Blue's Reviews > Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Sep 17, 2012

really liked it
Read from September 15 to 17, 2012

Rating is probably more like 3.5 stars, I'm rounding up due the interesting ideas posed here and the extensive use of Rule of Cool.

Snow Crash alternates taking itself seriously and being light-hearted. In terms of the concepts posed and the "hardness" of the sci-fi, it feels like a serious book, but the writing is made to flow in a humorous, cheesy way that is heavy-handed on bizarre analogies.

The book is made of Rule of Cool. The protagonists are Hiro Protagonist, a samurai-sword-wielding hacker and pizza delivery boy, and Y.T., a Kourier that delivers messages by using an electromagnetic "harpoon" to latch onto cars on the expressway and trail them on her skateboard. They become embroiled in a giant conspiracy thing that depends on lots of biological handwaving that you shouldn't think too hard about, but the ideas posed in the discussion of the conspiracy are enjoyable in a Dan Brown "fake but touching on just enough history to sound vaguely plausible" kind of way.

Also, Snow Crash has to be given props for its prescience. Written in the late 80s/early 90s and published in '92, it has some remarkable accuracies regarding modern technology and the internet. Of course, there's a lot of stuff that doesn't exist today either (smartwheels sound awesome), but credit where credit is due. Evidently one of the first pieces of text to use "avatar" to refer to one's digital representation on the internet, so, wow. That caught on.
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Quotes Blue Liked

Neal Stephenson
“To condense fact from the vapor of nuance.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“The franchise and the virus work on the same principle, what thrives in one place will thrive in another. You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder ― its DNA ― Xerox it, and embed it in the fertile line of a well-traveled highway, preferably one with a left turn lane. Then the growth will expand until it runs up against its property lines.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Ninety-nine percent of everything that goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire one hundred percent is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people's minds.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Most countries are static, all they need to do is keep having babies. But America's like this big old clanking smoking machine that just lumbers across the landscape scooping up and eating everything in sight.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Southern California doesn't know whether to bustle or just strangle itself on the spot.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“It’s, like, one of them drug dealer boats,” Vic says, looking through his magic sight. “Five guys on it. Headed our way.” He fires another round. “Correction. Four guys on it.” Boom. “Correction, they’re not headed our way anymore.” Boom. A fireball erupts from the ocean two hundred feet away. “Correction. No boat.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“The franchise and the virus work on the same principle: what thrives in one place will thrive in another. You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder ― its DNA ― xerox it, and embed it in the fertile lining of a well-traveled highway, preferably one with a lef- turn lane. Then the growth will expand until it runs up against its property lines.

In olden times, you’d wander down to Mom’s Café for a bite to eat and a cup of joe, and you would feel right at home. It worked just fine if you never left your hometown. But if you went to the next town over, everyone would look up and stare at you when you came in the door, and the Blue Plate Special would be something you didn’t recognize. If you did enough traveling, you’d never feel at home anywhere.

But when a businessman from New Jersey goes to Dubuque, he knows he can walk into a McDonald’s and no one will stare at him. He can order without having to look at the menu, and the food will always taste the same. McDonald’s is Home, condensed into a three-ringed binder and xeroxed. “No surprises” is the motto of the franchise ghetto, its Good Housekeeping seal, subliminally blazoned on every sign and logo that make up the curves and grids of light that outline the Basin.

The people of America, who live in the world’s most surprising and terrible country, take comfort in that motto.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“...class is more than income - it has to do with knowing where you stand in a web of social relationships.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Hiro is a talented drifter. This is the kind of lifestyle that sounded romantic to him as recently as five years ago. But in the bleak light of full adulthood, which is to one's early twenties as Sunday morning is to Saturday night, he can clearly see what it really amounts to: He's broke and unemployed.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“There is a certain kind of small town that grows like a boil on the ass of every Army base in the world.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“...in the background she can hear the shopping carts performing their clashy, anal copulations.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Shut up. For the rest of this conversation, you don't say anything. When I tell you what you did wrong, you don't say you're sorry, because I already know you're sorry. And when you drive outta here alive, you don't thank me for being alive. And you don't even say goodbye to me.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Hiro feels even at this moment that something has been torn open in the world and that he is dangling above the gap, staring into a place where he does not want to be.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Follow the loglo outward, to where the growth is enfolded into the valleys and the canyons, and you find the land of the refugees. They have fled from the true America, the America of atomic bombs, scalpings, hip-hop, chaos theory, cement overshoes, snake handlers, spree killers, space walks, buffalo jumps, drive-bys, cruise missiles; Sherman's March, gridlock, motorcycle gangs, and bungee jumping. They have parallel-parked their bimbo boxes in identical computer-designed Burbclave street patterns and secreted themselves in symmetrical sheetrock shitholes with vinyl floors and ill-fitting woodwork and no sidewalks, vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness, a culture medium for a medium culture.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“This Snow Crash thing--is it a virus, a drug, or a religion?”

Juanita shrugs. “What's the difference?”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“On a sub, you know, there's no place for things to drain to. The survivors claimed that the blood was knee-deep all through the submarine.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Ideology is a virus.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“Sorry, baby. Let's get out of here,” he says, speaking with the intense, strained tones of a man with an erection.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson
“That's when the realization comes. It swims up out of her subconscious in the same way that a nightmare does. Or when you leave the house and remember half an hour later that you left a teakettle going on the stove. It's a cold clammy reality that she can't do a damn thing about.”
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash


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09/15/2012
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