Snow Crash

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

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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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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:

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.


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


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.


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.


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?

Julia Gay

This book is awful. Never ever read it. It's mastubatory shit written by a self-absorbed pseudo academic with a lolita syndrome or ephebophilia. I can't really decide which. Read Neuromancer instead.


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.

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