->''"Tenuring and tenuring in the ivory tower!''
->''The flagon cannot fill the flagoneers.''
->''Krupp cuts a fart! The sphinxter cannot hold''
->''Dear academe, our Lusitania, recoils."''
-->--'''Bert Nix''', paraphrasing William Butler Yeats

''The Big U'', Creator/NealStephenson's first novel, is a satire of American college life focusing on the fictitious American Megaversity, somewhere in a stretch of quasi-urban sprawl, and its gradual slide towards apocalyptic destruction.

Not to be confused with ''Anime/TheBigO''.
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!!Tropes:
* AbhorrentAdmirer: Fred Fine to Sarah
* [[spoiler: Attempted Rape: The Terrorist leader tries to assault Sarah, but her girlfriend, wearing a clown costume, shoots him first.]]
* {{Bizarrchitecture}}: The protagonists theorize at one point that the architecture of the Plex is slowly [[AlienGeometries driving everyone insane]]. What's certain is that its natural resonating frequency matches the frequency of Klein's music, making the entire building vibrate whenever he turns on his stereo.
* BlackAndNerdy: Professor Bud, our narrator.
* CargoCult: The Terrorists' acid-induced worship of the Big Wheel and its avatar, Fenrick's Go Big Red Fan.
* ChekhovsGun: The building's aforementioned resonating frequency, which ultimately allows [[spoiler:Klein and Bert Nix to destroy the Plex once and for all by playing the organ]].
* CoolOldGuy: Bert Nix, the Megaversity's resident eccentric bum.
* DeanBitterman: DoubleSubverted. Septimus Severus Krupp is presented initially as a conservative and authoritarian dean who makes life hell for the students. However, when he finally appears to the protagonists, he seems quite the ReasonableAuthorityFigure, a bulwark against the rowdy Stalinists...[[spoiler:at least, until it's revealed that he's been using the school as a nuclear waste storage facility]].
* DirtyCommies: The Stalinist Unity Battalion.
* EscalatingWar: Klein and Fenrick's stereo battles, which get more and more dramatic, ultimately culminating in [[spoiler:Fenrick's death and the accidental creation of a race of mutant rats]].
* GeekPhysiques: Both Casimir and Fred Fine are the "unhealthily skinny" kind.
* HippieTeacher: Professor Embers, who will happily award an A for an eight-sentence analytical essay riddled with grammatical errors since the author has "escaped orthodoxy."
--> A grade is actually a form of poetry. It is a subjective reaction to a learner's work, distilled and reduced down to its purest essence not a sonnet, not a haiku, but a single letter.
* MindScrew: Is this really a campus? Or is it the mystical Plexus? Does magic truly exist here?
* MoodWhiplash: The Terrorists' [[spoiler:attempted rape of Sarah]] is pretty jarring, coming as it does in the midst of a relatively lighthearted satirical novel.
* PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad: A key element of the SUB's platform.
* {{Ruritania}}: The janitorial staff are all immigrants from the [[CommieLand People's Free Existence Node of Crotobaltislavonia]].
* ThisIsMySide: Part of Klein and Fenrick's EscalatingWar.
* ScienceHero: The protagonists are mostly hard science majors, and end up using their technical skills to combat an alliance of loony leftists and drunken cultist fratboys in a very bizarre example of RomanticismVersusEnlightenment.
* StrawmanU: The novel manages to avoid either extreme version of Strawman U, but the SUB and the unionized professors would fit in well at a Berserkeley, and the administration and Temple of Unlimited Godhead (a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot) are close to a Jim Jonestown.
* WackyFratboyHijinx: The Terrorists's antics are a surprisingly terrifying example.
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