"Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson

Review by Borodutch

If you were suggested to read this novel because you work in crypto or metaverse, the person offering probably didn't read it themselves. It is a mixture of Ready Player One, Idiocracy, Robocop, and maybe Demolition Man (I haven't watched it yet, only being familiar with some plot points like the three shells meme). Even though it is in there, the book's metaverse is a minor detail. The plot mainly revolves around the adventures of the main heroes in the anarcho-capitalist society where the U.S. government has fallen, and capitalism (with consumerism) is the main force of order.

Here's what happens (sorry for spoilers, but the book is so old it could've gotten a few PhDs):

  • Hiro Protagonist (this is his name), working for the mafia (this is the pizza delivery), fails to deliver a pizza; Y.T. (this is her name) — a 15-year-old girl — helps.
  • The mafia boss (for some reason) gets emotionally attached to Y.T. (in a non-sexual way).
  • Hiro goes to his buddy's concert (he's a rock star).
  • Raven (bad guy?) kills a guy with many sensors on him.
  • Raven rides a motorcycle with a nuke (hence, no one objects to anything he does).
  • Hiro goes to 🌈metaverse🌈 to hang out in a hacker bar.
  • Hiro's buddy looks at the "snow crash" screen and becomes brain-dead.
  • Oh, "snow crash" is a digital drug.
  • Oh, it's also a literal drug.
  • Oh, it's a virus.
  • Oh, it's a digital virus that is transferrable by body fluids.
  • Oh, people's brains are like computers. We have literal "overrides" that are phrases you can say and people obey.
  • Oh, the "snow crash"? It's that override phrase.
  • Oh, how is it a biological drug? See, your *DNA mumbo-jumbo goes here* and *Sumer and Babel myths go here*.
  • There's a librarian, and it is a cool piece of software — basically, LLM.
  • Oh, and here's Google Maps.
  • Did I lose you yet? There's a floating agglomeration of ships that gets illegal immigrants from all over the world to the U.S. called "the raft."
  • Oh, that agglomeration is owned by a bad guy in the story who wants to enslave humanity with the overrides.
  • There is this war veteran who's a cyborg and also a semi-truck.
  • He has "rat things" (ultra-sonic cyborg dogs) that are used as a defense at some outposts, and he uses them to snatch a dose of "snow crash" before it self-destroys.
  • Oh, there are Russians.
  • Oh, Raven is Russian because, of course, he is.
  • Raven killed the whole nuclear submarine crew and snatched the nuke.
  • Y.T. is kidnapped to the raft.
  • Raven has very graphic sex with underage Y.T. after meeting her for the first time. She goes with it and enjoys it.

Yeah, I'll spare you the details. What, no one ever told you that there is that highly detailed underage sex (technically, molestation) scene with a guy who's like 40 or 50? Ha! That's because no one has read Snow Crash, remember?

Here's how it all ends:

  • The mafia boss, the semi-guy, Hiro, and a few others try to stop the bad guy in LAX.
  • Hiro stops Raven from distributing the "Snow Crash" in the metaverse.
  • I think the bad guy just gets blown up in a helicopter?
  • Ehm, that's it?

The book is full of cool concepts, and many have come true since the 90s. However, it seems like the author tried to squeeze in too much stuff, and many characters show up, do something, and vanish. I would love to see more of them if I cared about them. However, most of them are pretty one-dimensional, and the only exciting thing about them is usually their one-dimensional sci-fi dystopian backstory.

Should you read "Snow Crash?" I would certainly say yes if not for the damn scene with an underage girl being molested by a guy she just met on a weird raft. I'm not sure why this scene is there, but I can only attribute this to a latent desire that the author is trying to hide. The author is now on my block list, just like King after the 12-year-olds orgy at the end of "I.T."