Snow Crash or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Satire

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    Snow Crash or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Satire

    Cyberpunk is a genre well known for its darkness. How couldn't it be, after Neuromancer crept onto the scene with its moody, psychedelic nightmarescape, or Blade Runner enraptured audiences with its weighty existential questions?

    By having Mafia-run pizza boys armed with machine guns, that's how.

    Neal Stephenson wrote Snow Crash in the early 90s, when a great malaise had come down harder on the West than the Berlin Wall. Teens wore acid-washed jeans and listened to that edgy album with the baby penis on it because mom just didn't understand how hard it was to live at the End of History™. The remaining optimists placed their faith in the burgeoning World Wide Wide that ran on a lot more than three megabytes of hot RAM. Mr. Stephenson extrapolated these trends out into the future, so it's no wonder that now in 2020 they've chosen to turn this masterpiece into a tv show.

    The book follows two protagonists in third person omniscient. Hiro Protagonist (yes, really) is the sword-wielding "last of the freelance hackers" and the co-creator of the Metaverse, a virtual reality program (that ended up inspiring Second Life). He receives a scroll from a scary-looking fellow named Raven, and when his friend opens it, he suffers brain damage in the real world. To solve the mystery of who is behind it and why, he enlists the aid of YT (not Whitey - Yours Truly, ya knob!), a "Kourier" who delivers packages protected by all sorts of cool gadgets.

    Like Neuromancer, Snow Crash is only ostensibly about technology. It's really a thinly-veiled satire, perfectly blending absurdity with the most important matters of the 90s (and now). The cheeky narrator tears all of American society to shreds along the way, including but not limited to criminals, mass surveillance, outsourcing, race, consumerism, religion, immigration, internet addicts and shitty punk bands. There's also a long, sometimes overwrought examination of the intersection of language and faith that's far too much to explain here, but I found enlightening. Mileage may vary for non-history buffs.

    A few negatives, including the lack of real character arcs for our heroes. If you're a fan of the classic hero's journey, you might want to pass. Sometimes they feel a little too emotionally detached from the scenes when things do get serious, but perhaps that's just a byproduct of the crazy world they live in. The ending is also rather abrupt, some might say anti-climatic, but it didn't bother me much. There's also a spoiler-y connection between two characters that Stephenson totally pulled out of his ass.

    8.5/10. Hope my first book review makes some sense!
    Last edited by Joker; July 27th, 2020 at 10:06 AM. Reason: Additional thoughts
    Currently writing: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


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