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Neal Stephenson’s Ground-breaking Novel, Described As “Brilliantly Realised” (The New York Times Book Review), Is A Contemporary Classic That Foresaw The Metaverse And Motivated Generations Of Silicon Valley Innovators.
In The Los Angeles Where Hiro Lives, Franchises May Be Seen As Far As The Eye Can See Along The Motorway. The Autonomous City-states, Whose Law-abiding Citizens Dare Not Leave Their Mansions, Offer The Only Relief From The Sea Of Logos.
Hiro Makes A Living By Delivering Pizza To Mansions And, When Necessary, Using A Matched Set Of Samurai Swords To Protect His Pies From Marauders. His Residence Is A 20 X 30 U-store. In The Metaverse, Where His Avatar Is Renowned, He Spends The Majority Of His Time Goggled In.
The Strange New Drug Snow Crash, Which Reduces Them To Nothing More Than A Jittering Cloud Of Bad Digital Karma (And Irl, A Vegetative State), Is Felled His Fellow Hackers In The Club Known As The Black Sun, Though.
Hiro Discovers Via His Investigation Into The Infocalypse That His Roots In An Ancient Sumerian Priesthood Go All The Way Back To The Origins Of Language Itself. Y.t., A Fearless Teenage Skateboard Courier, Will Join Him. They Must Work Quickly To Stop A Shady Virtual Villain Intent On Gaining Global Dominance.
A Writer Who Defies Comparison And Is So Original That He Redefines The Way We See The World Only Rarely Comes Along. Weaving Virtual Reality, Sumerian Myth, And Just About Everything Else In Between With A Cool, Hip Cybersensibility, Neal Stephenson Is Such A Writer, And Snow Crash Is Such A Book, Giving Us The Gigathriller Of The Information Age.
Hiro Protagonist Works As A Pizza Delivery Driver For Uncle Enzo’s Cosanostra Pizza Inc. In Reality, But In The Metaverse He Is A Princely Warrior. He Races Through Neon-lit Streets Looking For The Enigmatic Virtual Villain Threatening To Bring About The Infocalypse As He Dives Headfirst Into The Mystery Of A New Computer Virus That Is Killing Hackers Everywhere. Snow Crash Is A Mind-altering Journey Through An Outrageously Bizarre Future America That You’ll Instantly Recognise.
One Of The Most Well-known Science Fiction Works Of All Time, Snow Crash Sits Alongside William Gibson’s Neuromancer As A Key Text In The Cyberpunk Genre. Anthony Ha, A Science Fiction Novelist, Was Astonished By Snow Crash When He First Read It In The Late 1990s.
Ha States In Episode 487 Of The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy Podcast, “This Was A Time When There Were Some Clumsy Representations Of Virtual Reality In Films And Tv.” It Wasn’t The First Time I Saw That Kind Of Symbology, But Snow Crash Was The First Time It Genuinely Struck Me As Amazing.
In Snow Crash, The Hacker Protagonist Hiro Travels Between Dystopian Los Angeles And A Virtual Realm Known As The Metaverse While Brandishing A Katana. David Barr Kirtley, The Presenter Of Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, Points Out That Many Businesspeople And Innovators, Including John Carmack, Reid Hoffman, And Palmer Luckey, Have Been Influenced By The Book. “I Started Making A List Of Everyone In Silicon Valley Who’s Cited This Work As Inspiring Them,” Explains Kirtley, “And I Just Kind Of Stopped At A Certain Point, Because It Was Basically Everyone.”
Although Snow Crash Is Still As Stylish And Entertaining As Ever, Certain Elements Of The Novel Have Become Stale. According To Science Fiction Expert Lisa Yaszek, The Novel Contains Several Issues With Race And Gender From The Perspective Of 2021. “I Do Still Think It’s Important To Read, Because It’s An Important Intervention,” She Adds, “If You’re Someone Who Wants To Learn A Lot About The History And Development Of Cyberpunk.” It’s The Point When Writers Of Colour And Lgbtq+ Authors Will Truly Start Using Cyberpunk As A Narrative Technique On A Worldwide Scale.
The Characters In Snow Crash, According To Science Fiction Author Sam J. Miller, Seem A Little Flat, With Rat Thing, A Robotic Guard Dog, Standing Out As One Of The Book’s Most Endearing Characters. According To Miller, “Rat Thing Could Be The Character That Gets The Closest To Having Heart, An Emotional Journey, And Who Made Me Truly Feel Things. Everyone Else Is Commenting On How Awesome It Is That They Are Wearing Three Pairs Of Sunglasses.
