Snow Crash

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

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Cyberpunk Favorites Fiction Sci Fi Sci Fi Fantasy Science Fiction Scifi Sf To Read

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


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.


Most cyberpunk novels were written before the transformational effect of the internet on telecommunications. There has been a subsequent overwhelming impact on the web, technology and information as well. The first thing most people do when they get up in the morning is check their email. In 1992 the computer age was just starting to peak as a communication and information source. In that same year Neal Stephenson introduced his novel “Snow Crash”. The novel was based on a near future dystopian fantasy vision which only slightly differs from the reality of the year 2006. Snow Crash is about a young daring pizza man who decides to play superhero in order to stop the perpetrators behind the mass distribution of a harmful drug called Snow Crash. The reader is taken through a nonstop adventure into an alternate realm accessible through ones computer terminal. The action is never-ending featuring amazingly vivid futuristic scenery How real the depiction of the future Stephenson predicted at the time comes to light in today’s internet controlled society. Many of the predictions mentioned in Snow Crash are as real as imaginable and remain credible in the fact that they apparently came true. Snow Crash is one of the most famous cyberpunk fiction novels ever written . It takes place in the metaverse a setting not very different from "the matrix" a fictional computer enhanced realm accessible by anybody with a working computer “The people are pieces of software called avatars they are audio visual bodies that players use to communicate with each other in the metaverse”(Stephenson#36).Entering Stephenson’s metaverse has strong simulation to a very popular transformation taking place among most video game formats. Virtual reality video games where you can see a 3d depiction of yourself playing the game “Your avatar can look any way you want it to up to the limitations of your equipment" (Stephenson#36). In this statement we see Stephenson’s almost prophetic extrapolation of computer technology, The ability that exists in the hands of web designers today present an almost holographic appearing avatar very similar to those that existed in “Snow Crash” that gave the user the opportunity to adjust his appearance any way he deemed fit. At the time this novel was written we were only able to experience games like missile command and asteroids, there was nothing publicly available even remotely resembling what’s available to us today Technoculture is the combination of the most fascinating and important developed trends in technology that most affect our culture as much as the web “Linking the act of creativity with he telecommunications machines that now facilitate and mediate human contact”(Geyh#509). Paula Geyh editor of the anthology "Postmodern American Fiction" speaks of the recent developments in technoculture. In her book she emphasizes the impact that telecommunications has had on people.“Snow Crash takes on a common cyberpunk theme that of the implications of the information explosion caused by new technologies such as global fiber optic network”(Meyer#1). A pioneer of his time Stephenson scratches the surface, in taking the computer idea a step further visionary style and understand through foresight the implications of new technologies and their inevitable expansion and improvement over the years,realizing that as with all inventions the computer must improve and expand most authors could never imagine what would have happened. “Stephenson is a computer programmer and his detailed deskriptions of how the metaverse works and how people through simulations called avatars can enter it provide a more solid basis for his fiction”(Meyers#1). All in all a great read and worth the effort.

Erich Franz Guzmann

me lu lu mu al nu um me en ki me en me lu lu mu me al nu um me al nu um me me mu lu e al nu um me dug ga mu me mu lu e al nu um me...


