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Snow crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow crash (original 1992; edition 1992)

by Neal Stephenson

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14,629254137 (4.15)518
Title:Snow crash
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, meh

Work details

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)

  1. 222
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (moonstormer)
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    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (davesmind, jbgryphon, Anonymous user)
    davesmind: Although Snow Crash is a classic of cyberpunk, I think Ready Player One has a more captivating story - especially if you played video games in the 80's
    jbgryphon: RPO's OASIS owes it's existence as much to Neil Stephenson's Metaverse as to the miriad of geek universes that are included in it.
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    Neuromancer by William Gibson (thebookpile)
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    Halting State by Charles Stross (infiniteletters)
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    The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (atrautz)
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    The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod (Noisy)
    Noisy: Anarchy viewed from both sides of the fence. 'Snow Crash' offers the capitalist view and 'The Star Fraction' offers the socialist counterpart.
  10. 20
    Omnitopia Dawn: Omnitopia #1 by Diane Duane (pammab)
    pammab: To explore the possibilities of virtual reality in the near future. Duane's is much more traditional and pro-corporate fantasy; Stephenson's is more humor-based anti-corporate cyberpunk.
  11. 10
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    City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams (romula)
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    This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities by Jim Rossignol (infiniteletters)
  16. 00
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    vwinsloe: Cyberpunk
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    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (Torikton)

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» See also 518 mentions

English (248)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (253)
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
OK. I really enjoyed this book. The main characters are very well written and sarcastically funny. There were a lot of laugh out loud moments for me. The story line is way out there and plenty interesting enough that you just have to finish it.
It took me a very long time to finish this book though. It is just full of useless information. I found myself sitting there saying WTF! quite often. I also didn't care for the way it threaded religion into the story ... borderline blasphemous?? Overall I really liked it and I'm glad that it was recommended to me. It is definitely not something I would have picked up on my own but I'm sure I'll be recommending it now. :) ( )
  LenaR0307 | May 30, 2016 |
When I first started it, I was totally into it. I love cyberpunk and virtual realities and swords and spunky teenagers and futuristic dystopic worlds. I really enjoyed the first three quarters of the book. Solid characters, solid plot, solid writing.

It just got a little long. The last quarter, while not bad at all, was difficult for me to trudge through because I was just tired of the whole thing. That would have to be my main critique, though I'm not sure exactly what it is.

But I really liked Hiro and I really liked YT and I really liked the world. The plot is super indepth with lots of interesting history and mythology and quirks. Raven was a bit cliche at first, but after a while I enjoyed his presence as well. Uncle Enzo is cool. I don't particularly care for Juanita, and don't understand her appeal. Luckily, she's not in a lot of the book.

Overall a solid cyberpunk read, would recommend to other fans of the genre. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | May 26, 2016 |
snow crash
1. when a computer crashes at such a fundamental level that it can no longer control the CRT in the monitor, thus the monitor displays a screen of static.

The United States is a thing of the past. The west coast has been carved up by private organizations and entrepreneurs. Gated, heavily guarded communities have become their own sovereign territories. What little remains of the government is limited to small enclaves. Things are just this side of anarchy. Hyperinflation has devalued the dollar so that people use trillion dollar bills or cyber currency. That hyperinflation as had a negative impact on most of the rest of the world as well causing refugees to flee in the hope that someplace else, any place else, may be better. Only virtual reality offers an escape from reality. That is until the discovery of Snow Crash.

Hiro Protagonist's business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers" and "Greatest sword fighter in the world." But that's in the Metaverse. In reality he works as a pizza delivery guy. During a botched delivery he meets and befriends Y.T., a streetwise fifteen-year-old girl and skateboard courier. The two become partners in the intelligence business, gathering information to sell. While jacked in to the Metaverse Hiro discovers a virus that is infecting hackers both both their avatars in cyberspace and in the physical world. Soon it becomes a race to stop the spread of the virus before it's too late.

Snow Crash is a futuristic cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It has a complicated and ambitious plot covering a variety of topics: religion, the nature of language and linguistics, ancient Sumerian civilization, archaeology, computer science, virology, politics, globalization and philosophy. The most fascinating part is how Stephenson used the Sumerian myth and the Tower of Babel to create a nuerolinguistic virus. Some of the technology parts are starting to feel dated, though that's not unexpected for a book written in 1992. That said, it's amazing how culturally relevant the story is. Given the current state of politics, it is easy to imagine our society devolving in such a manner.

