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What Is A Snow Crash?

Sure, my 53rd book from the Time list is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

You might know that. Or maybe you don’t.

But what the heck is a “snow crash,” and how does it relate to this novel?

Great question! I never thought you would ask.

Neal Stephenson explains the term like this in his essay In the Beginning… was the Command Line:  “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’ ”.

The result might look something like what you see in the featured image.

In the novel, the “snow crash” is more than just a computer issue. It’s a drug that is being circulated in the “metaverse”—think World of Warcraft but with just people, not orcs—and will jack up both your computer and your brain.

Wasn’t there a horror film with this concept? You watch a video with a bunch of freaky images and you die a few days later? I wonder if they pulled that from Snow Crash.

My takeaway? I’ll never view my computer crashing the same way again. If you’re on a Mac, what if the little spinning beach ball was actually a spinning sphere of death that infected your eyeballs and left you slumped in your chair five minutes later?

Or, if you’re on a PC, what if the infamous blue screen was the last thing you saw before you floated off into the afterlife?

Good Lord, Robert, what a morbid post.

Anyway, like I said, a computer crash will never be the same.

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love the title Snow Crash. I am intrigued by a drug that causes the user to look like they had a snow crash (as opposed to looking high). It’s definitely scary to think about having a snow crash reaction from looking at your computer … but it seems so-o-o far-fetched in spite of (and perhaps because of) his efforts to explain how it happens. Not buying it.

    (Did I just ask for the computer daemons to strike me?? 🙂

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • I think you did. And in reference to your comment a few days ago, I’m with you. I loved how this book started, but now it’s entered Neuromancer land and feels like one big ball of sci-fi cheesiness.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  2. Sounds interesting!

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  3. I guess looking at a snow crash screen scrambles the program that controls your mind. I wonder can it be rebooted?

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  4. I HAD been wondering what the heck that title meant! Thanks, Robert.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • The most shocking thing here is that you haven’t read Snow Crash?

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  5. I’m a luddite, and now I’m really freaked out. I knew there was a good reason I don’t read sci-fi.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
  6. ktleanne #

    It does sound intriguing… think I shall add that one to my own reading list. I’m a bit concerned too as I always have dubbed the spinning wheel on the mac ‘The Whirling Beach Ball of Death’ – this puts it in a whole new context! :oS

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • Well, you might want to hold off until my review and see what you think. The more I read the book, the less I like of it. I guess it depends on how much of a “sci-fi geek” you are.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  7. Other definitions of snow crash:

    1. A car accident that happens during a blizzard.

    2. An avalanche.

    3. That horrible feeling caused by seasonal depression when there’s three feet of snow outside (or anything more than 3 inches, in my case), and we only get 3 hours of daylight (if that) every day.

    I like my third definition the best. Hahaha!

    Like

    February 20, 2013
  8. Great SciFi novel!
    Just be forewarned, this is a book that elicits very polarizing reactions. I personally loved this title; if you like Gibson’s Count Zero or Neutomancer you should love Stephenson’s cyberpunk masterpiece:)

    Like

    February 25, 2013

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  1. Merrilee Kallen

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