This nOde last updated November 14th, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
(5 Chicchan (Snake) - 3 Ceh (Red) - 220.127.116.11.5)
Paperback - 470 pages Reissue edition (May 1993)
Bantam Spectra; ISBN: 0553562614
From the opening line of
his breakthrough cyberpunk
_Snow Crash_, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant
future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United
States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and the Internet--incarnate
as the Metaverse--looks something like last year's hype would lead you
to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist--hacker,
samurai swordsman, and pizza- delivery driver. When his best friend fries
his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy
ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what's a guy with a name like that to
do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow
Crash interweaves everything fromSumerian
myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse.
Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor's Recommended Book
This is the high-octane cyberpunk adventure that put Neal Stephenson on the science fiction map, and the first 30 pages alone are worth the purchase price.It conjures a future world where the Net is virtual and avatars are the Entrée into the "metaverse." But something called "snow crash" is rezzing out many of the metaverse's top personalities and threatening an infocalypse. Enter Hiro Protagonist, pizza delivery man, sword fighter extraordinaire, and supreme hacker. Hiro and teenage girl/super skate-punk Y.T. are probably the only ones who can save the day, but only if they can keep from getting killed by both the Mafia and a psychopath armed with his own atomic bomb.
From Kirkus Reviews , March
After terminally cute campus high-jinks (_The Big U_) and a smug but attention-grabbing
eco-thriller (_Zodiac_), Stephenson leaps into near-future Gibsonian cyberpunk--with predictably mixed results. The familiar-sounding backdrop: The US government has been sold off; businesses are divided up into autonomous franchises (''franchulates'') visited by kids from the heavily protected independent ``Burbclaves''; a computer-generated ``metaverse'' is populated by hackers and roving commercials. Hiro Protagonist, freelance computer hacker, world's greatest swordsman, and stringer for the privatized CIA, delivers pizzas for the Mafia--until his mentor Da5id is blasted by Snow Crash, a curious new drug capable of crashing both computers and hackers. Hiro joins forces with freelance skateboard courier Y.T. to investigate. It emerges that Snow Crash is both a drug and a virus: it destroyed ancient Sumeria by randomizing their language to create Babel; its modern victims speak in tongues, lose their critical faculties, and are easily brainwashed. Eventually the usual conspiracy to take over the world emerges; it's led by media mogul L. Bob Rife, the Rev. Wayne's Pearly Gates religious franchulate, and vengeful nuclear terrorist Raven.
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 cyber-sensibility to bring us the gigantic thriller of the information age. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's Cosa Nostra Inc., but it 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.
Glossolalia - Speaking in tongues. The transmission of the metavirus through either bitmaps or drugs causes this phenomenon.
Snow Crash - A term for a virus transmitted either through bitmap encoded computer programs or through drugs or virally infected blood injected into the bloodstream.
Enki - A Sumerian demi-god, supposedly responsible for the divergence of known languages from Sumerian to destagnate the human species. Sumerian god of wisdom, or how to do things.
Asherah - A Sumerian demi-god, seen as the pre-biblical Eve. Known for spreading the metavirus. Evil of the story. Also does crosstitching in her spare time.
Nam-shub - A speech with magical force. The most notable example is the nam-shub of Enki, which diverged the Sumerian language along several paths.
Hiro Protagonist - The "Hero" of the story (bad pun), Hiro is the greatest swordsman alive and a computer hacker to boot.
YT - Short for "Yours Truly", YT is a Kourier who feeds information to Hiro during the story. She rides a skateboard for a living and, like all teenagers, ignores her mother during bitch-out sessions.
L. Bob Rife - Creator of "The Raft" and anthropologist, Rife is the bad guy of the story who spreads the Asherah virus to control the world. And of course he's from Texas.
Raven - An Aleut harpooneer who is considered by many to be a sovereign nation. This is probably because he carries around a 10MT bomb which would detonate upon his death, but that's just speculation. Glass spears are his weapon of choice, and he's got the hots for Y.T.
Uncle Enzo - Don of the Mafia, ol' Uncle Enzo is the proprietor of Cosa Nostra pizza delivery. He adores Y.T. and has a real aversion to L. Bob Rife.
Binary - Having a nature of duality. Refers to
computer machine language and other dualist principles in the universe.
"The Language of Nature."
"Yes, sir. The Sukuma people of Africa say that the language is kinaturu, the tongue of the ancestors of all magicians, who are thought to have descended from one particular tribe."
"What causes it?"
"If mystical explanations are ruled out, then it seems that glossolalia comes from structures buried deep within the brain, common to all people."
- excerpt from _Snow Crash_