Listen To The Whole Discussion With Sam J. Miller, Lisa Yaszek, And Anthony Ha In Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy Episode 487 (Above). Check Out Some Of The Discussion’s Highlights Down Below.
“Hiro Was Intriguing, And He Had An Intriguing Family History, And Y.t. Had A Special Bond With Her Mother. However, I Thought That As The Novel Progressed, The Character Development Kind Of Faded Away. Juanita And Da5id Were Seldom Ever Present; Granted, The Latter Is Unconscious, But He Is Still Capable Of Waking Up. It Became Quite Difficult Since There Were So Many Different People And Organisations Involved. Everything In This Book Is Fantastic, However I Did Felt That The Characterisation Might Have Been Better. There Was Little To No Emotional Openness, Heart-to-heart Conversations, No Expressions Of Sorrow Or Anything Like. It Just Seemed Extremely Surface-level.
The [backstory] Becomes A Distraction If You’re Reading The Book For The Plot, And At Crucial Climactic Moments, Hiro Will Suddenly Return To The Library And Talk To The Librarian About [ancient Sumeria] When He’s About To Engage In Another Sword Fight Or Something Similar. Therefore, I Believe Your Foot Is Simply Kind Of Tapping Impatiently, Like, “Why Am I Reading This?,” Particularly On A First Read And Especially If You’re Younger. It’s A Great Macguffin For The Plot, And Learning About Sumerian Mythology Was Fascinating, But At Times It Seemed Like Stephenson Was Using A Lot Of Words To Basically Say, “Man, Isn’t Language Just Like A Virus?” Isn’t It Awesome? And I Thought, “It’s Nice, But Maybe Not Worth So Many Words.
“Visiting A Community Of Mostly Vietnamese Refugees In Cambodia, Which Is Effectively A Floating Village, Was One Of The Things I Did Before Writing Blackfish City. They Have An Alligator Farm, A Convenience Shop That Sells Lottery Tickets And Petrol, A Church, A School And All Of These Things On Floats. It’s Incredible, Terrible, And Not Exactly A Great Level Of Life. They Are There Mostly Because They Have Trouble Living On Property Due To Immigration Difficulties. Although I Believe Floating Cities Are A Wonderful Concept, I Don’t Think They Would Work Out So Well In Reality. Instead, They Would Probably Develop Out Of Necessity.
Snow Crash Is A Fairly Impressive Display Of Science Fiction’s (As Fiction) Possibilities. Stephenson’s Literary Ambitions (Or Abilities) Are Not Very Impressive, But Literary Craft Is Given A Lot Of Attention. The Outcome Is A Book That Is Really Rather Easy To Read.
That’s Good, But The Interesting Ideas Stephenson Comes Up With Nearly Make It Worth Reading. The Best Part Of This Science Fiction Is Its Attention To Detail, Which Stephenson Exploits To The Fullest While Maintaining A Nice Pace With A Deadpan Sense Of Humour. The Fact That The Novel’s Actual Plot Is A Little Too Convoluted And Overly Discussed Does Not Irreparably Harm The Book.
The World Has Become A Very Different Place In Some Near Future. The Worlds, In Fact. There Is Also “The Real World,” Where America Is Divided Up Into Several Suburban Communities That Are Almost All Identical, And Where The Federal Government Is But One Small (And Very Ineffective) Nation-state Among Many. Then There Is The Metaverse, A Virtual World Accessible Through Any Computer Where One Can Move Around As An Avatar And Dress However They Please (Within Certain Restrictions, Such As: One’s Avatar Cannot Be Taller Than One Actually Is, To Prevent The Metaverse Being Crowded By Giants). This Is How The Internet May Very Well Look In The Future.
Trendy Young Things Are The Main Characters. Even Though Stephenson Acknowledges That One Of Them Is Given The Name “Hiro Protagonist” By The Character Himself Rather Than By His Own Name, It Is Nonetheless A Bold (And At First, Unsettling) Step In A Fictional Work. Hiro, A Young Mixed-parental Pizza Delivery Boy And Hacker, Was One Of The First Inhabitants Of The Metaverse. He Wrote Some Of The Code During The Early Stages Of Development, Therefore He Is Familiar With Many Of The Locale’s Secrets, Especially Those Relating To The Black Sun, One Of The Oldest Buildings On The Street, The Main Thoroughfare Of The Metaverse.
A Fifteen-year-old Skateboarding Kourier Named Y.t. (Often, Naturally, Incorrectly Referred To As Whitey) Is The Other Main Character. She Spends Her Days Navigating The Streets While (Har)pooning Rides To Tow Her On Her Skateboard From Delivery To Delivery. She Has Bar-code Visas For The Several Independent States Sewn Into Her Uniform So She Can Be Quickly Scanned When She Crosses The Borders Of These Newly Divided States.
