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Snow Crash | [Neal Stephenson]

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson is a blazing new force on the sci-fi scene. With the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, he has "vaulted onto the literary stage." It weaves virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility - in short, it is the gigathriller of the information age.
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Publisher's Summary

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison - a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.


In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately.

©1992 Neal Stephenson; (P)2001 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Brilliantly realized...Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the 21st century." (William Gibson)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (6899 )
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4.2 (4062 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Spencer 12-21-12
    Spencer 12-21-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't Finish 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."

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Kellett Seattle, WA United States 09-01-10
    Michele Kellett Seattle, WA United States 09-01-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Graphic Novel for the Sightless"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danny Edmonton, AB, Canada 12-24-02
    Danny Edmonton, AB, Canada 12-24-02
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cyberpunk"

    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.

    48 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noel 02-09-11
    Noel 02-09-11 Member Since 2009

    Compulsive reader, compulsive listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Classic Book/Excellent Performance"

    Snow Crash is probably one of the best all-time science fiction books ever written. Genre-savvy enough to poke fun at itself, but packed with erudition as well. (Well, what do you expect from Neal Stephenson). The characters are interesting and engaging, and the plot appropriately-paced. As a computer professional and a language wonk, myself, it's one I always come back to.

    Johnathan Davis' performance is surprisingly good. He manages to make each character's voice memorable, and has a decent facility with a range of accents.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brooke P. Anderson USA 07-17-03 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    This is great SF -- intelligent, interesting, well told, very well written, involving, and in this case hillarious. The audio book also has excellent narration. Of all books I've listened to from Audible, this is my top pick.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Antioch, TN, United States 10-25-12
    Scott Antioch, TN, United States 10-25-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Liked the narrator, but the story needs polish."
    What would have made Snow Crash better?

    It seems that a lot of the characters interaction seemed forced and/or unrealistic. Items and ideas just seemed to be inserted and accepted without a lot of thought, which seemed out of place. Plot devices like the conspiracy, the big virus, the librarian and other things that just appear in the story seemed more like deus-ex-machina than anything else. I thought it was pretty clumsy attempts to move the story forward for the most part. What made this worse is that it was inconsistently bad. There were liberal sprinkles of interesting dialog, action, and plot. But truth be told it just made the bad parts stick out more. In all I got the impression that this book needed a good editor to make it shine. It has all of the elements, it just seemed rough around the edges, often, and that kept throwing me out of the story.


    Has Snow Crash turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, and I might try reading the author's books again too. Just going to be a bit more cautious about it.


    What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    he made the characters and the worldview concepts interesting and the dialog smooth. If it were anyone else I would not have finished the book at all.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I really liked the concept of the world and the way the different characters existed in it. The virtual world and how people worked with it was fascinating as The descriptions of the corporations and syndicates and how they existed in the world was also very neat to hear.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-18-12 Member Since 2015

    I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overrated"

    This book is full of some extremely clever ideas, and I really want to like it more than I do.

    It seemed to me like the story never settled on a tone. It was never funny enough to be a comedy, and never serious enough to be straight sci-fi. You're left with something that is stuck halfway in between, in world you don't care about with characters that you don't feel anything for, because they aren't charming enough to be likable, and their peril never feels real enough that you can sympathize with them.

    The book leaves you with a number of interesting ideas to chew on, all of which probably could have been used to greater effect in a better story.

    My biggest complaint about the book is that it ended before the story did.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake 02-12-10
    Jake 02-12-10 Member Since 2011

    I average three books a week, but as I cannot afford to purchase that many books I frequently re-read those I already have. If you are here looking for reviews, I typically only review those books I feel particularly strongly about or have some insight that hasn't yet been posted in a review.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An entertaining read, but not for everyone."

    I'd give this one a 5 except for two things: 1) The babel-chant that is used to bridge each transition and chapter (gets EXTREMELY annoying by the end of the book). 2) The story isn't quite up to the standards of Sci-Fi I'm used to, though I think my familiarity with virtually every topic covered in the plot exacerbates this somewhat (hard to suspend disbelief when you know too much to the contrary) - "Speculative Fiction" really is a better classification for this story, or even "Science Fantasy" (as in, it would be cool if things worked that way).

    Some other things that might detract from your enjoyment of this book include: Long monologues/dialogs in which vast amounts of plot-info is simply presented to you (this may comprise as much as 25% of the novel, but any other delivery method would have resulted in the book being twice as long). There is also cursing, sexual references, theological references (just about every major religion), drug use, etc.

    On the positive side, this book can be extremely funny (listen to the free preview - best pizza delivery ever, though not terribly relevant to the plot). The characters are great and the narrator does an excellent job. The story itself is entertaining and the world is fairly original. You'll get a decent intro into ancient history and mythology that I guarantee will be more interesting than any class on the subject (though obviously fictionalized to advance the plot). I think this book is unique in that I've never read a book set in the future that's plot was so dependent on the distant past (that didn't involve time-travel to said past).

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Orlando, FL, USA 05-27-04
    Stephanie Orlando, FL, USA 05-27-04
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    "Excellent reading of vastly entertaining story"

    i've been avoiding Snow Crash for ages, despite the high recommendations of my friends. in this case, i'm glad i went for the audiobook, because the reader they chose really made the listening a huge pleasure. the story is fast-paced, very entertaining, and rather amazing for how closely it parallels some of what is happening today. highly recommended.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Kienholz Wisconsin, USA 05-29-03
    Kathryn Kienholz Wisconsin, USA 05-29-03 Member Since 2013

    kmkat

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good reader, imaginative plot."

