I don't get why you're so defensive about cyberpunk, if you want to play this game of making someone seem overly emotional when they argue a point of view different from yours. The reasons why you like or dislike something matter, even if they are just staking out a waypoint en route way the hell away from where we started. These are terrible arguments. Who said anything about love? We're talking about fundamentally understanding the book on the terms it lays out quite explicitly versus thinking Paul Verhoeven set out to make the most sincere transfer of Starship Troopers to film possible. Why would it be unusual for someone who likes science fiction to dislike something that was, at its root, a fantasy story? I don't know what Star Blazers is, but I bet it's one of those times when you are freely conflating by-the-numbers pulp garbage with actual writing, and not seeing why that distinction matters. Well, and I think you're in a pretty tough spot in terms of assessing the quality of his writing, given that you have a tin ear for parody and ideological reasons for ignoring satire as purposeful. Wherein you force me to write a defense of Neal Stephenson So I didn't read Stephenson as a teenager, I read him as an adult. I started with the Diamond Age and then Cryptonomicon, and then stalled out for a bit. And now, reading Snow Crash, I am actually reminded a great deal of an unpleasant conversation about Hemingway last year. That is, you can dislike books that Neal Stephenson writes. You can dislike Neal Stephenson as a writer. These are not controversial things to say, and as you explain your criteria, more than likely people will just nod or express their counter-opinions and move on. But you can't arbitrarily lump him in with people who don't actually know the first thing about writing. Or, rather, you can, but it means you just don't get it. He is, apart from the act of putting words on a page, doing something altogether different from R.A. Salvatore or Weis/Hicks or the sweatshop at the root of the Hardy Boys or whatever bestseller mass-market erotica is clogging up kindles all over the place. Those are illiterate books written for people who confuse the act of seeing words with their eyes in order to pass the time with reading, in much the same way that people confuse accumulating facts with being educated. Then I look at your specific criticisms. Incoherent. Doubting that it is purposeful parody. Incoherent. Like badly done Mystery Science Theater, as if such a thing could be well done. Incoherent. These sound like pretty simple descriptive terms, but they don't make sense. For instance, Stephenson is rigorously coherent. If you don't see one of the base layers as parody, you're going to have a bad time because you need to be able to meta-follow as well as follow forms in order to enjoy it. If you can't switch between parody and satire and meta-characterization and philosophy riddles and sci fi, then you're just reading in one gear as a passive experience. That doesn't make you dumb, it just means that you're doing something altogether different with the work when you read it like that Shadowrun novel you read [back in high school]. Which brings me back to Hemingway. You can say you don't like what he does, but it's an altogether different tier of bullshitting to tell me he's a bad writer. I don't think a movie that I have specific criticisms x,y,z of makes Kathryn Bigelow a bad director, or even an overrated one. Quite clearly, I have problems with her, but also quite clearly, I am letting the actual hacks who make hacky war-like movies slip past because they are not working on the level of an artist but rather a student film gone horribly overfunded or some other variant of shit on a bigger stage than it merits. Hemingway wrote great first works, but his first big splash is easy to mark above them. Bigelow made great first works, and in fact I have no frame of reference for what came before. Neal Stephenson did have a training wheels period, it seems, but Snow Crash was at the tail end of it, not its start. And that's plainly apparent if you read it with an eye to quality rather than by counting the rivets in his cyber samurai and finding them lacking. Because here's the thing. Sci fi, like most other specialized genres with a fervent sub-audience, is short on good writers. Many people who can't write worth a damn but have one or two good ideas are the top end of the genre. Some people combine really good work in writing and really good ideas and still stumble, like Peter Watts. Some people do pure writing that are only incidentally sci fi, like Colson Whitehead, and they also stumble in that intersection sometimes. Because it's really hard to do, and, not coincidentally, craft and hard work are only part of the equation for most writers so later works don't always mean better. So the person interested in sci fi sometimes feels like they have two choices: be uncritical consumers comfortable with attaching caveats of "I know it's terrible but" to the vast majority of their preferred works, or enshrining the durable works on a sacred pedestal on the basis of popularity in their subculture identity group/time alone and then arbitrarily attaching or attacking what catches their eyes around these preferred icons as the axes of their worlds. I get that, I really do. But Stephenson can write, dammit, and stumbling is not the same as never trying to write.