Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Snow Crash

Filed under: Art,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:04 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson last night.

Okay, so let me front-load this review with all the bad things up front. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist. I mean, can you get any more gimmicky than that? And, as often seems to happen with Stephenson’s books, things come to an end very quickly. And, by that I mean, they build to a state of extreme tension over more than three-hundred pages and then end in less than twenty, often without much in the way of explanations or tying up of loose ends. Snow Crash is no different.

But, those things aside, it’s a damn fine bit of science-fiction.
The story follows Hiro, who’s a hacker that’s currently working for Uncle Enzo’s Cosa Nostra Pizza as a delivery driver. Hiro, however, runs afoul of Uncle Enzo after crashing his delivery car trying to get a late pizza delivered on time. He’s aided by a skateboard courier by the name of Y.T. She’s a little under-age, but she’s a great courier and, now, a friend of Uncle Enzo. That’s a good thing, considering that the Mafia is a nearly ubiquitous franchise in the world of Snow Crash. In fact, most franchises seem to be nearly ubiquitous and have managed to become their own little countries, as are the California suburbs, or “Burbclaves”, where most of the book’s action takes place.
So, when Hiro gets fired from his job at Uncle Enzo’s, he goes to his part-time job as a stringer for the Central Intelligence Corporation and starts selling them intelligence. While in the on-line world known as the Metaverse, which Hiro helped program, searching for some juicy intel, he watches one of his hacker friends get infected with a new computer virus called “snow crash”. Nothing new there, right? Well, not quite… There’s a new twist to snow crash. It seems that this virus not only infects your computer, but it does something to your mind, too. And, now, someone’s trying to infect Hiro with it.

So, that’s the basic premise. I won’t spoil the book by telling you how it all turns out. But, I will drop a few hints. There’s a bunch of religion involved. And ancient Sumerian artifacts and the Metaverse and one of Hiro’s ex-girlfriends and raft-riding refugees and more. It’s complicated, convoluted and entirely entertaining. In many places it seems so light and comical that it’s almost a farce, but, really, that just off-sets the intensity of the other, more philosophical passages.
If you haven’t read it yet, read Snow Crash.  It’s Neal Stephenson at his best and it’s great.

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