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

Lisa Vegan

I don’t feel like rehashing the plot. For the curious, it, or parts of it, can be found in the book’s description field, at Wikipedia, in other Goodreads members’ reviews.This was my first cyberpunk novel, and while I liked much of it, I don’t think this subgenre is my favorite. Unusually for me, I’ll start with the negatives.I didn’t feel satisfied by the ending. There was such a build up to it, but I thought it fizzled a bit, and I ended up being disappointed. Also, the story dragged at times; I think it was too long. I don’t often say that about books.Overall, the story felt like a comic book, and only a part of a comic book. What’s funny is at the end there’s a note that this was meant to be a graphic novel and that made perfect sense because that’s how it read.There was too much action, frenetic action, way too much for my taste.I do believe that at times I got confused about whether the events were taking place in the Metaverse (internet) or Reality.I felt too sad about Fido’s situation.But, I did enjoy this book, So, I have some positive things to say also.Given that is was first published in 1992, it’s rather creative and forward thinking.At times it is very, very, very funny.I love the play with words and what the author does regarding linguistics. I enjoyed the jibes at religion, capitalism, government, bureaucracy, hackers & programmers, adolescence, so many facets of our culture, of civilization itself.Y.T. is such a fun character; I enjoyed her immensely.And, Hiro Protagonist must be one of the best fictional names ever created!If there had been just a reasonable amount of editing and a better ending I might have given it one more star.I read this for one of my Goodreads groups and I’m really glad that I did; it’s been on my to-read shelf for a while.


In a time in the not so distance future where the federal government of the United States has yielded most of its power to private organizations and entrepreneurs, franchising individual sovereignty reigns supreme. Merchant armies complete national defence, highway companies compete for drivers and the mafia own the pizza delivery game. Hiro Protagonist, “Last of the freelance hackers and greatest swordfighter in the world”, finds himself without his pizza delivery job when a young skateboard “Kourier” named Y.T. tries to hitch a ride on his vehicle. Leading them on a grand scale adventure trying to uncover just what exactly Snow Crash is.Like all of Neal Stephenson books, you can expect this one to cover subjects like history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, and philosophy, all while keeping to his cyberpunk thriller style. He says this book was named after the early mac software failure mode:“When the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set—a ‘snow crash’”His goal, was to take the reader on a “full tour of Sumerian culture, a fully instantiated anarcho-capitalist society, and a virtual meta-society patronized by financial, social, and intellectual elites.” Snow Crash is a pseudo-narcotic or is it something far worse; Hiro and Y.T (short for Yours Truly) slowly discover that it is in fact a computer virus capable of infecting the brains of careless hackers in the Metaverse (the successor to the internet) and a mind altering virus in reality.One of the things I liked most about Snow Crash was the fact that Neal Stephenson showed us how to write a kick ass teenage girl protagonist. Young Adult novels like to use a strong teenaged girl as a main character but few of them really know how to make her great; most are just Katniss clones. While Y.T’s narrative wasn’t as focused as that of Hiro, it was more of a pleasure to read, she seemed to accomplish the most in the entire book and she did it her own way without compromising her character. Sure, she did manage to get into some trouble and make some bad choices but she’s human, I expect them to struggle and fall and recover from their mistakes.While this was a fun and exciting novel there are some things that I just didn’t like; firstly each ethical group portrayed the stereotypical extreme. The mafia, the rednecks from New South Africa, the Pentecostals, Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong and so on, all felt very much like the cliché versions of these cultures and Stephenson played on the stereotypes a little too heavily. I know they were only minor plot arcs but it still felt like it was overdone. The most interesting people in the book are the ones living outside their cultural and ethnic groups; Hiro, Y.T and Raven.Then there is my biggest problem with the book, which is a similar problem I had with Reamde and that is I feel like Neal Stephenson turns some chapters into a Wikipedia articles just to give us all the interesting information he has on a subject he is exploring. In this book it is every time the librarian talks, there is heaps and heaps of interesting, and sometimes irrelevant, information and the way Stephenson tried to stops it become and wall of text is the awkward attempt to make it sound like a conversation. Hiro keeps interrupting the librarian’s information with very simplified reiteration, agreements and metaphors, I found it incredible annoying.Overall this was a fast paced cyber thriller with some weird and unusual tangents and twists. Stephenson has some interesting ideas about the future of the world but for some reason I never feel a strong connection to his books. I think I prefer William Gibson’s style and take on the future cyber world but can’t fault Stephenson for what he does. Not that I’ve read many books from this author and there are plenty more I want to read, maybe I just feel like he over simplifies and draws his novels out a little too much.This review originally appeared on my blog;


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 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.