Did you ever have a kid at school who tried to appear smart and as the font of all knowledge by catching on to the tail-ends of things while listening to adults, absorbing some of it, and then spouting forth in front of an assembly of kids, his (or her, --let's be fair here) own regurgitation of what he had heard in the adult quarter, which would often make most of the other kids hang on to his/her every word simply because they themselves didn't have a clue what he was talking about?Well, with Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson is that kid grown up. Stephenson latches on to all kinds of ideas and then regurgitates his reductionist, lopsided version of them in 'novel' form. The effect it had on this reader, is similar to what the screeching of chalk on a board does to most people; it set my teeth on edge.There are so many lopsided, half-developed ideas with huge holes in logic in them, in this novel, that I cannot mention them all and remain as brief as I am sure that you, dear reader, would prefer me to be. Most of them pertain to Stephenson's lopsided extrapolation of how a virtual reality world would work, and his (to me loopy) ideas on neurolinguistics , ancient history and religions. I was ambivalent about his snarky depiction of capitalism taken to the extreme. In the Snow Crash world, everything is privatised to the point that civil services such as police and prisons are privatised, and 'burbclaves' (small city states) have their own laws and services to the point that America doesn't have federal law anymore--yet there are still Feds! The latter institution is highly satirised by Stephenson, with regard to the typical bureaucratic yards of red tape and the tech and intel gathering overkill and so on. I admit that I found these bits humorous. I reckon Stephenson is, by their inclusion into a state that has no laws, and where the federal government seems merely a token from days gone by, saying that the FBI was superfluous to start with in any case, hah. But the overall effect of the Snow Crash background setting is that of an almost schizophrenic collage of bits and pieces stuck together to create a highly disjunctive world.I enjoyed the action sequences and I very much enjoyed his two female protagonists; slightly less so the male one. In this early novel, Stephenson shows faint glimmerings of promise. His clumsy explanations of the tech aspects of the world is jarring and often nonsensical, so the main little points of light lie with the action sequences and the characterization, the latter which I found not too bad since many of his stereotypes were slightly more rounded than actually stereotypical and many of the characters were relatively believable and even likeable in spite of the clumsiness. The hero Hiro, (or shall I say, Hiro Protagonist, the protagonist) did feel paper-thin however, like just a another piece of deus ex machina. So, four stars for the fact that the novel passes the Bechdel test, and for having created the eminently likeable character Y.T. But minus a star for the jarring racism and lack of cultural and ethnic sensitivity, and minus another star for setting my teeth on edge with his loopy ideas and his lopsided, cartoony projections into a future consisting of what feels like a world constructed of cardboard cutouts.(And minus a virtual star for positing that patriarchal religions are more rational than matriarchal ones. )Oh, and pretty important to me is to mention the subtraction of another virtual star for the sex with a fifteen year old girl, and her 'relationship' with a mass murderer more than twice her age.Add half a star back for the humor.Many people credit Stephenson with being the first person to think of a cyberverse in which humans could participate represented by avatars, but by his own admission, Lucasfilm with Habitat was there before him. ;)In fact, it might not be an overstatement to say that Stephenson had pretty much gypped his idea off of developers Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar. (Please be my guest and Google them.)In his book The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, Howard Rheingold writes in Chapter Six: In Austin, Texas, in 1990, at the First Conference on Cyberspace, I met the two programmers who created the first large-scale, multi-user, commercial virtual playground.In their address to the conference, and the paper they later published, "The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat," Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer recounted their experience as the designers and managers of a virtual community that used computer graphics as well as words to support an online society of tens of thousands. Much of that conference in Austin was devoted to discussions of virtual-reality environments in which people wear special goggles and gloves to experience the illusion of sensory immersion in the virtual world via three-dimensional computer graphics. Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar stood out in that high-tech crowd because the cyberspace they had created used a very inexpensive home computer, often called a toy computer, and a cartoonlike two-dimensional representation to create their kind of virtual world. Farmer and Morningstar had one kind of experience that the 3-D graphics enthusiasts did not have, however--the system they had designed, Habitat, had been used by tens of thousands of people. Source: presented by Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar : fascinating thoughts on the internet as a marketplace: PS. I relented and added a half star for making YT female and such a fun character and subtracted a quarter star for making her blonde, then added back a quarter star for the way in which NS made fun of the FBI bureaucracy.


