Snow Crash

ISBN: 344245302X
ISBN 13: 9783442453023
By: Neal Stephenson Joachim Körber

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About this book

Schon mit der ersten Zeile des bahnbrechenden Cyberpunk-Romans Snow Crash katapultiert Neal Stephenson den Leser in eine nicht allzu ferne Zukunft. In dieser Welt kontrolliert die Mafia den Pizzaservice, die USA bestehen aus einer Kette gleichartig organisierter Stadtstaaten und das Internet -- im Buch verkörpert durch das "Metaverse" -- sieht aus wie es uns der Medienrummel vom letzten Jahr glauben machen will. Das ist die Welt des Protagonisten Hiro -- Hacker, Samurai-Schwertkämpfer und Fahrer beim Pizzaservice. Als sich sein bester Freund mit einer neuen Designerdroge, Snow Crash genannt, ins Jenseits befördert und seine gleichermaßen schöne wie kluge Exfreundin Hiro um Hilfe bittet, was macht unser Protagonist? Er eilt zur Rettung herbei. Snow Crash, halsbrecherischer Roman des 21. Jahrhunderts, verarbeitet so ziemlich alles vom sumerischen Mythos bis hin zur Vision einer postmodernen Zivilisation am Rande des Zusammenbruchs. Schneller als das Fernsehen und weitaus unterhaltsamer zeichnet Snow Crash das Portrait einer Zukunft, die bizarr genug ist, um plausibel zu sein. Empfohlenes Buch für die Sektion Science-Fiction und Fantasy Dieses spannende Cyberpunk-Abenteuer sicherte Neal Stephenson seinen Platz in der Science-Fiction-Szene und schon allein die ersten 30 Seiten sind Ihr Geld wert. Das Buch beschwört eine zukünftige Welt herauf, in der das Internet virtuell ist und Avatare -- "virtuelle" Identitäten -- die Eintrittskarte zum "Metaverse" bilden. Aber eine Sache, die "Snow Crash" genannt wird, lichtet die Reihen der wichtigen Persönlichkeiten des Metaverse und eine Infokalypse droht. Hier kommt der Protagonist Hiro ins Spiel, Pizzaauslieferer, Ausnahme-Schwertkämpfer und Superhacker. Hiro und Teenie-Girl/Super-Skatepunk Y.T. sind wahrscheinlich die einzigen, die noch alles retten können, aber nur wenn sie nicht vorher von der Mafia oder von einem mit eigener Atombombe bewaffneten Psychopathen umgebracht werden.

Reader's Thoughts

Meg

I have a little SAT analogy to help you understand how awesome this book is: Snow Crash is to Books as The Matrix is to movies (with only the absolute BEST parts of Tron and Da Vinci Code thrown in). I'm not talking about all the commercialized Matrix-saga and the weird hype... I'm talking about the first time you sat in the movie theater and saw that chick in the Matrix spin around in suspended animation and kick the crap out of a bunch of cops and thought, "What the #@*%??? COOL!" That's pretty much how this entire book reads. I actually had to add it to my "favorites" list. Can't believe I'd never heard of it before?! (my thanks for suggesting it, Erich)I guarantee there is not a sentient male breathing who won't count this among their top 20 at least. As for you fellow females, if you enjoy a great action romp like I do... and I don't mean the stupid, dime-a-dozen shoot-em-ups, we're talking Die Hard I/Aliens/Terminator 2 (and aforementioned Matrix) caliber here... then you'll love it, too. It has everything: Mafia pizza delivery tycoons, robot dogs, samurai fights, brainwashing hackers, ancient Sumerian gods, hydrogen bombs, hallucinogenic drugs, punk skateboarders... SWEET, as J.T. would say.My favorite parts: Stephenson's out-of-this-world unique writing style, the analogy of hacking into a persons brain using language in the same way people hack into computers using code, the amazing action sequences, use of the second person (you/we) to directly connect to the reader, the sections written from the robot dog's perspective, the use of binary code-type language in terms like "hacker" and "harpooning" (for example, the hero can both "hack" into a computer AND "hack" your body to pieces with a katana). BRILLIANT! A couple tiny complaints: There wasn't nearly enough of Raven, the villain. He ranks right under Hannibal Lector and that guy from the movie Serenity to me... everything a villain should be: a sexy, terrifying brute of a nuclear mutant who rips people to pieces with glass knives. Also, Hiro Protagonist wasn't much of a... well, hero protagonist. He did a little too much research and not quite enough slashing people with his katana for my taste. Raven's foil, Y.T., stole the show--TOTALLY. Not like I minded. I'm all for a 15-year-old skater chick saving the world. SWEET!(Rated R for an isolated sex scene, medium violence, and consistent swearing.)FAVORITE QUOTES:Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest mother****** in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime... Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer had to worry about trying to be the baddest mother****** in the world. The position is taken.He turns off the techno-**** in his goggles. All it does is confuse him; he stands there reading statistics about his own death even as it's happening to him. Very post-modern.BMW drivers take evasive action at the drop of a hat, emulating the drivers in the BMW advertisements--this is how they convince themselves they didn't get ripped off.Interesting things happen along borders--transitions--not in the middle where everything is the same.[We've:] got millions of those Young Mafia types. All destined to wear blazers and shuffle papers in suburbia. You don't respect those people very much, Y.T., because you're young and arrogant. But I don't respect them much either, because I'm old and wise.The world is full of power and energy and a person can go far by just skimming off a tiny bit of it.

