Stephenson's command of character and stylistic nuance has grown captivatingly stronger, and he now offers startling new ideas in virtually every paragraph. With breathtaking vision and insight, Stephenson establishes himself as not only a major voice in contemporary science fiction, but also a prophet of technology's future. Decades into the future, John Percival Hackworth, cultured nanotech engineer risks the censure of his neo-Victorian social class, or tribe, when he forges an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive book called A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer for his daughter Fiona.
The primer is actually a super computer built with nanotechnology that was designed to educate Lord Finkle-McGraw's daughter. With the unprecedented power to single-handedly educate its reader, the primer is designed to shape the values and maintain the superiority of the dominant tribe by teaching young girls how to think for themselves in that stifling neo-Victorian society.