Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I decided to read Snow Crash, it had been in my “to read” list for probably a couple of years. I had been meaning to read something by Stephenson for awhile, but none of his novels ever made their way to the front of my list. I think Neal Stephenson is just one of those authors that, as a science fiction reader, you have to try out at some point and I’m glad that I finally did. Snow Crash was awesome.
Stephenson never gives a concrete date for when it’s set, but hints at the early 21st Century. Despite the fact that it’s set only 10 or 20 years after the 1992 publish date, Stephenson has created a world that has changed dramatically, seeing a huge push towards capitalism to the point where even the United States has largely been replaced by independently owned countries. Even though it’s nothing like what the world is really like today, I found this to be a very interesting, if not realistic, vision of the future. If nothing else, it provided an appropriate setting for the story.
The story follows two great characters, Hero Protagonist, hacker, pizza delivery guy, and the greatest swordsman in the world, and YT, 15 year old skater and messenger. Both characters were independent and unique. Hero was intelligent, quiet, and methodical, whereas YT was also intelligent, but sharp tongued and ironic. I also thought Uncle Enzo was a pretty interesting secondary character.
The plot was also very interesting, mixing politics, history, mythology, and religion. Interestingly enough, I actually felt like I learned a few things reading this novel and it definitely gave me a few things to think about as well. I won’t go into further detail, because I don’t want to spoil anything.
The last thing that I wanted to mention was the technology. I was really surprised at how accurate some of Stephenson’s tech was. Yeah, some of it was pretty far flung, but other things like the metaverse are pretty much in place today.
I’ve heard some people say that you either love Stephenson or you hate him. I gave this novel 5 stars, but I’m not ready to jump into the “love” category yet. It was really good and I enjoyed it, but there are still other authors that I like better. That said, Snow Crash is a fairly recent cyberpunk classic and a must-read for any science fiction reader so get out there and pick it up if you haven’t read it yet.