How to Kill a Nuclear Aleut Hacker Warrior?

Posted on November 28, 2011

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Not Entirely Sure What I Just Read

In the early days of the Internet, there was a corner of the alternative science directory on Yahoo called ‘Neurolinguistic Programming.’ It was fascinating for this young writer, who had yet to discover his formal linguistic leanings, because it meant that you could control people by saying things. Without going too deep into it, the theory was that there were certain sounds that could affect certain feelings and leanings in our primal brain. And, if you exploited these, you could totally control someone.

It has since been proven as hogwash (the first book to mention it was called “The Structure of Magic”). But, this idea does form the underlying premise for ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stepheson, a novel that is, for lack of a better word, awesome.

I’ll warn you that this is a cyberpunk novel. That having been said, we’ve all watched “The Matrix”, so get off your high horse. It takes place on the landmass of America but, of course, things are way different.

In this world, pizza delivery is the highest art. And that’s where we meet the main character, Hiro Protagonist (ugh, I know, don’t worry). He is basically a geek’s wet dream. During the day he is a mild mannered pizza delivery boy (working for the Mafia) but secretly he is the world’s best sword fighter. He runs around with a katana and wakizashi, which is fine in his universe.

On top of that, he is kind of a big deal in a 3D virtual world called the Metaverse (think Second Life that has more motorcycles  and swordfights and is, generally, Matrixy-er). He is a hacker and moonlights by finding information in the Library of Congress and selling it.

One night in the club that he programmed on the Metaverse (where he has won every sword fight), he is offered a drug, called snow crash. But this drug is specifically designed to render hackers useless, as it uses some form of neurolinguistic programming to turn Metaverse users into drooling piles.

It turns out that the whole thing it a giant conspiracy. That’s all I’m going to say.

This is some of the best prose I have ever read. His metaphors are sublime and imaginative. On top of that the plot is fast paced and, honestly, never lets up.

Yes, this book is really really nerdy. And although that’s usually a positive thing, I’m not really sure what to think of it here.

Reading this is like looking at articles written in the ’80′s about the possibilities of the Internet.

But let’s not sell this short. What we have here is an extraordinary book. Don’t be put off by it’s science-fictionyness, it’s a solid read and you’ll be surprised at how much it sucks you in. “Snow Crash” is not like any book ever written.

Like this book review? I’ve got a whole lot more. Here you go!


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