The characters take a little time to build. Hiro Protagonist (such a silly name) is an out of work hacker trying to make ends meet as a pizza delivery driver. Y.T., which stands for Yours Truly, is a teen aged skateboard courier. Y.T. reminds Hiro of himself when he was fifteen so he befriends her and they form an unlikely partnership. Gradually their personalities and motivations are filled in. Just as they're starting to feel like fleshed out characters, Stephenson lets it all go and they become more like cardboard cutouts used to prop up the plot by the end of the novel.

I listened to the audiobook over the course of two months during random long commutes made for work. This is definitely NOT the ideal way to get through such a complicated story. A couple times I had to look up the Sumerian myths because I had forgotten what some of the terms meant. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I enjoy mythology and did not know much about the Sumerian's prior to the novel, but it didn't help me keep the continuity of the story. The narrator, Jonathan Davies, does a great job. There were times I forgot only one person was doing the reading! ( )
1 vote Narilka | May 19, 2016 |
Review Originally Posted At: FictionForesight

Let’s start off easy…Snow Crash is full of awesome concepts: Badass mixed-race sword fighter and hacker Hiro Protagonist? Check. Plucky sidekick girl who skateboards for a living? Check. An ominous antagonist who carries a nuke in the sidecar of his motorcycle? Uh – CHECK. The future US is ran not by the government but by franchises and corporate mafias? Obviously. Fast-paced action inside a shared computer universe called the Metaverse? Yes please. A mysterious computer virus incapacitating the top hackers around the world? You know it.

Stephenson’s third full-length novel brought him to the forefront of science fiction, and it’s easy to see why. In Snow Crash, he showed an uncanny ability to extrapolate actual technologies into very robust, believable, real-world applications. The Metaverse is an interconnected virtual social space, which we see an echo of in today’s social media and MMO gaming. Stephenson also popularized the use of the word “avatar” to describe a virtual body or character. In addition, we see several technologies in the novel that are still coming into popular usage – the skateboarders use something eerily similar to the “Hovding Cyclist Airbag”. Our main character acquires a digital library and a program that is basically Google Earth. And the Snow Crash virus – our main plot point – is, in its most basic form, an internet meme.

The ugly side of all these fantastic things is that there hardly seems room in the book for anything else. Snow Crash is so jam-packed full of amazing ideas that the universe feels somehow incomplete, the characters are two-dimensional at best, and the ending – whew, don’t even get me started. We’ll come back to that in a bit.

The story takes place in a future United States, where the government has become irrelevant and the country marches to the beat of a type of “anarcho-capitalism.” People live in suburban enclaves, run by franchises such as “Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong,” and the American Mafia, who now makes a large profit from delivering pizza. The Los Angeles highways are still lined with lights, but they are patrolled by a private security with easily greased palms, and unless you are sponsored by one of the big businesses you have to fend for yourself.

Life outside the sovereignty of these megacorps is the niche that our protagonists occupy – living in storage containers, hosting underground rock shows, collecting information to sell to any interested parties. Hiro’s life in L.A. is gritty, bright, and feels a little dangerous. However, when he follows the Snow Crash trail to a massive floating raft-city off the coast of Oregon, we suddenly lose all sense of place. It’s understandable that Stephenson doesn't want to bog down the narrative, especially just before the height of the action; but there’s so much he fails to mention that would give our story a setting inside a larger, complete universe. The West Coast doesn't just exist in a cell. I grew up there, and they’d like to think that the rest of the country doesn't exist, but that’s just not true. So where is it? For that matter, how does the rest of the world react to the way Mr. Lee and the Mafiosos are running the U.S.? Couldn't tell you. As it stands, the novel provides just enough explanation to get away with it, but we still feel like our characters are just moving through a space without their feet hitting the ground.

Ah, yes, the characters. Like much of the rest of this work, they sound awesome in concept. But when it comes to creating a fully formed, three-dimensional human being, Stephenson falls short. Hiro Protagonist has little to no back-story, and his motivations for pursuing information regarding the Snow Crash virus are about as imaginative as his name. He wants to sell information about it. Oh, I guess his friend and ex-girlfriend get swept up in the plot and I think maybe Hiro goes to save them, but I don’t remember him seeming to care too much about them. The girl, Y.T., has a mother that the government captured to provide “motivation” for her, but midway through the book she gets swept up in a pointless “romance” with our nuke-toting bad guy, and becomes another damsel for Hiro to rescue. Said bad guy seems to have no real reason to be working for the evil masterminds behind the virus, other than the fact that America wronged his ancestors and his family’s lands, so…obviously America has to go. In theory, these characters have complete back-stories and complex reasons for doing the things they do, but Stephenson fails to deliver – I believe again out of the fear of getting in the way of the story (and the science behind it) itself. So instead of characters we have cardboard cutouts that move through this world simply to get us to the end of the book.