This book has style and furious energy, like all Neal Stephenson, but it doesn't really make sense. Well... if you casually invent the Metaverse while telling a rattling good story, who cares about a logical hole or nine? And the incidental details are terrific. My favourite was the biker who is a nuclear power in his own right, but there were many others.__________________________________I happened to look at the Wikipedia article, and was immediately entranced by the plot summary. The anonymous author's deadpan delivery is perfect. For your amusement:(view spoiler)[The protagonist is the aptly named Hiro Protagonist (Hiro being a homophone of hero), whose business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world." When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business (selling data to the CIC, the for-profit organization that evolved from the CIA after the U.S. government's loss of power).The pair soon learn of a dangerous new drug called "Snow Crash" that is both a computer virus capable of infecting the brains of unwary hackers in the Metaverse and a mind-altering virus in Reality. It is distributed by a network of Pentecostal churches via its infrastructure and belief system. As Hiro and Y.T. dig deeper (or are drawn in) they discover more about Snow Crash and its connection to ancient Sumerian culture, the fiber-optics monopolist L. Bob Rife, and his enormous Raft of refugee boat people who speak in tongues. Also, both in the Metaverse and in Reality, they confront one of Rife's minions, an Aleut harpoon master named Raven whose motorcycle's sidecar packs a nuke wired to go off should Raven ever be killed. Raven has never forgiven the U.S. for the way they handled the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands (see Aleutian Islands Campaign in World War II) or for the nuclear testing on Amchitka.Hiro, at the prompting of his Catholic and linguist ex-girlfriend Juanita Marquez, begins to unravel the nature of this crisis. It relates back to the mythology of ancient Sumer, which Stephenson describes as speaking a very powerful ur-language. Sumerian is to modern "acquired languages" as binary is to programming languages: it affects the entity (be it human or computer) at a far lower and more basic level than does acquired/programming language. Sumerian is rooted in the brain stem and related to glossolalia, or "speaking in tongues"—a trait displayed by most of L. Bob Rife's convertees. Furthermore, Sumerian culture was ruled and controlled via "me," the human-readable equivalent of software which contains the rules and procedures for various activity (harvests, the baking of bread, etc.). The keepers of these important documents were priests referred to as en; some of them, like the god/semi-historical-figure Enki, could write new me, making them the equivalent of programmers or hackers.As Stephenson describes it, one goddess/semi-historical figure, Asherah, took it upon herself to create a dangerous biolinguistic virus and infect all peoples with it; this virus was stopped by Enki, who used his skills as a "neurolinguistic hacker" to create an inoculating "nam-shub" that would protect humanity by destroying its ability to use and respond to the Sumerian tongue. This forced the creation of "acquired languages" and gave rise to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, Asherah's meta-virus did not disappear entirely, as the "Cult of Asherah" continued to spread it by means of cult prostitutes and infected women breast feeding orphaned infants; this weakened form of the virus is compared to herpes simplex. Furthermore, Rife has been sponsoring archaeological expeditions to the Sumerian city of Eridu, and has found enough information on the Sumerian tongue to reconstruct it and use it to work his will on humanity. He has also found the nam-shub of Enki, which he is protecting at all costs.Hiro makes his way to Rife's Raft, a massive refugee flotilla centered around Rife's personal yacht, the former USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. Juanita has already infiltrated this floating caravan for the express purpose of helping overthrow Rife. Y.T. has been captured by Rife's followers and is taken to the Raft, where she becomes romantically involved with Raven for a short time and is eventually taken hostage by Rife personally. While hostage, Y.T. delivers the nam-shub of Enki to Hiro, who together with Juanita uses it to save the virus-afflicted. Hiro then accesses the Metaverse and foils Raven's attempt to widely disseminate the Snow Crash virus to a grouping of the hacker elite. Meanwhile, Y.T. is brought to the mainland by Rife, but she escapes. Rife and Raven proceed to an airport, where they are confronted by Uncle Enzo (the Mafia kingpin). A critically wounded Enzo disarms Raven, while Rife is killed and his virus destroyed when Fido, a cyborg "rat-thing" who had previously been rescued by Y.T., propels himself through the engine of L. Bob Rife's plane at beyond Mach 1, incinerating Rife and his plane. The novel ends with Y.T. driving home with her mother, and with hints of a future rekindled relationship between Hiro and Juanita. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

mark monday

derisively laugh to me for opportunities of full and cringe-worthy and tedious equally be to found i which, Against A Dark Background beloved the disliked who jackass of kind the am i that mind in keep also should you, seriously review this take you before but. FAIL. hipness insouciant of display a with audience its dazzle to designed lie a - lie brazen some of middle the in worship i someone catching like was it, one this with was i disappointed how express can't words. nowhere go but brilliant seem that (business Sumerian that like) ideas many so. cyberbullshit confusing of full too, snarky too, shallow too. finish couldn't i that (far so) book Stephenson Neal only extra star for being incredibly ahead of its time.


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


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?


Written in the present tense, which is awkward and unengaging, brimfuls of technological deus ex machina remove all tension from an already slow plot-line. The characters are interesting, hence the two stars, but even they felt lacking and emotionally disengaged from their own story, which had the futile makings of something original.The ending is atrocious, preceded by wastelands of chapter-length explanation, and a fairy-tale misinterpretation of Neurolinguistics that seems to have been written solely to remind us that not everyone is cut out to be a scientist, as some people must invariably grow up to write pop-fiction.If you're looking for cyberpunk, read Altered Carbon


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.


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.


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!

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:


This is one I had been meaning to read for years, and from all the raving reviews I had set myself up to expect something exceptional. I'm not going to say I was disappointed. I guess from the nature of allthe raves I shouldn't have expected anything other than what it was: rollicking, techy, punky, lots of action. If these are your ingredients for a must-read, then by all means get off your butt and read this now!Stephenson's cyberpunk vision, the Metaverse, is bang-on to what you would expect, and makes William Gibson's cyberspace seem cartoonish and fake (in all fairness to Gibson, Neromancer was written long before the internet was the way it is now).Me being a UNIX systems analyst, and an former online gaming junkie, I absolutely loved the Metaverse, with its coded rules, gorilla daemons and cleanup daemons. Very cool stuff and very, um, realistic,from a sys-admin's point of view. Oh, and the Rat-things rocked.Very entertaining novel, however, it was missing some key ingredients that constitute a must-read for me.For one, I felt complete apathy towards the characters. I also wasn't overly keen on the story development, and the drawn-out Sumerian mythology was getting tiresome. Normally when theology mixes with science fiction I'm glued to the pages, but somehow I was rapidly losing interest here. Snow Crash is a favorite for many though, and I can't not recommend it. Try it for yourself. If you're still hanging in with rapt attention halfway through, you'll enjoy the whole thing.

