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Bookreview: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash

Book by Neal Stephenson

Written in 1992, Snow Crash is a cyberpunk visionary work, presaging Second Life and other online multiplayer games, among other things.

The plot: pizza delivery man, hacker, amateur swordsman, freelance intel gatherer and Metaverse legend Hiro Protagonist stumbles on a virus – a binary image that looks like the old television snowscreens – that infects not computers, but hackers; and tries to save the day. It’s a fantastic satire of the USofA, where the country has broken down into autonomous corporate sovereign entities, who open franchulates in the burbclaves, with the Narcolumbians vying for citizens with Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong, and Uncle Enzo’s Nova Scicilia, as well as Reverend Wayne’s Pearly Gates (among others).

There’s all sorts of cool stuff in here, including skateboarding Kouriers, who harpoon speeding vehicles, to get where they are going; meditations on Sumerian religion and the origins of lagnuage; psychopathic Aleuts; Kanata swords; thrash metal; religious and nuclear apocalypse. Again: among other things.

Not just candy (though it was candy); well worth a read.

My rating: 3 stars

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  1. Evan Prodromou Evan Prodromou 2007-04-29

    There’s something weirdly retro about reviewing Snow Crash in 2007.

  2. Hugh Hugh 2007-04-29

    well, i pretty much just got a computer last year.

  3. Tracey Tracey 2007-04-30

    i just finished reading it on saturday morning! It made me late for a class – but i had to finish it! It was totally fun and scarry, the only part i did not like was the fact that the girl was only 15, I would have made her 18-20.

  4. Hugh Hugh 2007-05-01

    interesting … it occurred to me too, that it was “odd” but i didn’t know what to think … what do you think of lolita? what do you think most 15yr olds would think reading this?

  5. Boris Boris 2007-05-01

    MMPORGs. Second Life is essentially based on Snow Crash. What is a place? etc.
    So what she’s 15? What’s odd about it?

  6. Hugh Hugh 2007-05-02

    “odd” that a writer in our hyper-conflicted-make-5-year-olds-look-like-britney-hookers-sex-everywhere-hyperventilate-about -pedophiles-and-child-sex-abuse-and-pretend-that-15-yr-old-girls-aren’t-interested-in-sex society would write about a 15 yr-old having sex. not odd that he’d want the character to be a 15-yr-old, but that he stuck to his guns.

    i heard a great interview with sarah polley once (years ago) talking about Lolita, and she said she loved it because it was the first time she read a credible account of young girls and sex.

    it’s something that we in North America have lots of difficulty dealing with (cf the comment above).

  7. Tracey Tracey 2007-05-04

    It is the normalization that 15 year olds are mature enough to be having sex with 40 and 50 year olds that gets to me. It is the fact women of older ages are not considered sexy, desireable, fodder for sci-fi books, in good shape, hip, and fascinating and worth fantasizing about while it seems that nubile 15 year olds having sex with 40 or 50 year olds are.

    I totally appreciate that 15 year old girls are interested in sex and appreciate people writing about it when it is empowering, and it is very contingent on who is writing and in what way! I am weary about power dynamics of such large age differences – particularly when young girls are still married off to much older men here (Church of God) and abroad (India, Africa, many parts of Asia) which brings in the question of consent. I would also say that the level of maturity attributed to the Y.T. character in the book is definitely not of a 15 year old, certainly not the ones i see a lot of these days, so why not have the maturity match the age? Would that not be better writing?

    I just do not appreciate that the main female character of this really cool book is not really the age of consent and that she gets so much leverage and can navigate so many circles in the story as a result her young good looks and the books if filled with references to that. Trust me, 50 year old good looking women do not get the same leverage! It is a cultural and societal way of consenting to ageism particularly in relation to women and reeifying youth in an objectifying and i think unhealthy way. I am also the parent of teenagers, and would prefer to not have the girls objectified this way. Just look around at popular media and age, see what the faces are and see the cash the plastic industry is raking in by making women and men feel crappy for looking the age that they are and who feel this pressure to try to maintain a bizarre sense of esthetics created by media industries so focussed on youth.

    bref-it gets to me on a couple of personal and societal levels and its is just plain annoying to see the same pattern all over the place.

  8. Tracey Tracey 2007-05-04

    one more thing! My 9 year old niece got into a fight with my sister in law who refused to purchase her 9 year old string underwear! And who the hell is manufacturing string underwear and stuffed bras for 9 year olds!

  9. Hugh Hugh 2007-05-14

    hmm, objectified? she was a kick-ass 15-yr-old character who did things on her own terms, and only had sex once (consentual) in the book, i think, with the big Aleut (of indeterminate age, but not 40 or 50, not that it makes a difference). she also wore a dentata to avoid rape & non-consentual sex. smart girl. as for hip 50s sex, & leverage, are you arguing books should be more realistic or less?

    whether her maturity is realistic, i don’t think the 15-yr olds in our easy/silly world are much of a model for a YT. that is, I bet there are plenty of 15-yr-olds who, because of circumstances, are as mature as you’d want.

  10. Hugh Hugh 2007-05-14

    and don’t you think it’s ageist to assume that a 15-year-old can’t be mature etc, while a 18-year old could?

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