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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash (1992)

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,796287191 (4.13)573
  1. 232
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (moonstormer)
  2. 130
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (davesmind, jbgryphon)
    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.
  3. 90
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (thebookpile)
  4. 50
    Count Zero by William Gibson (thebookpile)
  5. 50
    The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (atrautz)
  6. 51
    Daemon by Daniel Suarez (thehoodedone)
  7. 62
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (JFDR)
  8. 41
    Halting State by Charles Stross (infiniteletters)
  9. 20
    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
    The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod (bsackerman)
  12. 10
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (ecureuil)
  13. 00
    Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Cyberpunk
  14. 11
    City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams (romula)
  15. 11
    This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities by Jim Rossignol (infiniteletters)
  16. 22
    Virtual Light by William Gibson (Moehrendorf)

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» See also 573 mentions

English (282)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (287)
Showing 1-5 of 282 (next | show all)
After reading some of the negative reviews of Snow Crash, I guess I'm one of the rare birds who liked it precisely because of Stephenson's exposition of ancient religions and linguistics embedded in the story. Stephenson's prose is dense - another check - and very engrossing, even when he digresses upon this sci-fi meme or that one. Most of the time, I enjoy his humor, and some of the 1990s slang he uses is recognizable to those who remember those times; although, in some cases, it can make you cringe the same way as seeing bell-bottom jeans actually being worn proudly in public might.

Example: "But those dudes inside of the chopper were harshing that chick major." [Italics included in the original.] Here, a form of the adjective harsh is used as a verb meaning "to abuse" or "to vex or annoy." This usage usually applied to a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs who would complain about someone "harshing my mellow [buzz]." Also, the use of "major" as italicized was part of the same skateboard/surfer/grunge music culture of the 1990s. There is a lot of jargon like this throughout the book so I can see some readers rolling their eyes, but I think it works, unintentionally, in parallel with one of the novel's subtexts of historical linguistics.

Okay, moving on to a synopsis of the story, we have a slice of life tale disguised as a cyberpunk thriller where two main characters share the limelight: a pizza delivery guy with a backup job as "freelance stringer for the CIC [Central Intelligence Corporation]", and a 15-year-old skater chick who works as a courier. (A stringer is a news gatherer, a merchant in stolen information, a hacker. "Courier" is spelled "Kourier" in the book.) After an unlikely meeting, these two become partners and find themselves caught up in a potential world apocalyptic adventure involving an unknown street drug called Snow Crash and large violent organizations vying for power. These orgs defy easy description outside of Stephenson's world, and that is part of the allure of his book. Personally, I find his world-building abilities to be on par with Paolo Bacigalupi's and almost (almost but not quite) as good as Philip K. Dick's.

Stephenson's optimistic tone works against the seriousness of his story, and is, perhaps, another reason why some Snow Crash detractors seem to dislike it: it's as if he isn't taking the whole thing seriously. Either way you look at it, though, he is full of great ideas and his writing is smart, lively, and instructional in a wow-I-never-would-have-thought-of-that kind of way.

Also, I would not recommend Snow Crash to kids or maiden aunts due to violence and a lengthy bit of erotica near the end. ( )
1 vote ReneEldaBard | Oct 15, 2018 |

Snow Crash was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award (won by Jeff Noon's Vurt) and the BSFA Award (won by Christopher Evans' The Aztec Century); also on both of those shortlists was Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, which won the Tiptree. The Hugo for Best Novel was shared between A Fire On The Deep and Doomsday Book, the latter winning the Nebula as well; Snow Crash was on the Hugo long-list, but nowhere for the Nebula. (It did win two awards in French translation, and one in Spanish.)

This is surely one of those cases where the awards in general (and particularly across the Atlantic) failed to spot the classic in the making: Snow Crash now has more owners on LibraryThing than any two of the other books named above combined (which is why I read it; see below). I think it's much the best of them. It's the very breathless tale of Mafia pizza deliverer and swordsman Hiro Protagonist, and teenage skateboard courier Y.T., in a fractured future West Coast America where sovereignty has been downsized to micro-nation enclaves guarded by cyborg dogs, and many people spend much of their time online in the Metaverse. In the middle of all this, an evil evangelical Christian leader is planning to take mass control of human brains through a combination of the latest software developments and an ancient Sumerian curse (the Snow Crash of the title). The whole thing is packed with lore in a way that Stephenson later went overboard with. I know that Neuromancer is generally regarded in high esteem, but I have always bounced off it, and Snow Crash is the archetypal cyberpunk novel for me.

There are some points that have not aged well. The Metaverse inspired many games (including Quake and Second Life) but in fact it turns out that virtual reality is as Balkanised as the meatspace of Snow Crash, with every company and franchise holding onto its own walled gardens. I can't see this changing; perhaps some virtual spaces in the end will grow and dominate, but there isn't an underlying systemic reason for them all to unite Internet-like. It's also notable that everyone who logs into the Metaverse arrives at the same point and then must virtually travel to their desired locations, rather than logging into the place they want to be. 1993 was probably the last year that a novel like this could be written without mobile phone technology; Y.T. has to find land lines to call her mother from. You can only log into the Metaverse from fixed terminals. Stephenson's characters zoom around California at high speed, but are more tied to the ground than we are.

Also it has to be said that apart from Y.T., all the major characters are alpha males (including the cyborg dog Fido). It's a book of its time. ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 23, 2018 |
The beginning of this work really pulled me in, but as I kept going, I'm afraid I had a harder and harder time following the details and really engaging with it. It could be that I'd have loved this book in a different time and place, but as it was, there were moments I really enjoyed... but it just didn't keep a hold on me the way I needed it to, I suppose, because as much as I enjoyed the ideas and language, I'd often find my focus wandering away from the story and lose track of what was happening as a result. That's not normal for me when it comes to reading, and I'm inclined to say that there was just so much packed into this book, I couldn't quite relax into it and get engaged by the characters the way I'd have liked.

I'll try Stephenson again, and I may even try re-reading this book some day, but for now, it was just a so-so read for me. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jul 24, 2018 |
3.5/5 Stars.
Interesting book. I found individual elements very entertaining but couldn’t really grasp what was going on until the last 25% of the novel. I found Y.T’s story and character a heck of a lot more interesting than Hero’s, and found the juxtaposition of events, places, and characters confusing at times. That being said, I did read it all the way through, and I was on the whole, glad that I did. ( )
  Stewart_Hoffman | Jul 15, 2018 |
There is a lot to love about this book, especially considering when it was written. It is the epitome of a cyberpunk action thriller and hacker deification novel and there is some really interesting food for thought regarding information and the nature of thought and language. I think, though, that the latter gets a bit of a watered down treatment taking a clear backseat to the romps through technirvana playground. And similarly to my disappointment with [b:Cryptonomicon|816|Cryptonomicon|Neal Stephenson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1157396454s/816.jpg|1166797], I think the ending sucked. Lots of flash but little substance. It's like he got tired of writing and just tried to wrap things up as quickly as possible ( )
  dan4mayor | Jun 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 282 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podevin, Jean-FrançoisCover 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.)
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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.

» see all 9 descriptions

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