Snow Crash is a techno-thriller by Neal Stephenson and published in June of 1992. The story takes place in a futuristic world that is no longer controlled by governments, but rather corporations. Individual corporations are now issuing their own currency, security companies are more powerful than most armies, and the Central Intelligence Agency has turned into the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of just looking at the old Internet, you fully immerse yourself into the highly evolved virtual reality Metaverse. Ride along with Hiro Protanganest a former computer programmer who now delivers pizza for the Mafia. His fellow hackers are being wiped out by a new computer virus called Snow Crash that has the ability to not only infect your computer, but your mind as well. It appears to be based on civilization's oldest religions, and a strange cult is growing up around it. Along the way, he encounters Y.T., a fifteen-year-old Kourier who can't help but get into trouble, which is bad because her mother works for the FBI. You'll also meet Raven, a bad-ass biker who not only carries knives that can cut through bulletproof Kevlar, but has his brain hardwired to an atomic bomb.
My friend Dave lent me this book in the early 2000s, and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was the book that introduced me to Neal Stephenson, and I've grown very fond of him since.
I don't own this book, but have read it and listened to an audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- I really like the idea of being a mind-hacker working with the assembly code of the brain.
- Stephenson did a good job at appropriating ancient mythology into modern hacking terms, though some of it seems forced.
- Hiro, even though he's not nearly the most interesting character, is a perfect lead.
- YT is hilarious, and not too ridiculous to be unbelievable.
- Raven is a wonderful villain, a true bad-ass.
- I love how governments have become so unimportant that nobody even knows the President of the United States even when he's right in front of them.
- I would certainly listen to Reason.
- I don't like it when authors jump around in their time line like in this book. I guess they do it to make their writing seem edgy, or keep the right pace, but I find it unnecessary and confusing.
- "Snow crash" is a highly antiquated term, and not something that hackers past the 70s would be familiar with, let alone future hackers.
- The future is way too soon. Most of the technology necessary for the Metaverse is still many years away despite taking place around 2010.
- The book goes into so much detail with ancient mythology that I started to get bored several times, and I found there to be too many analogies for the ancient terms.
- A lot of time is spent talking about the US government, but it never amounts to anything.
- Like many authors who have described an online virtual reality, the rules don't seem like they'd work in practice. The Metaverse seems far too constrictive in some ways (avatars have to be the same height at their owners, they can't teleport, etc.), and too liberal in others (a hacker can adjust their size to zero, a single programmer wrote the code for all the graveyard demons and it hasn't changed in years, etc.)