And so, we arrive at the ending. Once we've revealed who is behind Snow Crash and why it is proving so dangerous to hackers around the world, we get to have a happy ending, right? Not particularly. Everyone who can be saved is saved, there’s a sort-of shootout where early benefactors come into play again – and then everyone just goes home. Hiro and Y.T. both remain exactly the same as they have been throughout the story, no learning, or character growth, or any sense of forward progression in their lives. Snow Crash happened to them, and now they presumably just go back to things as they were before. It’s like if the Lord of the Rings had ended with Frodo throwing the ring into the mountain and then just going home. Problem solved, right? Who cares what happened at Minas Tirith?

For all its many shortcomings, Snow Crash is still a novel with a clear vision and where it does excel, it shines. The science behind the Snow Crash virus is interesting and well-researched, and the tech in the world is so well thought out that even 23 years later, it is still relevant and hardly shows its age. However, the novel as whole reads like it was written by a twenty-something grad student who had a bunch of “wouldn't it be cool if…” ideas and then threw them together into something resembling a story. I think Stephenson had yet to come into his style with this book, so I look forward to reading some of his later works, like Cryptonomicon and Anathem. In my opinion, Snow Crash might be slightly overrated, but has reached a wide audience and has clearly influence today’s technology – I’d say it’s worth your time.

Fun fact: Joe Cornish, director of 2011 feature film Attack the Block, has been signed on by Paramount Studios to write and direct a film adaptation of Snow Crash. Stephenson has warned fans that there’s no guarantee the film will ever be made.

(www.FictionForesight.com) ( )
  FictionForesight | Apr 26, 2016 |
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is science fiction at its best. The tale follows the adventures of teen skateboard courier Y.T. (Yours Truly) and pizza deliveryman Hiro Protagonist, who coincidentally, bills himself as the world's finest swordsman. Working together they discover someone is attempting to loose a deadly computer virus that might bring about the destruction of humankind as we know it.

This one has it all. Suitcase nukes, a sociopathic killer who specializes in killing with weapons of plate glass, a nuclear submarine, the Mafia, Japanese rappers, Biblical references and a virtual world (very much like Second Life and other mmorpgs) called the Metaverse.

But don't take my word for it. Check out this nifty book trailer featuring Legos and the voicework of high school English students.

http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/rBilcEhMktY&fs=1&source=uds ( )
  Steve_Coate | Apr 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
Hiro Protagonist (who has chosen his own name, of course) turns out to be entertaining company, and Mr. Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow that is as farcical as it is horrific.
Stephenson has not stepped, he has vaulted onto the literary stage with this novel.
added by GYKM | editLos Angeles Reader
A cross between Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon's Vineland. This is no mere hyperbole.
added by GYKM | editSan Francisco Bay Guardian

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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snow n. . . . 2.a. Anything resembling snow. b. The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception.

crash v....--intr. . . . 5. To fail suddenly, as a business or an economy.
---The American Heritage Dictionary

virus. . . . [L. virus slimy liquid, poison, offensive odor or taste.] 1. Venom, such as is emitted by a poisonous animal. 2. Path a. A morbid principle or poisonous substance produced in the body as the result of some disease, esp. one capable of being introduced into other persons or animals by inoculations or otherwise and of developing the same disease in them. . . . 3. fig. A moral or intellectual poison, or poisonous influence.
--The Oxford English Dictionary
First words
The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He's got esprit up to here.
Last of the freelance hackers
Greatest sword fighter in the world
Stringer, Central Intelligence Corporation
Specializing in software-related intel
(music, movies & microcode)
When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.
"Did you win your sword fight?"
"Of course I won the fucking sword fight," Hiro says. "I'm the greatest sword fighter in the world."
"And you wrote the software."
"Yeah. That, too," Hiro says.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553380958, Paperback)

From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and the Internet--incarnate as the Metaverse--looks something like last year's hype would lead you to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist--hacker, samurai swordsman, and pizza-delivery driver. When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what's a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow Crash interweaves everything from Sumerian myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse. Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:09 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In the future the only relief from the sea of logos is the computer-generated universe of virtual reality? But now a strange computer virus, called Snow Crash, is striking down hackers, leaving an unlikely young man as humankind's last hope.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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