Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

⭑⭑⭑½ (3.5/5 see book reviews)

I could reread the first passage of this book forever and ever and be happy.

The book opens on Hiro Protagonist (yes, it’s an amazing name for a protagonist) making a pizza delivery for the mob in a hyper-capitalist future America.

Pizza drivers for Uncle Enzo’s Cosa Nostra pizza are called “deliverators,” and they are all armed for protection. Hiro, the greatest swordfighter in the world by his own account, is armed with dual thirty-six-inch katanas (which are not a part of Cosa Nostra Pizza’s weapon’s protocol).

Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a role model. This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them.

– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Hiro’s pizza career ends quickly after meeting a ’Pooner (short for “harpooner”—someone who harpoons cars and skateboards behind them on the highway) named Y.T. (short for “Yours Truly”).

Y.T. is a great character. She has one of the most profound quotes of the whole book in her internal monologue:

The world is full of power and energy and a person can go far by just skimming off a tiny bit of it.

– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

The book focuses on a neural virus that is transmitted via the deep structures of our brains. The nam-shub of Enki (the spell/hack of an ancient Sumerian neuro-hacker) inoculated humanity against the spread of the virus—it was also the biblical babel event that prevented humanity from continuing to speak ancient Sumerian. Now a new cult is trying to use this neural and biological virus to, once-again, control humanity.

I started reading this book because the protagonist in “The Kaiju Preservation Society” wrote his dissertation on it and that book was fun.

This book reads, in parts, like a dissertation narrated as a conversation between Hiro and an AI Librarian written in as a plot device.

This book would have been subversive when it was released in the early 90s. It was supposed to be a “computer generated graphic novel” which sounds like it would have been mindblowing in 1992.

Reading it for the first time now in 2022, it started strong, it kept building and building and then just…ended?

If I were to plot my enjoyment of Snow Crash over time, it’d look like this: ███▇▇▇▄▄▄▂▁

Around the time that 15-year-old Y.T. has sex with the book’s main antagonist (a man with a tattoo that reads, “POOR IMPULSE CONTROL” on his forehead whose main ambition is to nuke America): I’m just ready for it to be done.

I stuck it out to the end for a deus ex machina and that was some bullshit.

This book would have been a perfect short story about pizza delivery.

Details

  • Title: Snow Crash
  • Author: Neal Stephenson
  • Pages: 576
  • Format: EBook
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN: 059359973X
  • Genre: Science Fiction