Review: Snow Crash

I read an interview with Neal Stephenson where he mentioned that he can make a living as a writer because he writes things people like to read.  That sounds kind of vacuous, but there’s a point in there.  Almost without exception, when I read something by Stephenson, I enjoy the experience cover to cover.

Snow Crash is extremely well regarded among geeks and science fiction folks in general, but I’m always a little leery when approaching a book with so much buzz about it.  I’ve been disappointed by a lot of cyberpunk in the past, and having a protagonist who is a hacker/network guy is always dicey for me.

I shouldn’t have worried.  Even though I came into the book a little standoffish, Stephenson grabbed me pretty quickly and pulled me into his world.  Cryptonomicon is more nearly believable, but the feel of the hackers and others in this world is right.  It reminded me a little of Charles Stross’s Halting State in that the hackerish parts of the world felt right even if the details were unfamiliar.  Stross’s details are unfamiliar because he’s taking the reader to a near future Scotland.  Stephenson is taking us much further into satire and fiction, with the contrast and volume high.

One of the best things about Stephenson is that even when he’s got the throttle all the way open and the speakers blaring, he’s in control of his narrative and his characters.  The trip is a lot of fun, but there are things to contemplate as they go by.  And is you don’t like what just went by, something else will be along in a second.

Snow Crash is a lot of fun, and rewarding as well.

Strongly Recommended.

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