Jonathan Cullen

I am struggling with how to describe this book and how to assign it a fair rating. I am amazed at how fresh Snow Crash feels, even 20 years after Neal Stephenson took a stroll down the Street. Many of the ideas in here a simply today's reality. The crystal balling is fairly impressive. I loved the first quarter of the book. I ate up the pizza delivery and avatar scenes. Raven has easily made it to my top Literary Badass List.But I have to admit I got bogged down in the Sumerian myth. Even though it was core to the story I felt we could have done without it somehow. Snow Crash also gets buried under its own style. There is not a single sentence which is not seeking flaming glory. Many of them succeed but it's a lot to swallow so many flourishes.I enjoyed it and was impressed by it. We'll leave it at that. I will give it a 3.5 so I can round it up.

Nottyboy

Juvenile nerd power fantasy in a nutshellI'm a big fanboy of the cyberpunk genre. I should have liked this book. Instead, I can honestly say that hate this book-- and I also feel bad saying that about someone's work, because it's almost like saying you hate someone's baby. Maybe it was all the hype I was exposed to before reading it,but I just could not shake a deep feeling of annoyance throughout 90% of this book. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. And when I wasn't doing that, I was asking myself things like: "Do people really think this is the Cyberpunk cream of the crop? How many pages to go?"The first obvious problem was the prose. Apparently some people's funny bones get tickled by similes comparing military bases to boils on someone's ass, metaphors about valleys and geological cunnilingus, and clever wordplay like calling refugees "Refus" (Refuse, har har har, get it?). To an elitist douchebag like me it just sounds juvenile and unimaginative. Combine all that with clunky, corny writing, and it's just downright lame. I could have also done without the "Unix In A Nutshell"-like explanations of EVERYTHING that drag down the flow of the book even more. The other big problem was that I did not care about any of the characters. Hiro was annoying as hell because it's obvious that he's just a nerd's fantasy of what he wishes he could do. Y.T. also got on my nerves. She could have disappeared in the middle of the book and I would not have missed her. There was nothing likeable or interesting about either of them. Ironically, among all the cartoony, shallow characters, the only ones that had some sense of deeper humanity were Ng and Raven. Another letdown was that the book's ideas were not that great, which did not help the plot. I just did not buy the whole "neurolinguistic hacking" angle as it was used. People becoming brainless zombies from watching some binary code on a screen, or listening to some Sumerian "namshub"? That is so far removed from the fields of NeuroLinguistic Programming and memetics, that this might as well have been a Dungeons & Dragons novel. I get it. Brains are just like computers, so they can get viruses, binary code, 0's and 1's, blah blah blah. Seriously, I can suspend disbelief, but you can only take a metaphor so far before it starts to look stupid. Finally, for a book that's supposed to be a belly busting satire, the humor in this book is rather lame and nerdy. I read people talking about how this book made them howl with laughter, but almost everything fell pretty flat for me. The only section that got a half-assed 'heh' from me was the government policy on the use of toilet paper, but by the second page the joke had already become stale. All in all, I doubt that I will buy another book from this author. Judging from what little I've read in Cryptonomicon and Diamond Age, there is little that has changed for me to warrant another look.

