Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Snow Crash

Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My friend Justin recommended Snow Crash to me after a conversation about Infinite Jest. There are similarities, most notably the idea of an informational stimulant, delivered by a woman, that resets your brain. I was very excited about Snow Crash when I started reading it–there was a bit of Saunders-like corporate grotesque, the Metaverse was a cousin to Tad Williams’ Otherland series, and the idea of intel-as-commodity promised to go interesting places. The fact that the book was written in 1992 can be overlooked with the introduction of an alternate history. But as the book got further on, the plot turned into a straight-up adventure tale and Stephenson’s style of expositional word dump became more dense & tiring.

There’s a lot of ideas from the novel like “informational hygiene,” “rational religion” and “language as a virus” that I want to think on more, for sure. But I flat-out didn’t like how concepts of rationality & irrationality broke down (stereotypically) along gender lines (irrational = female, rational = male) or cultural ones (rationality = Abrahamic religions, irrationality = pagan religions). With that said, though, Stephenson keeps his characters from falling along those same cliché lines. Hiro Protagonist is biracial & while he is the main protagonist of the story, the novel ends on his equally interesting partner Y.T. There are a lot more interesting stories contained in Snow Crash that didn’t get told & it would have been interesting to see what would have happened over the course of a multi-book series. But, Snow Crash is what we have & is well worth checking out despite its flaws.

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