** spoiler alert ** I've decided to review this book as I read it. Sort of like live-blogging but not as pretentious or douchey sounding.First and I guess foremost you have to understand that I read slowly. Like if people knew how slowly I read they would be like "that guy's retarded, and I don't mean in the offensive way that my friends are retarded." So I've been reading it for a week now and I'm not quite a hundred pages in and this is what I've learned so far.The main character's name is Hiro Protagonist, which is either inexcusably lazy or unimaginably genius. He's a shiftless lay-about with no steady work despite being pretty damn smart. The feeling I get is that he doesn't like working for The Man. All of that changes when he enters The Matrix. Except it's called The Metaverse in this book, but it's the same thing. A digital world where people appear as they want rather than as they are. Hiro's avatar wears a black leather kimono and samurai swords.His friends thus far are Da5id (that's not a misspelling, I've been pronouncing it duh-five-id), Juanita (whom he used to date and clearly still harbors feeling for, as evidenced by the fact that instead of going to her and Da5id's wedding he got drunk and arrested [in that order] instead) and a the mysterious Kourier (also not a misspelling) Y.T., which stands for Your Truly but everyone thinks she is saying Whitey.In this future/present that Stephenson has crafted Corporations rule the world and the dollar has been hyper-inflated to the point that people conduct small transactions with Quadrillion dollar notes. Facts he continually reiterates by mentioning things like the Central Intelligence Corporation of Langley, Virginia; MetaCops Unlimited (phone number: 1-800-THE-COPS); Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong; Admiral Bob's National Security; General Jim's Defense System and so on. I've mentioned my dislike for that kind of repetitive insinuation before, in my review for The Last Templar. You only have to tell me once or twice, but dedicating an entire chapter to Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza and the 4-year university you have to attend to be a Deliverator for them is what I call overkill. It's humorous to an extent, but I get it. It's like when you're reading a Star Wars book and they use a reference in the book along the lines of "a vibro-blade cutting through ferrocrete" - I KNOW I'm reading a Star Wars book, you don't have to keep pounding it into my head.That's my only complaint so far, but it's a big one for me. I almost switched to something else on my list, but we're finally getting to the plot of the book. Which I guess I should talk about. Keep in mind that I just barely got there, but this is what I know so far: Someone or some group has developed a digital drug called Snow Crash.That's it, that's all I know. Well, that and Juanita came back to warn Hiro not to fuck around with it, but she was pretty vague.I'll update in a few days with my next installment.--UPDATE:Welcome back, friends. I have crested 200 pages and the story has become more interesting.New Characters (That matter):Raven (drug dealing, nuclear psychopath)Uncle Enzo (seemingly good-hearted Leader of The American Mafia)L. Bob Rife (Fiber-Optics Monopolist and Cult Leader, Stephenson is openly mocking L. Ron Hubbard with this character)Finally, after about 115 pages, Stephenson finishes the setup for the action of the book. 90% of the major players have been introduced and expanded upon. Most of these individulas have met and/or interacted in some way. If this book was a stew of some sort then the characters are the mirepoix and the inevitable collision of their individual worlds is the roux. The plot then thickens.Culinary metaphors aside, the book has become very intense. There are some serious religious overtones in the text. There are portions that are very clearly anti-religion and others that make a strong argument regarding the importance of faith and religion. Maybe I'm reading to much into it, but Stephenson seems to be airing his personal doubts and internal struggle regarding religion. He clearly hates cults and cult-like organizations trying to pass themselves off as the righteous, but feels very strongly about the roots of Christianity. He never preaches to the reader though.The Mafia seems to be the only organization in the book that cares about the quality of life of the American people that can't afford to live in privately funded and secure neighborhoods. Normal people. The government is too busy watching its own people to be effective, the local governments of the Burbclaves only care about their residents, the cops are basically for hire by anyone and the Enforcers are Agents of Order. They will protect anyone to maintain order, there is no good or evil there is only chaos and order. So the Mafia watches over mostly everyone else. They clean up the streets and keep the criminals and derelicts in the periphery. But make no mistake, they will use any means necessary to accomplish their goals. In that, they are similar to the mafia we know from watching DeNiro/Pacino movies, however the Mafia in this book is a corporation. Sure it started as a "family business", but in Stephenson's world anyone, regardless of race, creed or religion, can be in the Mafia. They even recruit at university job fairs. They still search for people with a certain moral ambiguity that allows them to rationalize doing what needs to be done without questioning whether or not it's just. And in a society where it seems the moral compass of most people has been skewed in one way or another there is an abundance of applicants.Raven is a cyber-drug dealer and a nuclear sovereign. He's his own country and he has nuclear first strike capabilities, so nobody really fucks with him. The Enforcers protect him from all the people that want him dead because he has a neural detonator for his nukes. If he dies, so does everyone else basically. Raven is the catalyst that brings the characters together. He is enabling the epidemic of Snow Crash and the Mafia has discovered a connection between his drugs and one of the larger church conglomerates in America, Reverend Wayne's Pearly Gates. Mob Boss Uncle Enzo enlists the help of his new friend* Y.T. to intercept shipments of the drug, so that they can test it and, I assume, find a way to counteract its heinous effects. Hiro and Juanita are investigating the ties between L. Bob Rife's raft cult (which is exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of Raft's lashed to his aircraft carrier. Oh yeah, he bought an aircraft carrier to use as his personal mobile headquarters) and Snow Crash. As of yet, Hiro and Juanita's quest haven't intersected with The Mafia's, but it's only a matter of time, I'm sure.(* In the very first chapter of the book Hiro is working as a Deliverator for an Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza franchise and deliverator's who fail to deliver a pizza in 30 minutes or less don't live to tell the tale. You see, this society is hyper sue-happy and if one's pizza is late it opens Uncle Enzo's [and subsequently, The Mafia] to an unknowable amount of litigation and they take out that frustration on the deliverator. Anyway, Hiro crashes into a swimming pool during a delivery and Y.T. saves his and the mafia's asses by completing the pizza delivery. The reason she decided to help everyone is that Hiro's crash was partly her fault and she felt guilty, but also because the Mafia would owe her a favor. This is how Y.T.'s relationship with the mafia began)**UPDATE**Page 262Every page since I last left you has been about the history of Sumer and its gods. They keep equating Enki's semen to water and how he made rivers by masturbating furiously. It's all very confusing and I don't really know what this has to do with drugs and computer viruses.Somehow, I'm powering through.Please stay tuned.UPDATEI finally finished reading this god forsaken book. I found it to contain moments of sheer awesomeness surrounded by bigger moments of tedium. The whole end part was bad ass though. High speed motorcycle chase/knife fight/bombing/robotic-dog mauling. High quality. People who are smarter than me and have more patience (mostly everyone) would probably enjoy this more than me.