korty

Cyberpunk’s next generation pretty much began here. Written by someone who -unlike William Gibson- actually knows computers, this anime in novel form is one of those rare SF books that is read by many non-SF readers. On a personal note, this is probably the only book I’ll ever read whose main character is half black and half Japanese, just like me! When I first read it, I was working at a pizza place, just like the protagonist, and I actually got fired around the same time I got to the point of him losing his job as well. Also, my first name is Hiroshi and he goes by Hiro. Cool, huh? OK, aside from those neat little coincidences, we are not at all alike. It just made reading it all the more fun for me. Plus I hated that job.Admittedly, there are certain aspects of this book that are a tad dated now (it was written in 1991), and he can’t quite get past certain stereotypes of Japanese people that many Westerners harbor. Still, there is some fun bit of social commentary and parody on just about every other page, and Stephenson satirizes globalization years before most people even knew what globalization is. There is also some really fascinating stuff involving the concept of memetic viruses, which he ties to Sumerian mythology and the Tower of Babel. I know that a lot of people find this part of the book to be boring, but I was fully engrossed. The kind of thing I live for when I read SF.

selena

I don’t think that reading Snow Crash has the same effect in 2009 as reading it would have in 1992, the year it was published. Stephenson creates for us a world so absurd that you can’t help but buy into it. The Mafia controlling pizza delivery, the US being a city-state and the Internet - or Metaverse - being your very own Sims game - all seemingly very plausible.The story follows Hiro Protagonist - jack of all trades. He is the world’s greatest swordsman (though in the Metaverse), a pizza-delivery guy, an information-collector for the Central Intelligence Corporation and of course, a renowned hacker. In fact, he helped create the Metaverse with his friend Da5id. He resides in a storage unit at the U-Stor-It with his friend Vitaly Chernobyl, a very famous rock star. I should also mention that Hiro organizes Vitaly’s concerts. Like I said, jack of all trades. Apart from the storage unit, all Hiro has to his name is a laptop and some Japanese swords. One would think that a man with that much talent would have a penthouse or a club in the Metaverse, at least.The story begins when his cocky friend Da5id tries this new drug called Snow Crash - which Da5id’s ex-wife and Hiro’s ex-girlfriend (same person, may I add) warned him against. Hiro, his ex-girlfriend Juanita and his 15-year old friend Y.T. - a modern-day skaterboarding courier - are left to figure out why Da5id has physically collapsed because of a bitmap on a screen.The story goes beyond the typical action sword-fighting stuff. The tale dips into the history of Christianity, the story of Babel and Sumerian culture. Without bringing in these ancient elements, I don’t know if the story would have been as appealing and enjoyable for me. The juxtaposition of past and future worked in his favor to create a plausible story.I only read this book on the very persistent recommendation of my boyfriend. And I’m so glad that he kept at it. I’m not typically a fan of cyberpunk but I feel this book goes beyond that. I’m good with computers and technology in general but I can’t code much at all. This didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book at all because even though Stephenson himself is incredibly tech savvy - he doesn’t shove it in your face. I sincerely appreciated that the book did not make me feel stupid and instead let me figure out the story at about the same time as the characters did.This is yet another book where I have to say that you should not let the cyberpunk label get to you. The ties to linguistics and former, nearly forgotten religions pushed the book past just being cyberpunk or science fiction.And with a name as witty as Hiro Protagonist, how can you resist giving Neil Stephenson a chance?

Apatt

I'm just updating this review I posted in 2011.Since reading this book I have read two more Neal Stephenson novels namely The Diamond Age and Anathem. Of the three I think Snow Crash is the most fun book. It is not as deep or thought provoking as the other two (Anathem especially) but the most wildly entertaining. I can still remember the "the greatest pizza delivery scene in world literature" and YT's "harpooning" cars as if I was there. The experience is like reading about being in VR while being in a sort of VR myself. To me a good book (novels specifically) is like virtual reality, being immersed in a book takes me away from wherever I am. The people or the environment I am in does not register, if I had anything cooking on the stove it would get burned, telephones and door bells go unanswered.Snow Crash is one such book and I heartily recommend it to anyone who want to take a quick leave of their current reality.

