Cover by Michael Parkes
Neal Stephenson was born on October 31, 1959.
Stephenson won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1996 for The Diamond Age and the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2004 for Quicksilver. His novel Snow Crash won the Prix Ozone, the Ignotus Award, and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. Stephenson’s novel Seveneves won the Kurd Lasswitz Preis and the Prometheus Award. Stephenson has also won the Prometheus Award for The System of the World and Cryptonomicon.
“Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of ‘Tribes of the Pacific Coast’” is one of Stephenson’s few short stories and it originally appeared in Full Spectrum 5, edited by Jennifer Hershey, Tom Dupree, and Janna Silverstein in 1995. The story was reprinted in Steampunk, edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. It has not, otherwise, been reprinted.
The opening of “Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of ‘Tribes of the Pacific Coast’” has the feel of David McCauley’s Motel of the Mysteries, with a group of men in the ruins of an ancient shopping mall. However, while Stephenson seems to signal that the expedition will explore the mall and come to erroneous conclusions about twentieth century culture, the story itself is quite different.