Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson, 1992)

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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992).

Score: An absolute classic of its genre.

Snow crash follows Hiro Protagonist, a half-African American, half-Japanese hacker and urban samurai, and Y.T., a teenager skater and Kourier in their pursue to find out what the new and mysterious drug in town, Snow Crash, does.

Also, in this cyberpunk adventure, the USA has been fragmented into corporative micro-states called franchulates and the general decadence of the western lifestyle has led to pizza boxes having a timer to prove they weren’t delivered late, whole sites closed to the public for being too polluted and everyday life needing advanced self-defense techniques due to the rampant social darwinism. The less you know about the specifics, the better, so I don’t wanna ruin the surprises for you.

It’s a cyberpunk novel through and through. Some people call it a parody of cyberpunk, I say if you wanna do cyberpunk, you better overdo it, it’s a silly genre anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love cyberpunk, it’s only a genre that’s not particularly known for its moderation or sensible plots, and that’s fine. So Stephenson goes and overdoes it in a glorious way. It would make a great campy movie, with its explosions, dark humour, punchlines and overflowing badassery. Everything about it is so badass, and when it’s not, it’s hilariously hyperbolic. It connects especially well with The diamond age, which was written later but I happened to read before Snow Crash, in the sense that they are set in the same universe and for the first few chapters have the same tone, then The diamond age does a one-eighty, like Stephenson likes to say, and transforms into post-cyberpunk.

It does take its time to develop, though. Snow Crash is not mentioned until a tenth into the book, and to even have an explanation of what it does you have to read half of it, but I was having fun with every episode.

Also the speculative part was interesting as an alternative interpretation of history and reality, things that I love but wouldn’t take seriously at all. It’s obviously unrelated to reality and actual history work, but if you take it as a work of fiction, an exercise on alternate interpretations, it’s quite fun to read. I wouldn’t advise to take any of the book seriously if you want to enjoy it at all, so this aspect of it is no exception. It’s just a book, it doesn’t have to be true or even plausible, get over it.

To sum it up, it’s a must read for anyone who says they like cyberpunk.Neuromancer will look restrained next to this.

Some side-splitting stuff I don’t want to spoil for you: ***SPOILERS***

-The first chapter, especially the few pages at the beginning. He was delivering a fucking pizza.

-The chapter where Y.T.’s mom’s job is described, down to where the report about the toilet paper is transcribed. Someone’s sore with the administration, eh?

-“after that it’s just a chase scene”. And he leaves it at that.

-“The kid’s name is Transubstanciación. Tranny for short”. It’s a really stupid pun but having grown up in a catholic country it cracked me up.

-Raven’s and Y.T.’s romance scenes, ending with Raven K.O.’d by dentata, comedy gold.

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