“SNOW CRASH” – Neal Stephenson (1992)

It’s hard to look at anything based on cyberpunk ethos and not immediately draw comparisons to William Gibson, but I’ll be damned if Neal Stephenson hasn’t written the finest Gibson novel Gibson never wrote. SNOW CRASH is the quintessential 90s imagining of The Future complete with tech skateboards ridden by young Kouriers delivering data packages for the mafia, street-punk lingo, katana-wielding pizza deliverymen, Moby Dick references, a fantastic antagonist, hard-wired physical technology and detailed descriptions of “The Metaverse” – that is, The Internet That Is Still Yet To Come. I really love the optimism of the 80s/90s cyberpunk authors in the timing of evolving technology, they always expect fantastical things to arrive much sooner than real-world development actually manages but more often than not their predicitvity is more hit than miss. For one thing, this novel came out three years before the ACTUAL rise of the internet and it’s this prophetic imagination that really draws me into science-fiction. In fact, the very nature of futurist writing comes itself to inform a lot of the ways that technology is understood and grown within a society, often working as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy (again, Gibson comes up a LOT in this area, essentially precursing the entirety of the online culture and technology in 1984’s NEUROMANCER), and SNOW CRASH is absolutely exceptional in its true realm of investigation: the correlation between the “hardware” of a human mind and the “software” of language that functions as a kind of BIOS (built-in operating system), and that of the computers we are creating and connecting ourselves to in more and more complex ways. Predicted elements include online avatars, Google Earth, cyberterrorism and personal data hacking.

Side note: Hiro Protagonist is the bestworst lead character name time of all time.

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