    I haven't been a reader (or listener) of science fiction for years -- since I was a teenager -- but I bought "Snow Crash" because I recognized the author's name as a major s.f. writer who had won awards (and I was attempting to understand why my teenage son was so enthralled with s.f.). I'm glad I did -- this book was great fun to listen to. The reader was good, the plot imaginative. Maybe not Great Literature, but definitely great escapism.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • John
    Liverpool, United Kingdom
    1/19/10
    Overall
    "A Manga mini-whirlwind"

    No plot spoilers here. My book club recently agreed this as a 7.5/10. As an audiobook it's well read, and, when I bought it, extremely good value. The storyline has minor flaws and the characterisation is argueably two-dimensional..but the author does an excellent job of telling an entertaining yarn with thoughtful and witty situations and asides in an overall entertaining package. This would obviously make a great Manga comic, and that is, I'm told, exactly what the author intended. In that sense the lack of depth of characterisation is understandable....in cartoon form this would be easier to allow the reader to infer. You get a lot for your money here...with some of the details and asides that flesh out this concievable (slightly sardonic) dystopia being enough to constitute a novella on their own. In the end, it doesn't necessarily deliver more than it promises, but it certainly doesn't deliver less.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • R
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    9/23/10
    Overall
    "A Perfect Blend"

    One of the difficulties with audiobooks, in particular with books that you've previously read, is finding a narrator who sounds right.

    Snowcrash has been one of my favourite books for years and I was delighted to find that Jonathon Davis 'gets it'. The pacing of the story, the emphasis of the words and the voicing of the characters is pretty much spot on for me, so this audiobook gets five stars with no quibbles!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    12/28/10
    Overall
    "Great book but not ideal audio material"

    Neal Stephenson is a superbly imaginative writer, he shows this to great effect in 'Snow Crash'. The detail and invention of his 'Snow Crash' world is truly mind boggling.

    Although I enjoyed the book, and the narration is superb, I think I would have preferred to read this on the page, as it were; although the narrative and plot hurtle along in good style, the characters are somewhat cartoon-like and two dimensional, serving largely as vehicles to carry the story, and this means that the fantasy backdrop has to carry the listener's interest for much of the 17 hours of the book - that's a long time.

    One other point to note: you really need to have some knowledge and/or interest in computers and virtual reality to follow the plot.

    Overall four stars, but my recommendation would be to read the book rather than listen to it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Jim
    London
    8/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Early Stephenson"

    A tightly constructed thriller set in the near future when nations as we now know them have be replaced by corporate franchises and life is lived between a dystopian reality and a fast developing visrtual reality. Some sort of virus seems to be able to infect users on he net and also to continue its work on them in real life. Our hero "Hero Protagonist" has to find out what's going on and put a stop to it. This is early Stephenson but it's already marked by the incredible breadth of sources he can pull into his story (ancient Sumerian history, coding, world war 2, Japanese culture), the way he plays with ideas like what would happen if nationhood were privatrized, his humour and his gift for dialogue. The dialogue is particularly good and offers a reminder of how challenging other genre fiction authors find to bring characters to life through what they say and how they say it. This only gets three stars for the story because at times he sort of gives up and let's the main character lapse into pages of exposition in order to shift the plot along but overall it's still a very enjoyable and immersive listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    London, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "Great book and great narrator"

    This is one of my all time favourite books and listening to it read out loud was no disappointment.



    The depth and tone of Jonothan Davis' voice perfectly matches the tone of the book. It is now imprinted in my memory with his voice. Excellent!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Robbie
    southamptonUnited Kingdom
    10/26/08
    Overall
    "Vivid pictures"

    I enjoyed listening to snowcrash its` pace variation fitted in well with my other activities. The two 'universes' worked well although I became confused with the different city-states in the real one (but my american geography never was that good!) As usual with this narrator the pictures are so vivid it beats HD TV.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Simon
    Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom
    8/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "?"

    I like Neal Stephenson's books but this I could not come to grips with, it just didn't hang together for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sydney
    London, United Kingdom
    12/3/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rollicking cyberadventure"

    I go hot and cold on Stephenson- loved Diamond Age; petered out on the Baroque Cycle. Glad I tried this one out, it's zippy and fun, if oddly retro 20 years on (Second Life not being exactly the It place to be for example). I had only a vague idea what was going on half the time but the lively writing and excellent reading kept me enjoying it. Davis does a great job with all the characters, I especially enjoyed his rendition of the eye-rolling teenage skater-girl.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jyrki
    Helsinki, Finland
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Good stuff"

    As an esotericist and cyberpunk fan I really loved this.

    There is lots of info dumb about misty old religions and new technology which some times interrupted the flow of the story, but it was very interesting stuff, so I didn't mind.

    There is also kind of slight grin at the writers face all the time so the book was fun and very entertaining.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • DMAPP
    Epworth, UK
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Not dissapointed"

    Got into Neal Stephenson via a Stephen King book (The Cell) and have been hooked ever since. Just the right level of detail to plot ratio to keep things moving. This book was fab and well narrated too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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