The Diamond Age is the story of the education of a girl amongst a clash of cultures in a world where nanotechnology is commonplace.
The question arises of how to prevent stagnation of the Neo-Victorian society, which has succeeded in becoming the most foremost economic power in the world now that Nation States no longer exist.
The fear is that stagnation will occur due to the rigidness and conformity that is fostered by the Victorian principles. The answer that Lord Finkle-McGraw a prominent Victorian citizen comes to is to encourage subversion.
A thriving society needs the input of people that think for themselves and disagree with the status quo so that they are filled with a passion to change things for the better. Subversion is the key as people that either conform to or rebel against the principles of that society cannot do this.
Finkle-McGraw's solution is to give his granddaughter a present that can teach her to think for herself and question those around her.
Set in a futuristic region of coastal China where the wealthy Neo-Victorians live upon the hill overlooking the city where the Thete underclass live. The nanotechnologist John Hackworth has just unwittingly set off a chain of events by making an illicit copy of the state-of-the-art interactive device he was commissioned to make by Finkle-McGraw. The device 'A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer' has been lost by Hackworth and found its way into the hands of a young Thete girl named Nell.
The events of the novel culminate in an uprising in what was once China that parallels that of the Boxer Rebellion that occurred during the original Victorian era.
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