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Snow Crash Paperback – May 2, 2000
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
One of the added pleasures of the success of Stephenson's recent books (Cryptonomicon, etc.) is this better-late-than-never audio version of his third (and arguably best) novel, which continues to be a paperback bestseller. Snow Crash (1992), which helped earn the word "cyberpunk" a place in history, is set in the not-too-distant future where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the U.S. is a vast, mall-like patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and young Hiro Protagonist (yes, that's the hero protagonist's name) uses his computer game wizardry and pizza delivering skills to combat a deadly new designer drug (and computer virus) called Snow Crash. Actor/writer Davis is the ideal choice for bringing Stephenson's crackling, poetic language to life, and the author-approved abridgement sacrifices none of his hilariously skewed, eminently believable vision a stew of concepts from Sumerian myth to Japanese anime of the commercially sponsored fate that sits waiting in a giant shopping mall, coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Based on the Bantam Doubleday Dell paperback.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are many, many OCR errors in the text, particularly misinterpretation of rn as m, which often makes non-words, or, worse, makes actual words which make no sense, or, even worse, makes actual words that change the meaning of a sentence and bring your reading to a grinding halt.
Amazon; if you must OCR books to Kindle, spare a few hours to proof-read them. This is my first bad Kindle experience. Very amateur electronic publishing job.
From the opening description of Hiro Protagonist (the main character--couldn't you tell?), I was caught by the irony, sarcasm, wit, and sheer fun with the English language that Neal Stephenson has in his repertoire. Snow Crash is gutsy, innovative, witty, and fun. It rewards anyone who churn out code for a living. Anyone who wonders what happens to our brains with all the advertising thrown at us. Anyone who is tired of the same old science fiction. Anyone who has wondered if the Tower of Babel story, combined with Sumerian mythos, would make a good computer-age read... the answer is yes.
It's almost impossible to review a cyberpunk book without comparing it to uberauthor William Gibson's works. I find Gibson to be cooly intellectual, reserved, methodical--a great read for a day when I'm ready to think hard. Stephenson is white-hot, down and dirty, in the trenches, while not losing touch with the thoughtfulness and underlying structure that makes Gibson satisfying.
The main characters are a 30 year-old man, who is apparently the best samurai swordsman in the world, one of the best hackers or software programmers (Stephenson uses the words more or less interchangeably; one must keep in mind that this book was written in 1992), and also a Deliverator, which is a fancy name for a pizza delivery man working for the Mafia, and a 15 year-old girl (very full of “attitude”) that works as a “Kourier” (messengers that deliver packages riding some super high-tech skates). The Mafia apparently controls all the Domino-like pizza-to-go business in the country. The whole setup of the novel should make smile even to the most cantankerous readers.
I had liked William Gibson's books, so I gave _Snow Crash_ a try.
_Snow Crash_ is primarily about Hiro, a young man who delivers pizzas and collects information for the Central Intelligence Corporation (freelance), for a living. He lives in a storage unit with a cult-hero rockstar named Vitaly Chernobyl. He owns a futon, two awesome Japanese swords, and a laptop computer, where he stays "jacked in" to the "Metaverse" a lot of the time, where he is the world's greatest swordfighter.
Hiro witnesses a crime while interacting with others in the Metaverse. One of his friends is deliberately exposed to a dangerous block of text, which fries his brain (in the real world), and renders him a vegetable. Hiro and his friend Y.T. (15-year old skateboarding female, and knee-slappingly funny smartaleck) set off to find out why, and save the world in the process.
From the getgo this is a funny book. Sure, the vision of the near-future is dark, a little alarming, and at times depressing (there are NO general laws in _Snow Crash_, for example, and private corporations run everything, even the police, just as an example). That's what cyberpunk is like. But the HUMOR is one thing that sets Neal Stephenson aside. Hiro Protagonist? Come on, that's FUNNY, PEOPLE! One reviewer called it an 'odd' name. Yes, it's odd, and it's absurd, and it's funny! Did this author mean it is an unusual choice for a character name? I don't know. I hope not. It would be an odd choice for a character's name in a Jane Austen novel, sure. But this is cyberpunk, or something like it. Among this genre's leading inspirations are the works of Thomas Pynchon, and "Hiro Protagonist," as a character name, would fit in perfectly among his merry bands of misfits, especially in _V._ or _Gravity's Rainbow_.
Repeatedly reviewers are slamming Stephenson for his use of Sumerian myth, exploration of Sumerian culture, etc. in the book... calling it inaccurate, poorly connected to the rest of the story, and, (my personal least favorite), BORING. I tell you, besides the great sense of humor, the Sumerian-myth link is what sets this novel heads above so much other cyberpunk. I don't care if it's inaccurate (this is FICTION, see?). Stephenson "traces" computer/textual viruses and biological viruses quite nicely back to Sumerian times, and he links them to one another, biological virus to digital/informational virus (a debt to another pre-cyberpunk luminary, William Burroughs, who said "Word is Virus?")-- it's all very well connected to the metaverse/here-and-now portion of _Snow Crash_'s plot.
This is a funny, riproaring tale. I raced through this nearly 500-page paperback in half the time I read most books of this length. I enjoyed it beginning-to-end. My only complaint with the book was that, at times, it too much resembled a Hollywood action movie, what with all sorts of incredible stunts being performed, by boat drivers, skateboarders, swordsmen, etc.
I say, if you like William Gibson or Thomas Pynchon, or if any of this review makes _Snow Crash_ seem a bit appealing to you, give it a chance. I enjoyed it 10 times as much as I thought I would.