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