NEAL STEPHENSON is the author of seven previous novels. He lives in Seattle, WA.
"Stephenson has not stepped, he has vaulted onto the literary stage with this novel."—Los Angeles Reader"A cross between Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon's Vineland. This is no mere hyperbole."—San Francisco Bay Guardian"Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the 21st century."—William Gibson"Brilliantly realized...Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow."—New York Times Book ReviewOne of Time magazine's 100 all-time best English-language novels.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 CosoNostra 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.Neal Stephenson issues from a clan of rootless, itinerant hardscience and engineering professors (mostly Pac-10, Big 10, and Big 8 with the occasional wild strain of Ivy). He began his higher education as a physics major, then switched to geography when it appeared that this would enable him to scam more free time on his university’s mainframe computer. When he graduated and discovered, to his perplexity, that there were no jobs for inexperienced physicist-geographers, he began to look into alternative pursuits such as working on cars, unimaginably stupid agricultural labor, and writing novels. His first novel, The Big U, was published in 1984 and vanished without a trace. His second novel, Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller, came out in 1988 and quickly developed a cult following among water-pollution-control engineers. It was also enjoyed, though rarely bought, by many radical environmentalists. Snow Crash was written in the years 1988 through 1991 as the author listened to a great deal of loud, relentless, depressing music.Mr. Stephenson now resides in a comfortable home in the western hemisphere and spends all of his time trying to retrofit an office into its generally dark, unlevel, and asbestos-laden basement so that he can attempt to write more novels. Despite the tremendous amounts of time he devotes to writing, playing with computers, listening to speed metal, Rollerblading, and pounding nails, he is a flawless husband, parent, neighbor, and all-around human being.The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed sub-category. He's got esprit up to here. Right now he is preparing to carry out his third mission of the night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air. A bullet will bounce off its arachno-fiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door, but excess perspiration wafts through it like a breeze through a freshly napalmed forest. Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books.When they gave him the job, they gave him a gun. The Deliverator never deals in cash, but someone might come after him anyway–might want his car, or his cargo. The gun is a tiny, aero-styled, lightweight, the kind of a gun a fashion designer would carry; it fires teensy darts that fly at five times the velocity of an SR-71 spy plane, and when you get done using it, you have to plug it in to the cigarette lighter, because it runs on electricity.The Deliverator never pulled that gun in anger, or in fear. He pulled it once in Gila Highlands. Some punks in Gila Highlands, a fancy Burbclave, wanted themselves a delivery, and they didn't want to pay for it. Thought they would impress the Deliverator with a baseball bat. The Deliverator took out his gun, centered its laser doo-hickey on that poised Louisville Slugger, fired it. The recoil was immense, as though the weapon had blown up in his hand. The middle third of the baseball bat turned into a column of burning sawdust accelerating in all directions like a bursting star. Punk ended up holding this bat handle with milky smoke pouring out the end. Stupid look on his face. Didn't get nothing but trouble from the Deliverator.Since then the Deliverator has kept the gun in the glove compartment and relied, instead, on a matched set of samurai swords, which have alway
Stephenson wrote this book in the late 80's / very early 90's. If you read the book (which is a really great read even if it were written recently) with that in mind, it will give you an extra appreciation for the feats of imagination contained within. The "internets" as our fearless leader would call it was certainly in existence at that time, but people, it was accessed via character based, pre-Windows, menu driven applications!
The story starts with a sci-fi futuristic bang but builds into a really compelling drama/mystery that just gets more and more interesting while introducing one great futuristic notion after another. Eventually he ends up dealing with the origin of human language, the Bible, the Mafia, corporate America, skater culture...but it's not all over the place. It's brilliant.
I've given this book to at least 10 people, and every last one of them loved it. A slam dunk any time but especially for holiday/summer/travel reading.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom did it for projecting worst-case into the future about on-line reputation and competition. Snow Crash does it for privatization of public services and the decline of American life. But somehow this comes off as fun, punk, optimistic about the fate of strong individuals and insightful about the nature of everything from the origins of human languages to the hazards of sword-fighting as an online avatar. It's a rush just commenting on this, even though I'm years behind the curve after the novel's original publish date. Next one for me, despite some ambiguous reviews, should be Neal Stephenson's new one, "Reamde," another one of those books where alternative lifestyles can also refer to our alter egos online. Why is the future of the world and humanity always at stake?
While some of the ideas in this book will seem dated, many have actually been invented! Great action packed novel that feels like a sci-fi movie. I'm keeping my paper back copy for my kids to read one day. This book got me reading again in highschool after a long time. I would recommend this to anyone who hates reading or has a subborn youth who doesn't enjoy reading.
"Stephenson has not stepped, he has vaulted onto the literary stage with this novel."—Los Angeles Reader"A cross between Neuromancer and Thomas Pynchon's Vineland. This is no mere hyperbole."—San Francisco Bay Guardian"Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the 21st century."—William Gibson"Brilliantly realized...Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow."—New York Times Book Review