At first I didn’t like Neal Stephenson’s “Diamond Age” (1995)—mainly because of Bud. Mainly because of his straightforward dumbness and naïveté. My fear was that I had to follow this guy through 500 pages. Within “Cryptonomicon” (1999) Bobby Shaftoe was such a character, whose fate literally made me cry. But this Bud … then things began to change and Bud had to encounter Judge Fang, who sentenced him to a timely fate. Judge Fang is my friend. Not simply because he had Bud executed, but because his deeply cultured personality, which made me undust my Chinese teaching-books. Really. Please read this excerpt, describing how ↑Judge Fang receives a letter from Dr. X, and you’ll know what I mean.