Aside from several dry, lengthy passages on reinterpretations of Sumerian mythology, this is a genuinely fun read. Stephenson writes great action scenes, his characters are larger than life, and his ideas leave you with plenty to think about.
Finally, a cyberpunk novel I really liked! Stephenson's story is intelligent and funny, introducing a futuristic America that is warped but believable. An example? Hitchhiking high speed skaters that attach themselves to moving vehicles with metallic/electronic detachable hooks, enabling them to choose a vehicle moving at the speed and in the direction the hiker wants to travel and easily switch over to a new and better 'victim' whenever necessary. And, Stephenson is able to make me care about what happens to his characters. I find that unusually refreshing in such a techno-novel; usually characters in cyberspace stories seem to me to be detached and remote from the reader.
Our hero is named, appropriately enough, Hiro Protagonist, and he has the requisite antisocial coolness and attitude to fit into this genre comfortably yet still manages not to alienate the reader. I could identify and sympathize with his situations and really root for him.
I wish Neal Stephenson would write more adventures of Hiro and his virtual and real worlds.
Not only is this a really entertaining read, but I was amazed at how well the virtual computer world descriptions hold up, even 16 years after the book was written. A superb job by a very talented writer.
I enjoyed the second half of this book. He throws a lot of information (some critics call it "info-dumping") at the reader, which jars the reader out of the story. The information, for the most part is interesting, but needed to be more integrated into the story line to keep the flow more seamless. The main characters are fairly interesting and when the story isn't being interrupted by the previously mentioned info-dumps moves along at an exciting pace.
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villian threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately." (back of book)
Excellent read - virtual reality, Sumerian myth, corporate/city states, the Mafia as a business concern with a pizza delivery empire - and all that as just background to a samurai sword wielding hero named Hiro. Just loved it.
I love when books inspire you to read others. Like the author gets you twice, reading their book and then reading books they like. Stephenson did that for me with Snow Crash and I recommend to anyone. I recommended to my dad and he doesn't even read.
Fascinating look at a USA that's no longer a United States, but a country made of many different burbclaves, CostraNostra Pizza, roads that used to be state & interstate road, etc. Our main character, Hiro Protagonist, and a Kourier named Y.T. become involved in a saving the world - both real and virtual - from a hacker. This book is intriguing and holds your attention all the way through. Someone more familiar with computer coding/hacking may get more out of this than I did, but I loved it.
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash has been called "cyberpunk with a sense of humor," and that may well be the best way to describe it because it touches on both the strengths and weaknesses of this terrific book. I haven't read a book in years that's as fun as this one: it's full of believable scientific concepts that take satirical jabs at everything from the Internet to business franchises. The plot is rather thin, in a Hollywood fashion â" even to the point where it ends with a chase scene, a shootout, a hostage standoff between the good guys and bad guys, and a happy ending. But in spite of this weakness, the weird characters (especially Y.T. the RadiKs Kourier) pull the reader through the story at a breakneck pace. The story is also hilariously funny, and that's a real plus when compared to most of those other doom-and-gloom "future anarchy" stories.
The story takes place in an America of the future, where corporatization, franchise, and the economy in general have spun wildly out of control. The United States is no more, having fractured when its ecnomy collapsed; in its place is a series of city-states, each run by its own big business franchise (such as "Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong"). The Internet, or "Netherverse" as it's called here, permeates everything; Stephenson's vision of how a virtual-reality based Internet might evolve over the next few decades seems hilariously accurate. But a new drug, called Snow Crash, is sweeping across the countryâ¦while at the same time a computer virus with the same name is beginning to take a foothold in the computer-generated world. This is the first virus to actually make the leap from the virtual world to the real one (as we see when uber-hacker Da5id carelessly opens it up), and it has the potential to wreak havoc like no virus has ever done before.
Into this crazy world come the ostensible heroes of the story. The major character in the series is a slacker hacker with the erstwhile name of Hiro Protagonist; but the real hero is a streetwise young RaDiKs Kourier named Y.T. The pair find themselves thrown together in a wild plot involving ancient Sumerian artifacts, huge floating raft colonies overflowing with mindless cult zombies, the Nipponese rapper Sushi K, the Mafia pizza delivery service, Rat Things, and Raven. Raven is the bad guyâ¦and he's not just a bad guy, he's THE bad guy. When the reader encounters Raven for the first time, he gets a good idea of why no one in the story wants to mess around with this guy.
Even though the plot of the novel plows into the reader's brain like an illegal DivX movie download on a T3 line, Stephenson actually spends a good third of the novel or more taking the reader on an extensive, impeccably researched history of ancient Sumeria, while theorizing upon the origins of language and their relationship to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The deeper meaning of the novel can be summed up with a quote from William S. Burroughs: "Language is a virus from outer space."
One of the premiere cyberpunk novels, it embodies everything that's best about the genre.
I generally have very little tolerance for the hackneyed "stop the evil drug pushers" type of plotline, but Stephenson manages to do it with a degree of originality - not to mention wit and verve - that overcomes any possible objections I might have had. The mix of near-future 'underground' high-tech and ancient Sumerian mythology is also an aesthetic combination that really appeals to me.
Of course, the basic premise behind that mix - which is essential to the plot - isn't one I'm really logically going to get behind. (Can't really discuss it without spoilers. All I can say is that it seems that Stephenson read some fairly theoretical stuff on the origins of human consciousness - and ran with it from there.) However, I don't believe Stephenson means for it to be taken as a serious 'what if' scenario - just as he does not truly expect the Mafia to be a major world power/corporation/gang in the near-future... but his exaggerated portrayals make incisive - and funny - social commentary. Nearly 15 years down the line, some of it feels a tiny bit dated - but it's still a great book.
The opening scene alone (the pizza delivery) would make reading this book worthwhile...
And the team of Hiro Protagonist ("Stupid name." "But you'll never forget it.") the unemployed hacker/virtual samurai/wanna-be rock band manager - and the precocious teenager Y.T. (imagine the secret life of every kid who has to pretend to be a 'good girl' at home - x10)- simply rocks.
That's kinda the secret to Snow Crash's success. It's well written - fairly literary even - reasonably complex... but it's also just simply cool.
Excellent book, I can't believe I never got around to reading it until now. Great cyberpunk, I enjoyed it just as much as early William Gibson but Stephenson puts his own spin on the theme to make it distinct from Gibson. Highly recommended, I think that I will keep this one to re-read every few years.
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warror prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous..you'll recognize it immediately.