It's been several years since I read this book, so thought it'd be fun to give the audiobook a listen. I do have to say that I think it's one of those books that is better read than listened to via audio. That said, I think the narrator did a good job capturing the book and it is a fun story. First released in 1992, the same year "www" was coined, it's interesting to see how many of his "predictions" have come true and how much sounds dated. Stephenson is someone who explains tech in detail - all of his books are that way - which I find fascinating. But, if in-depth explanations bore you, he's not the author for you.
This book has a lot going for it. For starters the plot is great. A lot of twists and turns and you're never quite sure what's going to happen (or even what's going on). The characters are wonderfully crafted and the dialog is well written and entertaining. A wonderfully dry humor is mixed in well with the action. Also, major kudos to the narrator. He does such a great job that the audio book may very well be better then paper edition.
Part of the plot revolves around the study of biblical era documents, including the bible itself. I did sometimes find this part of the plot somewhat frustrating. But that's probably due to the fact that I know something about biblical exegesis, and the conclusions drawn by the characters in the book are wildly inaccurate. I suppose this frustration would be similar to the frustration felt by a physicist as he watched Star Trek. Or by a military tactician as he watched a Rambo film. It can just be frustrating to have a subject that you know about used as a plot device. Let's just say that you'll learn about as much about biblical study after reading Snow Crash as you'd learn about physics by watching Captain Picard use "and inverted tachyon beam to scan the wormhole."
Don't get this book if you'll be offended by the use of Christian and biblical events as a plot device. Also be aware that there is some profanity. It's not gratuitous, but it is fairly frequent.
But all of that aside, this is a really good book. If you're a sci-fi fan, you'll probably like it. If you're a cyber-punk fan, this is required reading. But even if you're not a sci-fi fan, you could very well enjoy this book. Just keep an open mind and buckle your seat belt. It's quite a ride.
Thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. I listen to audiobooks quite frequently and I can honestly say this is my favorite. A reasonably intelligent use of sound effects and excellent vocalizing make this a joy to listen to. I had originally read this in paperback and was quite suprised to find myself identifying MORE with the characters through the audiobook than I had in my original reading.
While this IS considered sci-fi and/or cyberpunk, don't let those terms scare you off. The envisioned future is pretty realistic and just 'gritty' enough to give you a good feel for it. Most of the technology is pretty conceivable and easy to understand - and very little of it is thrown in just because the author's supposed to be writing 'sci-fi'.
The audio version does bog down a bit in one or two spots. Some of the religious lingo/jargon/names was a bit easier to absorb in hardcopy. It's a lot easier to look back a page or two - or know you read that name just a minute ago and glance back over a paragraph or three - than it is to zap your MP3 player back 6 or 7 minutes. You might want to bookmark the beginning of such sections if you're either a die-hard fan or a theology major... Otherwise, listen through it and absorb what you can. You'll get a good idea where things are heading in short order.
Driving over 100,000 mile a year since 1983, I got hooked on audible books on tape 30 years back. I now listen from my bicycle 2 hours a day
On a long drive from Colorado through Texas to Tennessee alone I was thoroughly entertained and enlightened. A thousand miles passed immersed in a new future imagined and realized. A fascinating future described in intimate detail. Alternate lives as avatars in a strange new land unfold in a captivating story filled with philosophy and technology. There is so much going on here and so many of those who reviewed this book must have missed it.
At 64 I doubt I am part of the target audience but I opened my mind and let this book flow through me like the broken yellow line on the unfolding ribbon of asphalt through the windshield of my Vibe GT. What a thrill ride! Like a skateboard messenger hooked to a speeding pizza delivery guy working for the Mafia I surfed the future and wound up richer for the experience of this long strange trip. dig it
I get that this book was groundbreaking and has been massively influential on our culture, both literary and otherwise. However, I could not make myself finish this thing. I made it almost to the end and just stopped caring. Neither of the two main characters are particularly likable and every idea in this story has since been done better in other books. I couldn't get over how pretentious the whole thing feels--I could hear the smug satisfaction in Neal Stephenson's words. He frequently spends entire chapters explaining details that aren't relevant, or going on about history lessons that the reader's already figured out. The world he's created doesn't always make sense, either. Why would there be a company for the United States Government, if there's no United States? I made it well past the 75% mark and I still didn't understand half the motivations for the growing cast of characters. Doesn't help that the sound quality flickers back and forth--I found numerous examples where entire sentences just got washed out in bizarre distortion effects, and there's a large chunk later in the story where they just forget to mention what chapter they're on. It's not a terrible story, but it's got almost no merit now that all of its ideas have been done better since its release.
The reader was fine, though I found it a little annoying he kept pronouncing "Katana" as "Kuh-TAN-uh" instead of "Kuh-TAHN-uh."
This book was one of the genre defining works along with William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Walter Jon Williams and others of the Cyberpunk movement. Stephenson is an entertainer as well as a visionary and I think a vivid personal imagination is required to truly "get" this as well as his other works. I cannot recommend this book enough and I wish more of his work, as well as the others I mentioned above, was available on audio. Seek out "The Diamond Age" by Stepehnson as well if you like this novel. The narrator is amazing, next to Frank Muller he is the only one I would search out on other books regardless of their subject matter.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
A few years ago when I had become interested in the virtual reality of Second Life, a friend recommended Snow Crash to me. I had not heard of the book but having such a high regard for the friend, I kept it tucked away in my synapses. Boy am I glad that I did. This is a book about virtual reality that is very much like Second Life. But it is so, so much more. In fact I think that there is no end to the more. It includes Sumerian myth, a hero/protagonist named Hiro Protagonist and a landscape so much like modern-day America, you won't miss it. Hopefully you won't miss the book either. It is funny, hip and cool as can be. The book is mind boggling, outrageous and not like anything I have ever read.
I love the fact that the reviews of "Snow Crash" are so mixed -- if someone doesn't give it a 4 or 5, they give it a 1 (and probably only because they can't give it a zero). It's probably very much a function of your personality: if you're the right type, it'll grab you and you'll love it. Otherwise, it'll seem stupid, boring, and pointless. I'm in the former group: I love it!
Either way, you won't have anything to complain about in the narration, in my opinion. Jonathan Davis does an excellent job.
I found that the techno jargon/slang was initially fairly shallow and repetitive. The story could have done with a much shorter setup of the characters and period, with a bit less attempt at a clever approach. This almost felt like word filling to make a minimum.
However, once the story got going, it developed into a very engaging and well through out tale. The characters and interactions kept me listening until the very end, where I found it to be nicely all wrapped up.
Snow Crash is not only very entertaining, it has a series of clever twists and a strong back story that set it aside from many science fiction stories.
Comedy and drama are well entwined throughout, neither detracting from the overall mood and pace of the book and the protagonists are well drawn.
I can highly recommend the excellent audio recording, which is a great format for this novel.