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.
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.
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.
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.
No one writing today has more ideas about the history of technology or more passion for popular culture, or more willingness to spin heady theories about all of the above in densely plotted and populated novels than Neal Stephenson. Sometimes these ideas are exhilarating. Sometimes they're just dumb. But even when Stephenson resembles your crank engineer uncle on meth, he manages to do so with humor and elan. "Snow Crash" is an all-prose comic book, a novel that manages to be simultaneously apocalyptic and slight.
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.
This is one of my first audiobooks selections and I chose it for it's length (value) and my interests in computers, technology, and future predictions. I listened to the sample and it sounded a little too "off the wall" for me, but I decided to give it a go anyway.
At first I was distracted by the verbal landscape but soon I was drawn in and the characters began to become likable and someone that I could relate to.
Concepts that I really liked:
1. A cyber universe where one could almost live, die, and play in... an Internet on steroids?
2. A virus that could gap the digital world to the physical world.
3. An ancient language that was, and is, common to all people
The characters are inventive, interesting, and quite unusual. The plot takes all kinds of twists and kept me anxiously wanting to go back to listening. The reader does a great job and does not detract from the story.
Bottom line, I found this a strange, yet compelling, story that I enjoyed very much.
So far the two Neil Stevenson books I have listened to, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, have proved to be very entertaining and thought provoking. The techknolodgy he creates as part of the setting and times is both imaginative and maybe even wildly plausable. I think for me , what sets him apart is his sense of humour. The combination makes for a very enjoyable read.