Monday, February 18, 2008

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson writes in the natural language of geeks, nerds, and affiliated techies. If Computer People, as my lovely wife umbrellas us, could string sentences together that didn't reference Star Wars in some way, then maybe we'd be Neal Stephenson. Geeks love his books, as do normal people (closet geeks), because he writes about complicated technical matters in an interesting, funny, exciting way. Examples: in Cryptonomicon, he makes cryptography exciting; in the Baroque Cycle (a series of three abso-fucking-lutely massive chunky doorstop novels) he makes the history of modern economics into a swashbuckling pirate yarn. In Snow Crash, there is an entire chapter that's all about ancient Sumerian history and the origins of the Bible. Geeks are normally sensitive to this sort of infodump, but I got to the end of the chapter before I realised. I felt like Syndrome in the Incredibles: "You sly dog! You got me monologuing." Stephenson's skill is to make it not only interesting, but essential to the plot, so that you want to know more.

The main character in Snow Crash is not the most interesting, but that's not a bad thing. His name is Hiro Protagonist, which should give you a clue as to his purpose in the story. He's the one that works out the plot, is in the right place to save the girl at the right time and saves the day by being the badass every geek wants to be. He does this job really well. It's the supporting cast that really lift the book, though: Y.T. the skateboarding courier that hides her job from her mom; Uncle Enzo, the vietnam vet that's head of the mafia (who also deliver pizzas); Raven, the unstoppable baddie.

This is a great book, a classic of S.F. You should read it.

No comments:

Post a Comment