten force held in check by will control, just as his face under its thick layer of space burn was that of an adventurer accustomed to make split second decisions–an estimate underlined by that seam of blaster burn across one flat cheek. —Andre Norton “The Plague Ship”

Which should I use?

Well, That all depends on you. Each POV has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Generally, the wider the POV, the less connection with the main character. Each story has a unique POV that suits it best. A war story can have either a first person POV, in which we’re stuck in the mud with the main character, or an omniscient POV where we can see the generals make their errors, the politicians bicker, and our characters suffer.

The main thing is to try to stick to one. Switching point of view is confusing to the reader. The narrator becomes a character, and changing narrators is like changing characters:

I had thought that Ben had the egg, but he didn’t. Instead the Dark Lord, high in his obsidian castle, chuckled to himself as he stoked the velvet shell. Ben was scared that i would find out, of course, but I hadn’t yet and if he kept up the ruse, there was a chance that he would get my egg back from you.

Huh? I guess I know what I was trying to say there. But it’s hard to follow. If you have to change POV, Do it on a chapter or page break, and let the audience know the POV is Changing: Go from first to third, go to a character we haven’t visited before, do something that let’ss us know something fundamental has changed about how we view this world.

Which one’s right for your story?

It all depends on your point of view.

Review: SevenEves by Neal Stephenson

Near Classic Marred by Flawed Second Act


I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson. Right now, on a place of honor above my desk are hardback editions of “Cryptonomicon”, The Baroque Cycle, “Anathem” and “Reamde”. I have paperbacks of “The Diamond Age” and ” In the beginning… was the Command Line”. I’m only missing “Snow Crash” because it was stolen a few years ago and I’ve never got around to replacing it.

So I was excited to read his latest, “Seveneves”, even though it was getting split reviews. It took me a long time to power through it, and I almost bounced off it several times, but finished it recently and am glad I did. “Seveneves” is not an easy read (Stephenson never is), and it isn’t his best work, but it is a fun and thoughtful exploration of a concept. The biggest issue I had with it was the problematic second act.

The Story So Far…

“Seveneves”, pronounced as “Seven Eves”, is split into three roughly equal acts. As you are probably aware of by now, they first two sections tell the story of “The Epic”: The moon is destroyed by some natural, cataclysmic event, setting off a chain reaction that will result in the bombardment and destruction of the Earth.

In the first Section, Mankind Realizes that the Earth is doomed, and sets about building an Ark to preserve whatever it can of the Human Race. The action is centered on the ISS, here called Isis, and the crew that finds itself in the position of shepherding the construction of a cloud of habitats in a race against time as the moon slowly disintegrates, eventually causing The Hard Rain on Earth.

This section is the best of the novel, introducing Several interesting characters, including Ivy, a mining engineer on Isis and the focal character of the first part of the book as she programs the swarms of robots that will eventually help save humanity.  She  is in contact with her mining family on Earth through a jury-rigged Morse Code Ham Radio setup.

Doc “Doobie” DuBois, a Neil Degrasse Tyson analogue, ends up traveling the doomed world, collecting “Arkies” and artifacts selected from different cultures to be transferred to the orbiting Arks before he himself ends up on Isis to report progress back to Earth. With its focus on the hard science of orbital mechanics and technological derring-do, this part hearkens back to the classic science fiction competence porn of the past, and is an engineers wet dream.

But even this section has flaws. Doc DuBois’ mission is part rescue, part PR, and part pacification, but we never really see how the impending disaster plays out on Earth. There are scenes of heroism, mass panic and more on Earth, but they are only relayed to the Ark through heavily managed and censored media channels. Yet, there are hints of political tensions and conflict that are not explored in this section, but come into play in the disappointing second.

It’s the End of The World as We Know It…(Spoilers)

So the Hard Rain comes, the Earth is destroyed in Fire, and the weakest third of the book starts. The plan for survival is twofold: Isis is protected from impact by a massive asteroid tied to its front end. It is to be the main ark: Protecting critical technological systems and acting as a hub. Trailing behind it are the Arks: small space habitats than can be linked and unlinked in myriad combos. This is where the majority of humanity is too live. Small communities can be almost self sufficient, if everything goes right, ensuring the future of the human race.

Can you guess what happens?

Political pressures from Dead Earth, stowaways, natural disaster, rebellion and war, even cannibalism ensue. Part Two of “Seveneves” is just a race to get to the Seven Eves… the last Seven fertile women who are the progenitors of the New Human Races.  And I had a lot of problems with this part.

First, the previously competent Engineers from Part One are now blithering idiots. They are completely blindsided by the political pressures in the Ark Community. Then with all the disasters happening around them, it’s a race to see who can die first, and most heroically. Should I ram myself into an Asteroid, Walk into a Nuclear Reactor, or go into space without a helmet? I Know, I’ll hold off the cannibalistic rebels! Oh, and the vast majority of survivors die “offscreen” as it were, in a war among themselves.

But the worst part is the Council of the Seven Eves. We are not properly introduced to about half of them, and the ones that we knew from the first section seem too old to be the mothers of the new races. One was the President of the United States, and much was made of her meteoric rise to power and young age, and she is the one with the least children, but it defies suspension of disbelief. Also, it seems unnecessary for all men to die before the council… I’m not saying men are needed, since they can clone themselves, but it just seems unnecessary, even in the world Stephenson is creating.

Welcome to the New Earth, Same as the Old Earth

So We’ve had an old fashioned hard science adventure, a deeply flawed disaster movie, and now we come to the third act, a far future magic-tech travelogue.

Set 5,000 years after the earlier events ( now known as The Epic), we are introduced to a resurgent humanity. Mankind now lives in a ring of habitats made from the remnants of the moon and orbiting the Earth. They’ve been terraforming the blasted planet, re-introducing flora a fauna and beginning to resettle the Globe. This part is fascinating for its look at far future, re-claimed tech. There are many fantastical elements: Cyborg gliders, Tethered Cities that land on Earth and take off again, Post-Human Neanderthals, and a mystery that really isn’t mysterious at all.

This last part of the book almost, but not quite redeems the rest. I know a lot of critics seem to be hung up on the jump, but it makes sense. And it informs the previous sections, too. While the characters of the Epic had their every movement and conversation recorded, the post-humans of the year+5,000 have interpreted it their own way. There are a few places (Tav) where what they think they saw isn’t what we would have thought we saw. In this context, the lack of the expected Earth based stories from part one makes sense. Of course all that data was lost, so it’s not part of the epic and not part of humanity’s shared collective memory.

It makes sense in the world of “Seveneves” for there to be gaps in the second part of the story: That is the part where there is the most damage to the data, the most violence and the most loss.  It’s another thing to have to try to fill in those gaps as you’re reading the story. While reading it, I kept wanting more, kept getting frustrated at the parts I was missing. By the time I realized what Stephenson was doing, he had almost lost me.