Keely

Crazy, strange, exciting, visionary, action-packed, sexy. Reading this book is like watching the Matrix for the first time. Though it may lack pretense of more complex literature, it asks vague and interesting enough questions to match The Bard's sophistry. Beyond that it is just a great read. It shows a vision of the future that seems eminently likely, but unlike 1984 or Brave New World, has not started to feel stilted. It also lack the long-winded philosophical diatribes and allegories that stagnate that breed of classics. Gibson may have invented Cyberpunk, but Stephenson takes the genre out for a joyride and loses a hubcap on a bootstrap turn.It was originally planned as a graphic novel, but when that got scrapped, Stephenson filled it out and got it published. Perhaps this is why his other works never match Snowcrash's frenetic teenage energy and sensuality. I wish there were more books this interesting and enjoyable.

Otis Chandler

A really interesting novel that takes place in the future in a world where some people live in the metaverse (aka digital universe/internet) more than the real world. I don't remember it so well now but I do remember there being some really interesting tie-ins to ancient sumarian computers.That plus any book with a protagonist named Hiro Protagonist who wields badass japanese swords is just badass.Note: the MetaVerse is current being built now here: http://secondlife.com

Rob

When I first read Snow Crash, I thought to myself: "This thing is paced like a comic." Funny then to later discover that the novel was written after a comic book attempt at the same story fell apart.Snow Crash is the paradigmatic Stephenson novel. Grabs you quickly, thrusts you head long into world that's so preposterous that he can't possibly be making it up, and the drags you along kicking and screaming until you're left startled and somewhat confused at a precipitous ending.But don't let that fool you. This is probably Stephenson's best, most memorable work. It's certainly my favorite and it's certainly the one that's the most fun. (Which is probably why I've read it ten times.)UPDATE: Yep. Still one of my all-time-favorites.UPDATE: See also: Filet of Meta-Conflict.------SEE ALSO• "10 Science Fiction Books That I Love (and you will at least like a lot)" at litreactor

Bruce

Snow Crash is a tough book to evaluate, because, at its best it's tremendously visionary and often intentionally funny. At it's worst (unfortunately, the entire second half of the book and the monstrously clumsy and ridiculous exposition sequence in the middle), it's pedestrian, superficial, and wholly predictable. Neal Stephenson cares about making a quasi-believable world, but here has yet to populate it with real characters. The lead is a katana-swinging hacker named "Hiro Protagonist." The sidekick is a 15 year old thrasher skateboarder girl named "Y.T." (supposedly 'Yours Truly,' but I have to believe it's just 'Young Thing') who surfs California's highway system by using an electromagnetic harpoon the way Spiderman web-swings through Manhattan.The villain is a corporate cipher named L. Bob Rife (sort of a cross between L. Ron Hubbard and Rupert Murdoch) who has a vague plan to take over the world by infecting America with a deadly linguistic virus capable of crashing people and computers alike. The book could likely have been vastly improved had Stephenson not wasted so much effort trying to rationalize his mcguffin (the virus). There's only so much silliness about ancient Sumer, Chomsky, and the Tower of Babel one can take (especially contrived as dialogue with a virtual librarian avatar) before one's patience is strained. Even if one takes as premise that binary coders' brains can be made susceptible to a computer virus (thanks to the effects of language on the brain's structural development), it's never clear how this metaphor successfully makes the leap to the reality of a hematological contagion and so less clear why it's worth the hundred or so pages worth of attempted explanation. All of this leads to a tremendously campy series of escalating action sequences between the good guys and bad guys in which I had about zero emotional investment.But give Stephenson his due. This book may well be the source for the word 'avatar' in its present online context, nicely anticipates augmented reality (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHkUOp... virtual reality (see World of Warcraft), and beautifully satirizes and sociologically explains the US's commercial strip mall homogeneity. How's "loglo" for a great neologism to describe commercial billboards so bright they collectively light up the night sky? My favorite passage that encapsulates this part of the book appears on pp. 178-9, and I'll leave it as the postscript of this review:The franchise and the virus work on the same principle: what thrives in one place will thrive in another. You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder -- its DNA -- xerox it, and embed it in the fertile lining of a well-traveled highway, preferably one with a left-turn lane. Then the growth will expand until it runs up against its property lines....[W]hen a businessman from New Jersey goes to Dubuque, he knows he can walk into a McDonald's and no one will stare at him. He can order without having to look at the menu, and the food will always taste the same. McDonald's is Home, condensed into a three-ring binder and xeroxed. "No surprises" is the motto of the franchise ghetto, its Good Housekeeping seal, subliminally blazoned on every sign and logo that make up the curves and grids of light that outline the Basin.The people of America, who live in the world's most surprising and terrible country, take comfort in that motto. Follow the loglo outward, to where the growth is enfolded into the valleys and the canyons, and you find the land of the refugees. They have fled from the true America, the America of atomic bombs,... gridlock, motorcycle gangs, and bungee jumping. They have parallel-parked their bimbo boxes in identical computer-designed Burbclave street patterns and secreted themselves in symmetrical sheetrock s***holes with vinyl floors and ill-fitting woodwork and no sidewalks, vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness, a culture medium for a medium culture.

