Sunday, March 07, 2010

10.09 Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash (1992) by Neal Stephenson

"Snow Crash is a well-crafted, tongue-in-cheek romp through a near-future America so familar, one expects to see its characters chasing each other down the street.

Set mostly in geographic California with arterial highways delivering consumers to the fast food, faster shopping, and even small country franchises, a very modern, ancient Sumerian virus is turning hackers and non-hackers alike into tongue-speaking refugees.

Throw in the Metaverse, Stephenson's version of the global information structure. A three-dimensional audio and visual hallucination built around the mystical powers-of-two, cartoon physics rule the day. Rent a cheap avatar for a stroll down the main street. Ride your motorcycle at 300 km/h and bounce harmlessly off of a 20-mile square building. Just don't read the scroll held by the Bland Angel of Judgment.

Further complicating matters is a slew of divergent and entertaining characters. Your guide through this journey is the unlikely Hiro Protagonist (no, really!), a once and future hacker wonderboy who took off before the IPO and now delivers pizza for the Mafia (thirty minutes or less or you're fired). Joining him is the ever resourceful Y.T., a teenaged Kourier skateboarding her way through traffic by harpooning cars.

Want more? How about the surprisingly boyish Uncle Enzo, head of aformentioned Mafia, or L. Bob Rife, fantastically wealthy crank, founding funder of Rife Bible College and current owner of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier. Perhaps you'd like to meet Mr. Lee, proprietor of Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong Franchise, or stop to pet Rat Thing, a supersonic isotope-powered cybernetic pit bull. Pushing forward the plot is a Metaverse librarian and Raven, a one-man killing machine and nuclear power.

Sounds serious? Perhaps. Complicated? Enjoyably so."

chromatic on Slashdot

Snow Crash is one of the must-reads on the essential geek reading list. I'd been meaning to revisit it for awhile given the fact we are now coming up on 20 years since it's publication. While still super entertaining the book is showing it's age coming from the early internet era and having a sort of gee-whiz feeling about all things tech.

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