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


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.


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.


A friend just gave me back my ages-old copy of this book, three years after I had forgotten that I had lent it to him. I am overjoyed to have this back in my possession. So much so that I feel compelled to immediately reread it. That is just how good this book is.***Post reread***The problem with reading Neal Stephenson is that you can not help coming to the realization that, no matter how hard you try, how dedicated to the craft you become, you will never write anything as fully formed, as intricately detailed and impeccably researched or as purely fun as Snow Crash. Give up, all ye purveyors of mediocre science fiction, Stephenson owns you. At least that was the impression that I had while reading the book. All of my own half-hearted attempts all stand out as poor homages to this masterwork.From the postnational aspect of citizenry to civilization's basis in codified behavior to brain-twisting explanations of the physics of virtual samurai duels, Stephenson has thought everything through down to the pico level of detail and left no loose ends dangling. When he is describing Nuclear Fuzz Grunge, you have to believe that somewhere in his office there exists an evolutionary chart that traces the development of this niche musical genre, much as Tolkien formed the intricate lineages of his elves. Anyone familiar with Stephenson's more recent books, The Baroque Cycle, Anathem, or Cryptonomicon, is well aware of his skill at cramming as much as possible detail into every page, but it's here in Snow Crash (and his follow-up, The Diamond Age) where he really just lets loose and has fun. A pissed off Aleut who drives around on a motorcycle with a hydrogen bomb sidecar, a smart-mouthed skater chick who rides the miles of highways in LA, the Mafia as a quirky group of good guys- Stephenson is clearly having a great time while writing this, nearly as much as any reader will have. I really don't think that I could recommend this book any higher.

mark monday

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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.


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.


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

Erich Franz Guzmann

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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!).


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.

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