Kristjan

Narrated by Jonathan DavisI really enjoyed the quality of the narration; Mr. Davis does an excellent job rendering the voices of the various characters within the story.This was a fun read for the most part ... although the heavy exploitation of various stereo-types might be offensive to some, it really is the key to most of the humor in the story; at least Mr. Stephenson is an equal opportunity satirist in creating his dystopian society. The story pokes fun at corporate franchises, Christians (Orthodox Russians, Catholics and evangelists), the feds, the mafia, Columbian drug cartels, pizza delivery drivers, skateboard couriers, gated communities (burbclaves), apartheid, Alaskan red-necks, and a host of others. The characters themselves are very shallow and underdeveloped, though most are still memorable none the less. This central plot merges ancient Sumerian mythology as alternate history with computer technology to construct an idea that humans have a basic or innate language ability that was 'hard coded' into our brain. This direct neural wiring left humans vulnerable to a memetic or 'meta virus' that basically turns humans into automatons. Stephenson uses a series of interactions (info-dumps) with a database AI (The Librarian) to introduce reader to the concepts needed to fully appreciate the plot climax. Unfortunately this is where Stephenson starts to lose his way (and a star) while the satire becomes less skillful and the story displays more violence (needlessly so in some cases). The strange introduction of teenage sex with a much older and very violent male antagonist toward the end of the book really detracted from the story as a whole. Finally, the conclusion seemed confused and somewhat aimless and unsatisfying by the end (Where was Raven's kaboom!).

William

I guess if you're crazy into computer hacking and stuff this book would be a great read. I can't say that it was an entirely horrible book but I don't think I would ever recommend it to anybody that I didn’t wish a horrible, fiery death upon.The plot was entertaining enough and the back-story though extremely, extremely detailed which as a side note isn't necessarily a bad thing however for those of you yet to read it, a quick warning. As soon as Hiro meets up with that librarian dude, settle in for a long night. That aside it is a very clever theory that dates all the way back to Babel and some how links it with computer language in a way that really sells it.I could go on about feeling deceived and what not from the seemingly false positive reviews i'd read of it before buying it. For instance the first review on the back, and I quote "Fast, dense, deep, and funny. The best book I've read this year". When actually I found it to be quite slowish, a little too dense and deep, I guess it's light mooded but not really HAHA funny and, you know! not the best book I’ve read this year. But the clincher for me was one of the characters, Y.T to be exact. Police making her strip down and perving on her, making several remarks about screwing several characters and finally the big one, a steamy love scene with like the forty year old bad ass, bad guy Raven. All of which would be cool if not for the fact she's 15. I'm sorry but I just couldn't get past it. For the life of me I just can't understand why he couldn't just bump that 5 into a 9. I mean the young, can do, sexually active character still works with the added bonus of not feeling sick to your stomach whenever you read something provocative.But still as a whole it's not so bad, probably one of those books that you have to read two or three times to appreciate. My advice, save yourself the time and read One of us or Only Forward, Michael Marshall Smith is a much better cyber punk writer.

