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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.

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I doubt Snow Crash will top your list. However, you should enjoy the writing more than you did Nueromancer. I enjoyed the story, though the nam-sub v Asherah revelations confused me. Plus there are swords…always a bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2013
  2. Stephenson is one of my favorite authors. And if I haven’t read all of his novels yet, it’s only because they tend to be incredibly long and dense–but all the better for it. I tend to come away from his books feeling like I’ve learned something. It’s been awhile since I’ve read (well, listened to) Snow Crash but I remember enjoying it. Like Greg, I doubt this will end up at the top of your list, but it will probably be much higher than Neuromancer. Enjoy!

    Like

    January 31, 2013
  3. This is next on my TBR list, too! I picked up a copy after reading the abysmal Ready, Player One. I’ll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

    Like

    January 31, 2013
  4. If I were the author, I’d clean up the Wikipedia entry. As a reader, I would never pick up the book based on that plot description.

    Like

    January 31, 2013
  5. Rob #

    Snow Crash is a lot of fun, especially the first half, but unfortunately Stephenson chose a conflict so ridiculously convoluted that it starts to take full chapters of exposition to explain it.

    Like

    January 31, 2013
  6. Dominick Sabalos #

    I wanted to just wish you viel Spaß beim Buch and lay off pre-emptively defense/criticism of a book I personally really like until after you’d finished it (or at least made up your mind). But since the horse has bolted..

    I really like Snow Crash, but it does get a bit bogged down in the second half just explaining itself. To be fair, I really enjoy all the stuff it is explaining (as it seems clear Stephenson did) but still it slows things down. For what it’s worth, I’ve also read that plot summary on Wikipedia in the past and wished someone less lazy than myself would come along to edit it into something readable.

    Don’t worry based on that summary though. If you like the name Hiro Protagonist (and who wouldn’t, really?) there should be plenty in the book for you to like. Like sword fights. And big boats with lots of little boats glued to them. And Fido!

    Like

    February 4, 2013

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  1. Book #53: Snow Crash | 101 Books

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