Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - Book Review

Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hey Mr. Stephenson, Metaphors be with you! Sorry, couldn't help using the cliche!

OK, let me start by listing some of my favourite things from the book:
- Raven
- Technology and it's maniacal usage in the book
- Humour that would go well while drinking with buddies
- Uncle Enzo's Mafia philosophy
and last but not the least
- Technology and it's maniacal usage in the book

My favourite characters in a descending order:
Raven > Uncle Enzo > Ng > Librarian > Hiro > Y.T.

So here is a summary of the book as cited from the book itself:
"Wait a minute, Juanita. Make up your mind. This Snow Crash thing—is it a virus, a drug, or a religion?"
Juanita shrugs. "What's the difference?"
Wow, Mr. Stephenson!

Summary babble:

Snow Crash has one of the best opening chapter that I have read in recent times. An ultimate, adrenalin-filled, psycho-geeky narrative of a Pizza Deliverator. This Deliverator is the same chap 'Hiro Protagonist'. (A name that will stay with you for a long, long time.) Yes, it does look like Stephenson is being ever-so-sarcastic by coming up with names like Hiro and Y.T.

I have heard a lot that Stephenson bombards you with info, facts, and factually-fabricated fiction in a manner that appears like an iceberg. The tip is just 1/8th of the actual monster. And yes, it is true. (All those have read his other books, specially Anathem, can snigger now and call me naive!) But, steer your ships safely.
Here are a few buoys and lighthouses that might (or might not) guide you if you feel like picking up Snow Crash:

- Do you love (I repeat, LOVE) science and technology. Not just brief allusions that appear once in a while; not just computer science, but chemistry, biology, geology, and linguistics too; but almost every paragraph brimming with highly obvious or slightly obfuscated allusions.

- Do you dig reading about things like Metaverse (even though this is not so difficult to fathom since we have seen it materialise already, but written in '92 Stephenson has described a lot of facets of virtual reality, avatars (first usage of this term to define entities in VR) and more, in a splendid detail) or his brimming love for factually presenting information like:

"Even the word 'science' comes from an Indo-European root meaning 'to cut' or 'to separate.' The same root led to the word 'shit,' which of course means to separate living flesh from nonliving waste. The same root gave us 'scythe' and 'scissors' and 'schism,' which have obvious connections to the concept of separation."?

- Can you identify when MSG when "Chinese food without MSG" is mentioned?
No, that was not for you Heisenberg!

- Do you think of petting a radio-isotopic dog, ever?

- Do you love (or don't mind) the bustling overflow of technologically-whacky metaphors:
"logos with a lot of bright, hideous yellow in them, and so Alameda Street is clearly marked out before him, a gout of radioactive urine ejected south from the dead center of L.A."
"track him down through the moiling chaos of the microwaved franchise and confront him in a climactic thick-crust apocalypse."
"when the temperature has greenhoused up to a hundred and ten degrees".

(I would like to cite some more of them whacky ones, but why don't you check them out yourself?)

- Do you like reading about awesomely described (Oh and one of my most favourite) bad-ass bad guys? A world-class-bad-guy nominee! The sure shot winner of the Nobel (I will shred you in) Pieces (before you blink your eyes) prize. Sir-Kicks-Ass-Aleut. The ultimate-weapon wielder and kick-ass fighter chap: Raven. Raven, the last of the true Gentleman.

- Do you want to keep wondering about Hiro's objective purpose apart from being cool, sword fighting, making a fool of himself in front of Juanita (or stopping her from outwitting him), writing microcode and so many other things? Do you, eventually, want to conclude that when your name is Hiro, heroism is a given?

- Do you like mythology imbibed in technology and would like to read the long ramblings of Hiro with the Librarian about the same? How does weaving facts around fiction or the other way round sound like?
To cite an example, here is something about the Sumerian stuff:
Thi siswhe re nea lstep he nson pla ysw ith yo urb eli efs an dtr ies tos scr ew yo urb rai nso mem ore.

- Do you not mind reading about an annoying side-kick? Yeah, Y.T.

- Do you not mind a conclusion of a book that feels like you are dreaming about swimming in the vast Amazon and then you suddenly wake up to the splashing you are making in your half-filled bath tub?

If the answer to most of these questions is 'Yes', or you want to go ahead, read the book and nuke my review, I will offer you a nuclear submarine.

The rest is up to you.

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