Top positive review
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Much more than just Cyberpunk
on 15 November 2012
"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?"
Snow Crash has one of the most effective opening hooks in science fiction, a loving description of a high-tech armored driver and car. A man with a mission. A man with wonderful high-tech toys and samurai swords, who works for the Mafia doing one of the few things that the United States still does better than any other country in the world.
High-speed pizza delivery.
It's a beautiful setup, even if the pizza delivery job doesn't last far beyond the opening pages. It introduces the reader to Hiro Protagonist ("Stupid name." "But you'll never forget it."), the skateboard courier Y.T., and some of the major players and political structure of Stephenson's future Los Angeles. Even better, it effectively introduces Stephenson's off-beat world, in which things like Mafia-owned pizza chains and franchised private countries guarded by dogs with nuclear power packs not only prompt an amazed chuckle, they start to make a bizarre amount of sense.
Then there is the Metaverse, the cyberpunk on-line shared world that pretty much everyone spends some time in.It has the standard mix of avatars, private offices, elaborate shared spaces, constant advertising, dangerous computer viruses, elite hackers, and guarded corporate havens. It emerges that Snow Crash is both a drug and a virus: it destroyed ancient Sumeria by randomizing their language to create Babel; its modern victims speak in tongues, lose their critical faculties, and are easily brainwashed.
Cyberpunk's next generation pretty much began here.Snow Crash is to Books as The Matrix is to movies, It was written in 1991. 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.
Stephenson's characters approach an insane, satirical world with an sarcastic attitude, full of choice comments and well-timed skewering of idiots. I really liked Uncle Enzo's ( head of Cosa Nostra Pizza delivery) Mafia philosophy.
The stuff about neuro-linguistic viruses which he ties to Sumerian mythology and the Tower of Babel is a fascinating concept. You don't need to be a geek or into computers to enjoy this book. It got a quick pace,there a lot believable characters in a believable near future and it's a lot of fun.