The Diamond Age (Neal Stephenson) - Bantam Books - 1995 - 455 pages

In the 22nd century, scientists have learned how to synthesize large slabs of diamonds to replace glass and other materials.  They have also perfected the Star Trek "replicator" so that nobody ever has to worry about getting food, clothing and other household products.  However, this same scientific community has thrust a new form of pollution ("nanosites") on the population.  The nanosites are everywhere, sometimes in black clouds, and imbedded in your skin and internal organs.  Detectives can learn anything about you by tapping your nanosites or reviewing reports from similar devices in your immediate vicinity.  In spite of this advanced technology, there is also extreme poverty and unrest in the world.  Most of the action in Stephenson's future world takes place in and around Shanghai where caning is still practiced as the primary punishment in a "Confucian" legal system.  Although nobody can ever get away with crime, one super-smart "bespoke" engineer (Hackworth) steals an interactive primer for his daughter (Fiona) but gets mugged by thugs who steal the book and give it to a young girl named Nell.  After the book is stolen, the plot thickens as Hackworth gets lost for ten years in the underworld of the Drummers; Nell gets educated and entertained by her primer; and one "ractor" (professional video story teller, Miranda) tries to find student Nell.  The geopolitical situation in the 22nd century world is very complicated and dangerous.  Read about it at your own risk.  [JAM 9/10/2017]