Ben Babcock

I entered the Metaverse ignorant of the fact that Snow Crash was first published in 1992 (i.e., pre-Internet). Hence, it took some time for the book to endear itself to me, because my reaction to the Metaverse, a virtual reality, was filtered through my experiences with the Internet. As such, I first found Neal Stephenson's depiction of virtual reality as camp, reminding me much of Net Force and its ilk. In other words, Snow Crash presents a dated version of cyberpunk. I had to compensate for my exposure to more advanced technology before I could enjoy this book.The plot of Snow Crash entranced me once I figured out what was going on. Aside from the fact that Stephenson reveals it mostly through exposition, the plot and themes were quite interesting. While I suspect he was quite liberal in his interpretation of Sumerian history, he nevertheless weaves that interpretation into a compelling story, complete with heroism, high-risk sword combat, and crazy technological gambits to take over the world. The book has nary a dull moment, beginning with an epic pizza delivery (yes, pizza delivery can be epic when the Mafia owns your pizza franchise!) and concluding with a helicopter/aircraft carrier battle and escape. Somewhere along the way, Stephenson infuses archaeology and a little linguistic mysticism ... and it works, which may be the most surprising observation of all.The primary protagonist, named Hiro Protagonist for reasons I never quite comprehended, isn't a great character. He's an uncomfortable mix of competent and idiotic, and his relationship with the Love Interest, Juanita, is uninteresting. As an Action Hero, Hiro works. He can swordfight and program. In this respect, I think that Snow Crash's target audience, the wannabe-cool hackers of the '90s, would identify a great deal with Hiro. Now, however, he just seems obnoxious.The secondary protagonist, Y.T., is more interesting. She's a fifteen-year-old street smart skater (a Kourier) who's smarter and perhaps even bolder than Hiro. Maybe it was her gender, or her youth, or just the fact that I liked her better than Hiro, but I always felt more concerned when she was captured by the villain than when Hiro's life was threatened.My favourite part of Snow Crash, however, lies in the secondary characters, namely Uncle Enzo, L. Bob Rife, and the Librarian. Uncle Enzo is the head of the Mafia, which is the epitome of a "family business." He befriends Y.T. (and, by extension, Hiro), transforming slowly from unknown quantity to respected ally. The reader is led to believe at first that Uncle Enzo may be a potential antagonist, but we then learn that's not the case; Enzo plays a pivotal role in the climax leading to our protagonists' triumph over the villainous L. Bob Rife.Rife represents a particularly nasty form of capitalism, one which compromises the wellbeing of its workers in order to exploit maximum profits. Rife recognizes the instability of his business, however, and stumbles across a way to solve the problem: he intends to remake the world by rewriting the infrastructure of our brains. Within the context of the story, the threat seems believable. And with Rife's monopoly on telecommunications, beating him is a tall order. Fortunately, Hiro has help on his side: a wise sidekick in the form of a program called the Librarian.The Librarian is the primary vehicle of exposition for Snow Crash's main plot, although Hiro himself explains to us the entire, assembled puzzle closer to the climax of the story. One could also make the argument that the Librarian is the direct hero of Snow Crash, since he reads out the syllables that foil Rife's plans. My distaste for excess exposition aside, I enjoyed the Librarian. He was a nifty guy.A shout-out to Fido, aka Rat Thing number B-782! Unfortunately for Fido, Stephenson's ability to incorporate disparate characters can occasionally lose coherence. He introduces several minor characters who turn out to have absolutely zero bearing on the plot itself; sometimes he does this fort he sake of perspective, i.e., we get to see the character's reaction to something Hiro or Y.T. does. This is occasionally effective but mostly feels redundant, as in the scene when Hiro buys a motorcycle.A larger problem with Snow Crash is the resolution, or lack thereof. The climax is satisfactory, but the book abruptly concludes without much wrap-up. Although I wouldn't want a lengthy Lord of the Rings-style thirty page epilogue, I was looking forward to some closure regarding the future of Hiro, Juanita, and Y.T. Do Hiro and Juanita live happily ever after? Do Hiro and Y.T. stay in business together? Does Da5id ever recover from the Snow Crash virus? Unfortunately, we don't get the answers to those questions.Snow Crash is all the more impressive today, now that we have a working sort of "Metaverse" (the Internet) to compare to Stephenson's model. While its flaws are somewhat obvious, they mar the book more as an artistic work than as an entertainment device. Stephenson depicts a wonderfully exaggerated post-capitalist dystopia, where the Mafia delivers pizzas to "burbclaves" and bulletproof cars are a must. I suspect that if similar works dealing with simulated reality, such as The Matrix, hadn't launched when they did, Snow Crash would have been made into a successful film.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *