Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Publication in June 1992, 480 Pages
Had a resolution to read more and after a few false starts I got one done. Snow Crash, took me several weeks…
Snow Crash is a cyberpunk (words never used) story set in a dystopian landscape. Based around anarcho-capitalism (I guess) so you have the federal government ceding lands to franchises run by the mafia or others. The lead is a sword wielding, pizza delivery driver, and hacker named Hiro Protagonist. On a failed delivery he meets kourier (thats how its spelled) and extreme skater Y.T. They become associates gathering and selling intel for the CIC. They find themselves dealing with a new drug called Snow Crash and an Aleut badass killer named Raven. All this ties to a corporate executive name L. Bob Rife.
Okay… apparently this book is on TIME’S 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. I don’t know. I don’t read enough so-called classics to really have an opinion on if I think it is one of the top 100 novels. I finished it, and since I have a habit of getting bored quickly or easily distracted that’s good. But I don’t really even know how I feel. Writing this review is making me scratch me my head. I like that the lead is a mixed race man, and Hiro is a pretty cool guy. Even if I don’t understand why such a clearly intelligent and talented hacker isn’t making good money. Y.T. is amusing. The teenage kourier is a lot of fun and I dig her attitude. Though there is a scene that made me roll my eyes and skip a paragraph or two. But then again I’m a bad reader and have habit of missing (or not absorbing) lines. The actual drug Snow Crash is a virus that attacks hackers. So there is a lot about linguistics, religion, archeology and more. There’s some incredibly fascinating stuff in there and sometimes it bored me. The metaverse (you know, 3D cyberspace fun) has some interesting stuff going. I like the scenes in the Black Sun.
What I don’t care for is the setting. Is this the future libertarians want? Doesn’t sound good to me. Most people are either poor or middle class people who are over worked tools. Then there is the rich who may or may not be corrupt assholes. Depends on who and really, its all about protecting their franchises/businesses. But hey! You don’t pay income tax and the federal government is letting you deal with protecting yourself. Of course that just means more assholes in the world, including security forces hired by whatever franchise is control of whatever piece of land. Hope you got money for a good bribe. Its all trading problems for problems. I actually did look into libertarian scifi and what I learned is any story that shows a hint of those values is loved and rewarded. Even if that was not the point and/or written by people who clearly do not identify as libertarian. Really fascinating stuff. Made me rethink Robert Heinlein’s Moon is a Harsh Mistress for a minute which is apparently one of the most beloved libertarian science fiction stories. Though that book was written in the 60s so before contemporary libertarianism and Heinlein himself probably leaned more libertarian-socialism (due to his work for the campaign of socialist writer Upton Sinclair). Heinlein is a good writer and Red Planet is a great YA read.
Also, a lot of these hard science fiction stories present free market and more personal freedoms in a dire future where the people (most of which poor, poor working class) rely on big corporations for survival even though many are violent and corrupt entities. Where as a lot of Utopian based science fiction presents some idealistic place where people are happy but there is secretly an evil Authoritarian entity lying underneath ready to destroy. Geez…
So what about the story itself? It moves. Things happen. Most of it I like, some of it I shrugged. Never actually boring. Though I am a terrible reader so it took longer than it should, which means I did not have the urge to ‘plow through it.’ It was good. I kind of liked it. Might watch the Amazon adaptation if it gets made (Ha! Adaptations of this die in development). Glad I am done and will be taking a manga break.
Might actually do an update on that.