Next Up: Snow Crash
Here’s how the Wikipedia entry to Snow Crash opens:
“Snow Crash is Neal Stephenson’s third novel, published in 1992. Like many of Stephenson’s other novels it covers history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics, and philosophy.”
Um, okay. It sounds like Bill Bryson might have been thinking of Snow Crash when he wrote A Short History Of Nearly Everything.
I’ve been told that I’ll enjoy Snow Crash—which is my second foray into science fiction on the list—much more than Neuromancer. Let’s hope so, because that bar is pretty low.
The good news is that I’m 30ish pages into the book, and I’m loving it so far. The main character’s name is “Hiro Protagonist.” How can you not love that?
Anyway, here’s a little about Snow Crash and its author, Neal Stephenson:
- Published in 1992, Snow Crash is one of the most recent novels on the Time list.
- It was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award in 1993, and the Arthur C. Clarke award in 1994.
- The term, avatar, which we still use today, became popular after it was used in Snow Crash, though the term didn’t originate in the novel.
- In June 2012, news broke that the novel would receive a film adaptation by director Joe Cornish and Paramount Studios.
- The novel has been called a parody of the cyberpunk genre (so let me get this straight: Snow Crash is a parody of Neuromancer? Sound interesting.)
- Neal Stephenson has written a crapload of novels, but Snow Crash was his first big success. He’s also written plenty of nonfiction for magazines like Wired.
- Unlike most authors who have a novel on this list, Stephenson is still alive and kicking and living in Seattle. He’s 54.
So what did Time say about the novel?
Stephenson is that rare—no, unique—thing, both a virtuosic literary stylist and a consummate observer of a brave new world where information flows freely between humans and computers, to the point where the two are no longer easily distinguishable.
One final, and intimidating thought, about Snow Crash. Here’s how Wikipedia sums up the plot (and I know I shouldn’t trust Wikipedia). Maybe this is just bad writing, but…
The book presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain. According to characters in the book, the goddess Asherah is the personification of a linguistic virus, similar to a computer virus. The god Enki created a counter-program which he called a nam-shub that caused all of humanity to speak different languages as a protection against Asherah (a re-interpretation of the ancient Near Eastern story of the Tower of Babel).
What just happened?
Any thoughts on Snow Crash? Please tell me I won’t hate it. I don’t think I will.