Snow Crash

I’ve read many Neal Stephenson books, but I think Snow Crash, the last one I read is the best Neal Stephenson book ever. I think it is much better than Cryptonomicon, even though it is not so well known.

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It is a SF book published in 1992, and what it is interesting is that in the novel Neal introduces many new concepts and ideas that became REAL during the last years. For example, the concept and word “avatar” started to be used after Snow Crash used it for the first time. Also the concept of “Metaverse” as a virtual world where avatars can interact is very well detailed in the novel. The word “Metaverse” did not become widely used but many of the characteristics of the Metaverse explained in the novel were implemented later on in video games like Ultima Online, Second Life or WOW. If fact the designers of Second Life recognized having been deeply inspired by Snow Crash.

Another thing I liked about the novel is the protagonist, his name is “Hiro Protagonist”, he is a hacker and he always carries a katana with him (Mmm, this sounds familiar to me). This is Hiro Protagonists’s presentation at the beginning of the book:

“Last of the freelance hackers
Greatest sword fighter in the world
Stringer, Central Intelligence Corporation
Specializing in software-related intel
(music, movies & microcode) ”

Some other paragraphs from the book that I liked:

“No languages whatsoever are descended from Sumerian. It is an agglutinative tongue, meaning that it is a collection of morphemes or syllables that are grouped into words -very unusual”

I didn’t know that Sumerian was an agglutinative tongue like Japanese.

“I thought the Hebrews were monotheists. How could they worship Asherah?”
Monolatrists. They did not deny the existense of other gods. But they were only supposed to worship Yahweh. Asherah was venerated as the consort of Yahweh.

I learned what monolatrism means, before I had no idea.

“Many linguists have tried to understand Babel, the question of why human language tends to fragment, rather than converging on a common tongue.”

You can order Snow Crash from Amazon, if you like SF you will love this book.

5 Comments
  • Miguel Marcos

    April 8, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I had heard Snow Crash was excellent, although I’ve never read it.

    Many thanks for posting the reference to monolatrism. That’s a word and concept I was unaware of.

  • jeff

    April 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Snow Crash was okay, except for being insanely unrealistic as a blockbuster movie.

    The concepts “avatar”, “metaverse”, and “portable computer” were well aware before this book was published, its just that Snow Crash popularized them.

    Although, i’m very biased towards fictional books, as I enjoy non-fiction much more.

    And what is ironic about the book is its title, since it derives “snow” from what happens to an “analog” tv when it has no reception, and yet the book takes place in a “digital” world.

  • kirai

    April 9, 2009 at 1:09 am

    You are right, “Analog snow” does not make sense in a digital world 🙂

    You are also right about the word “avatar”, it was not the first time, but maybe without the book another word would have win. “Metaverse” did not win though.

  • datwo

    April 9, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Actually, Snow Crash is an anology of the visual representation of the Snow Crash Virus to the actual analog snow. As for Metaverse, we still don’t have anything resembling it, since the Metaverse was both local and remote interface, and we either have one or another these days.

    Apart from that, is one of the best SF books out there.

  • Amschel

    April 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Read it long time ago…nice to remember it…I remember the guy who went around, wired up with camera and a direct (sat?) link to CIA and sold real time footage and what ever he saw…and there were many people like him doing this…and who can forget the R.E.A.S.O.N.? Gotta read the book to find out! Also recommend “Diamond Age”…I really enjoyed it but it is a bit further away into future…may be 80 years…I’ve read Cryptonomicon as well…good and looong book, 1000 pages, cool concep and application of van eck phreaking…anyways it was nice to reminess…

    A