After several weeks of erratic reading schedules, I finally finished Snow Crash. For the uninitiated, Snow Crash is Neal Stephenson's take on cyberpunk, and has been compared both to Thomas Pynchon's Vineland and William Gibson's Neuromancer (which effectively invented cyberpunk as a genre). I've not read Vineland or Neuromancer
(yet), so I can't comment on the accuracy of these comparisons. But the
book—which I enjoyed, if not loved—did remind me of a few other works
of science and fiction, such as:
- Google Earth - There's a
big fat version of Google Earth that's a fairly significant plot device
in the novel, which is interesting since Stephenson wrote the book in1991.
- Threshold - The technique of alien invasion in the new sci-fi TV series (from Star Trek's Brannon Braga) shares some striking similarities to the Sumerian infovirus in Snow Crash.
- Moby Dick
- The confluence of text and meta-text, the multichapter diversions
into laborious and fascinating exposition, and the blatant referencingof whaling, obsessive journeys, and of Melville's novel itself.
- Second Life - Of course
there's a VR world in a cyberpunk book, but the
grassroots-and-open-source feel of Stephenson's world reminds me mostof Second Life, right down to the co-opting of online real estate by agenda-wielding businesses.
- Transmetropolitan - The hyperconsumerist, hyperfactionalized, zealot-infused dystopia of Snow Crash is a slighty more real and sinister version of Warren Ellis' psychotically funny futurescape.
- Inverse and grassroots surveillance as a business model is a huge
part of this novel, and while the story doesn't quite match currentthinking, we could get there pretty quick.
So anyway, go read the book. It's pretty cool. Me, I've got a sudden
craving for a slice of pizza delivered in a pseudo-batmobile by a
cyber-samurai working for the mafia. MMMM....pizza.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.