OK, now that I can actually post this on OD, I would like to have a little discussion concerning certain elements of The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.

My first experience with Mr. Stephenson was stumbling upon a copy of The Diamond Age at the university library. While I found the novel enjoyable from beginning to end, there was one aspect that left me puzzled. What I am referring to is, towards the end of the novel, the protagonist Nell is tortured and raped by members of the Fists of Righteous Harmony, the revolutionary Chinese army that sought the expulsion of all foreign barbarians. All I could think of after reading that part was, why? Why did this need to be included? What did it add to Nell's character or the overall plot? To me the answer was simple, nothing. Up until that point, we had seen Nell's transformation from a thete, a classless girl born into an impoverished and abusive household into an educated and independent woman thanks to the aid of the Primer as well as her adopted Neo-Victorian guardian. Then that happened. I sort of understand that it was meant to demonize the Chinese "revolutionaries" but what baffled me was Nell's response. Mainly that there was none. She literally shrugged it off and went on to the novel's not too conclusive ending. So really, to me, the inclusion of a rape scene seems nothing more than a cheap attempt at a shock. Also, in both Snow Crash and Quicksilver(got 800 pages in then stopped, still...) there are these awkward scenes with pirate rape and making light of it. I don't understand this.

One other thing. In Snow Crash, what happened to Raven having a nuke synchronized with his heart? When he was finally killed that little detail was conveniently ignored. Weird.

I would like to hear anyone else's thoughts on this topic. I do like Neal Stephenson but these questions have been bugging me for some time now.

P.S. Who else loves that picture? When I first saw it on the back of Quicksilver I was like -_0