Sandi

I read “Snow Crash” when it first came out in paperback nearly 15 years ago. Then, I had a really hard time getting through it. But, I kept thinking about different concepts in it over and over again. I never forgot the bimbo boxes—slang for minivans driven by suburban housewives. Talk about a book telling the future! Upon re-reading the book, I now understand why it was so difficult. First, there’s that tricky slang problem. Stephenson invented a lot of slang for the book and that made reading it like trying to follow a teenager’s text-messaging conversation. Second, the Metaverse, while undeniable fascinating, was a totally foreign concept to a person who was using a computer with DOS-6, a CGA monitor and no mouse. Third, and probably most importantly, the book is just way too full of exposition. There’s a whole “character” devoted to exposition; a computer construct called “Librarian.” Librarian has a tendency to ramble on and is constantly changing the course of his conversations with the protagonist, aptly named “Hiro Protagonist.”“Snow Crash” is usually placed in the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. I think that’s a bit simplistic. It’s so much more than cyberpunk. It’s an action thriller. It’s full of information about linguistics, brain function, religion, corporate greed, government employees, rock & roll, and the Mafia. Overall, I found “Snow Crash” to be a more enjoyable read in 2008 than I did in the mid-Nineties. I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind being bombarded with a gazillion disparate ideas.

David

While this book is over twenty years old now, it still seems fresh to me. The outpouring of novel ideas, concepts, and zany action combine to make this story into a hysterical experience. I've read a number of Stephenson's later works, but this early one is the craziest, the most outlandish, action-packed, and fun.The story is crazy on a number of levels. It pokes fun at our institutions, such as commercialism gone amok. Atop of a commercial jail, a sign reads: THE HOOSEGOWPremium incarcerations and restraint servicesWe welcome busloads! It pokes fun at the rigidity and flooding of regulations at federal institutions. For example, in the federal office building where one of the characters works, there are prohibitions against all types of "pool" activities, but a single, onetime exception has now been made for any office that wishes to pursue a joint bathroom-tissue strategy. Americans seem to like "oversized" things, so one character " ... tried prostheses for a while--some of them are very good. But nothing is as good as a motorized wheelchair. And then I got to thinking, why do motorized wheelchairs always have to be tiny pathetic things that strain to go up a little teeny ramp? So I bought this--it is an airport firetruck from Germany--and converted it into my new motorized wheelchair." And, talking about BIG, "What is this, a quadrillion dollars?""One-and-a-half quadrillion. Inflation, you know." On one level, the book is about Hiro, an African-American, a pizza-delivery/hacker/swordsman guy. Hiro teams up with Y.T., a 15-year-old girl who is a courier. Hiro must deliver every pizza within 30 minutes of an order, or the president of the company will give the customer an all-expense-paid trip to Italy. His super-charged car ends up in a swimming pool, and the girl decides to take the pizza and deliver it on time. She rides a truly space-age skateboard, catching rides by "harpooning" vehicles.Hiro discovers a "virus" called Snow Crash, that converts ordinary people into babbling religious converts. "Basically, anyone who reads the National Enquirer or watches pro wrestling on TV is easy to convert." But, since the virus is digital/binary, it can kill hackers. Hence, Hiro takes on a mission to discover the source of the virus. Hiro asks, "Wait a minute, Juanita. Make up your mind. This Snow Crash thing--is it a virus, a drug, or a religion?"Juanita shrugs. "What's the difference?" Indeed, there is a brilliant segue into the development of Sumerian mythology, linguistics, and religion. What is a virus, actually? Hiro speculates, "The Torah is like a virus. It uses the human brain as a host. The host--the human--makes copies of it. And more humans come to synagogue and read it." This is a wild story. If you like satirical science fiction--read this book. If you like action stories--definitely read it. If you like intellectual discussions about linguistics, history, religion, and computer hacking--this book is for you. If you like romance--well, you can find romance elsewhere.

Kemper

My Neal Stephenson reading has been all backwards. The first one I read was Cryptonomicon, then the Baroque Cycle and then Anathem. So going back to one of his earlier and 'simpler' novels seemed like it'd be a breeze after having to practically learn a fictional language to finish Anathem.While Snow Crash may have some more familiar sci-fi tropes (hackers, skateboarders and virtual reality are now almost stereotypes although I'm sure it seemed fresh in '92 when this was written), it still has the brain-bustin' Stephenson style theories in it. In this case, his whole premise of ancient Sumerian languages as an audio virus was definately something that took a lot of explanation, and it's those types of intricate ideas that make Stephenson one of my favorites.But the other thing I love about Stephenson is that he can explain this crazy theory for page after page until you forget about everything else in the book, and then the next chapter will have an epic action scene with swords, gatling guns, and a variety of other near-future weapons.Terrific book. And I think there's probably a lot of material written or filmed since '92 that should probably cut Stephenson a royalty check. I'm looking at you, Matrix!

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