Greater Hong Kong, The Ultra-capitalist Territory Run By Mr. Lee, Is Prohibited From Possessing Firearms. Then There Is The Historically Racist New South Africa. So It Goes.
Our Protagonist, Hiro, Begins His Career As A Pizza Delivery Driver For The Mob. The Cosanostra Pizza Company Is Run By Uncle Enzo, And All Deliveries Are Promised To Be Made Within 30 Minutes. It’s A Huge Deal If The Pizza Arrives Late. And Hiro Puts Himself In A Situation Where He Can’t Deliver His Message On Time. Because Y.t. Bails Him Out Of This Situation, The Mafia Now Owes Her A Significant Favour.
Thus Begins The Amusing Story. Extraordinary Hacker Hiro Also Makes Extra Money By Selling Intelligence To The New Version Of The Cia, Including Intelligence, Data, And Information Of Any Kind. Soon After, Hiro Discovers That The Metaverse, The Other World, Has Yet Another Dangerous Issue. Someone Offers Him A Hypercard With Information That Will Be Sent To His Computer, Including Information On The Latest Drug, The Snow Crash, And Very Dangerous Intelligence.
While Hiro Resists Temptation, A Former Coworker Does Not And Suffers A Brain Injury. From Then, The Story Essentially Becomes A Race To Stop Snow Crash From Spreading Since It Turns Out To Be Both A Computer Virus And A Real Virus — Of A Very Peculiar (And Very Cunning) Kind.
There Are Many Colourful Characters, Such As Raven, Who Carries A Thermonuclear Weapon Connected To A Chip In His Head, Causing Everyone Who Is Killed To Rise In A Lovely Mushroom Cloud. There Is Also The L.ron Hubbard-oral Roberts-pat Robertson Figure, L.bob Rife, A Preacher And Businessman Who Has Had Great Success Recruiting New Followers, Particularly Many Hackers Recently. There Is Also A Dog Of Sorts Named Fido With Unusual (But Admirable) Abilities.
Although Everyone Is Involved And Paths Cross, It Is Unclear Whose Interests (And Allegiances) Are At Play Or Why Certain Individuals Act In A Certain Way. But A Book This Size Has To Maintain The Suspense, And Stephenson Does It Well For The Most Part.
It Is Brilliant And One Admires Stephenson’s Attempt At Anything Serious That He Has Provided An Explanation For The Virus, Including What It Is, How It Originated, And The Danger It Poses. Though It Is A Darn Clever Idea, He Does Get Stuck In Explanation And Is Unable To Quite Make The Virus Come Alive (Which Is A Shame).
Stephenson Excels At The Metaverse, Which He Manages Well In All Of Its Facets. There, Every Scene Is Successful. The Author’s Description Of Everyday Life In The Disorganised Remains Of America Is The Other Exceptional Aspect Of The Book. Not All Of It Is Convincing, But He Does A Great Job Of Striking A Balance Between Writing For Laughs And Writing Social Commentary. Nothing Is Too Didactic, And Very Little Is Excessive.
The Technology Is Impressive Overall, But Certain Aspects Seem Unlikely, Particularly The High-speed Skateboarding On Almost All Surfaces, Even With Very Intelligent Wheels. But Regardless Of Whether They Are Realistic Or Not, All Gadget Scenes, Whether In The Metaverse Or The Real World, Are Unquestionably The Most Entertaining. (And Generally Speaking, The Majority Of What He Describes Has At Least A Strong Ring Of Plausibility.)
The Book Devolves Into A Race Against The Clock, Which Is Nevertheless Somewhat Thrilling Despite Being A Little Too Straightforward And Predictable.
Hiro And Y.t. Essentially Alternate Chapters, Hardly Bumping With One Another As They Go About Their Own Missions. There, A Little Bit More Interaction Wouldn’t Have Bothered Us, But Stephenson’s Approach Seems Reasonable Enough. The Conclusion Can Seem A Little Too Abrupt. Personally, We Would Have Preferred A More Daring Conclusion—not The Fairy Tale One, But Rather The (Certainly Much More Likely) White Noise / Snow Crash One, Which Would Have Been Difficult To Write But Would Have Delivered A Far Bigger Punch. However, Maybe He Is Saving The Characters For A Follow-up.
We Definitely Recommend Snow Crash To Anyone Who Is Interested In Science Fiction, As Well As Anyone Who Is Curious About The Future Of Our World. Stephenson Writes Engagingly And Often Does Well, And He Has Many Interesting Ideas.
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