Neal Stephenson is a best-selling author, futurist, tech geek and swordsman whose works include Cryptonomicron, Seveneves, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash. He has also co-written several other books and graphic novels which we discuss in this episode. His latest book, Termination Shock goes into depth and detail about Sikh martial arts, which he had to research during the Covid lockdowns.
Of course, Neal’s main claim to fame is that he wrote the preface to my own Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers and Martial Artists.
We cover an enormously wide range of topics in this episode, from fountain pens to working with Jeff Bezos building rockets. If you want to find anything in particular, the timestamps and related links are listed below:
- [03:07] How Neal got into swords. Neal’s club in Seattle is Lonin.
- [08:12] Ellis Amdur and Japanese martial arts.
- [14:31] Bartitsu
- [17:53] Silver and McBane. Note: It was Captain John Godfrey's 1747, A Treatise Upon The Useful Science of Defence, where he said that “The Small-Sword is the Call of Honour, the Back-Sword the Call of Duty.”
- [28:50] Indian Club training
- [37:46] Sword fights in fiction and how to write one
- [43:48] Working with Charles C. Mann on Cimarronin. The Manila Galleons. We mention Da’Mon Stith and episode 23 of this podcast. For the photo of Ellis Amdur sticking an eight foot spear into Neal’s chest, see: https://swordschool.com/podcast/from-katanas-to-creating-the-metaverse-with-neal-stephenson/
- [52:40] Fountain pens
- [55:38] How Neal plots, writes and edits his books, and how he co-writes with another author
- [1:01:09] How Neal’s books changed culture – e.g. influenced the development of the Kindle (see Fiona image here: https://swordschool.com/podcast/from-katanas-to-creating-the-metaverse-with-neal-stephenson/ Fiona is a character in The Diamond Age. Amazon used the codename ‘Fiona’ for their Kindle project.)
- [1:03:47] Working with Jeff Bezos at Blue Origin finding better ways to power space rockets
- [1:14:05] Bullwhips
- [1:15:41] LAMINA1 and building a new open platform for metaverses
- [1:28:28] The best idea Neal hasn’t acted on yet
- [1:32:14] What Neal would do with $1 million to improve historical martial arts
For more information about the host Guy Windsor and his work, as well as transcriptions of all the episodes, check out his website at https://swordschool.com/podcast
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