Neal Stephensons Snow Crash, a sci-fi book that is wildly popular with readers worldwide, stands alongside William Gibson's Neuromancer as the foundational text for the cyberpunk movement. Anthony Ha, a science fiction author, was completely blown away when he read Snow Crash in the late 1990s.
In Episode 487, Ha explains that this was a time when virtual reality was presented in a clunky way in TV and movies. It wasn't that Snow Crash was my first encounter with this kind of iconography. But it was the first that it really seemed cool.
Snow Crash is the story of Hiro Protagonist (a hacker-wielding katana-wielding hacker) who travels between dystopian Los Angeles, and a virtual world called The Metaverse. Geeks Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley noted that the novel inspired many entrepreneurs and inventors such as Reid Hoffman, John Carmack, and Palmer Luckey. Kirtley says that I began a list of Silicon Valley people who cited this book as an inspiration. I stopped at a point because it was almost everyone.
Snow Crash is as stylish and fun as ever. However, some aspects of the book are no longer relevant. Lisa Yaszek, a science fiction professor, says the book is flawed from 2021's perspective. She says that if you are interested in learning more about cyberpunk's history and development, it is worth reading. This is the moment when cyberpunk will become a global storytelling medium, and where authors of color and LGBTQ+ peoplesave a lot of time.
Sam J. Miller, a science fiction author, notes that Snow Crash's characters feel thin. Rat Thing, a robot guard dog named Rat Thing is one of the most sympathetic characters in the book. Miller said that Rat Thing is the character who I felt most connected to. He has an emotional arc and a heart. Everyone else is like that, they have three pairs of sunglasses they are so cool.
Listen to the entire interview with Anthony Ha and Lisa Yaszek in Episode 487 (above). You can also see highlights of the conversation below.
David Barr Kirtley discusses character development
Hiro was interesting and he shared interesting stories with his parents and Y.T. the relationship she had with her mother. However, I felt that the character development of the characters just stopped as the book progressed. Juanita and Da5id were not really seen. He is in a coma, but it could have been cured. It was a complicated story with so many characters and organizations. Although it's all great, the book has a lot of interesting characters and organizations. However, I felt that the characterisation was lacking. There wasn't any emotional vulnerability, heart-to-heart moments or regrets. It felt only superficial.
Anthony Ha's backstory:
If you are reading the book to find the plot, then the backstory can become a distraction. At key moments and climactic moments, Hiro will suddenly jump to the library to have a conversation with the Librarian about [ancient Sumeria] as he prepares to fight another swordfight or something similar. Even if you are younger, your foot may be tapping impatiently, especially when youre reading the book for the first time. Stephenson basically said, "Man, isn't language just like an virus?" Isn't that cool? I thought so. "
Sam J. Miller on floating Cities:
Before I wrote Blackfish City, I visited in Cambodia a community made up mostly of Vietnamese refugees. They are basically a floating community. They have a church and a school and all the things you need on floats. There is also a convenience store where you can buy lottery tickets and gasoline. And they even have alligator farms. It's incredible, but it's also very tragic. They don't have a high standard of living. They are unable to live on the land due to immigration issues, in large part. Although floating cities are an interesting idea, I believe that in practice it would be a scenario that only evolved out of necessity and probably not very great.
Lisa Yaszek on economics:
It is interesting to see the way that the virus is used, which is to take over bodies to produce goods that don't go to the bodies. Snow Crash is thinking as much as it does about language and labor. That's what I find most interesting about it. It is in many ways a response to William Gibson. It's a good book, I love utopian thinking. However, Gibson often seems to be naive about the possibility of marginalized communities resisting incorporation and destruction through promissory capitalism. Part of the book's appeal, and my favorite part, is its exploration of whether it would be possible to stay out of capitalism's nets.
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