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message 1: by Sabookclub (new)

Sabookclub | 10 comments Mod
Talk and ask questions about Snow Crash here.

message 2: by Jacob (last edited Mar 08, 2010 02:33PM) (new)

Jacob (swiftypants) Crazy stuff.
I don't buy how the physical form of the virus was developed. I don't believe that the human body can create viruses from scratch no matter how much you screw with the brain. Human cells and human DNA isn't anything like viral DNA. I can see how a physical virus might contain DNA such that it could encode a software virus, but I don't see how a software virus could become a physical virus. I call bullshit!

message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda | 38 comments Mod
Okay I just don't know. I don't think I am smart enough or maybe I don't read enough in to things to understand this book. I am about 1/3 of the way in to it and I am still going "huh" I mean I don't get the point as of yet. (I'm at the scene where they are in the field and the tall guy is throwing sharp stuff... ya how is that for no spoilers" ) Am I missing deep dark meaning already or is the book just getting started?

message 4: by Jacob (last edited Mar 08, 2010 12:27PM) (new)

Jacob (swiftypants) The book is really just starting to get to the action, where you are at. You should just now be starting to get "used" to the funny cyberpunk future setting. The religious and mythological stuff comes later, and it really isn't all that deep and dark -- the author just tries to make it sound that way.

One of the defining features of cyberpunk is that it is exotic and mercilessly devoid of explanation. You pretty much have to figure things out on your own.
I think cyberpunk fans, who usually pride themselves in their ability to quickly adapt to new technology, new situations, and new ways of looking at things, consider this a virtue. When I was a young cyber-punk, I definitely used to think it was uber-cool to just "throw you in the futuristic setting without any kind of explanation". Those who aren't particularly interested in the cyber (new exotic technology) or the punk (harsh or unforgiving toughness) tend to see this as kind of pretentious or elitist.

I think some of the key points to pick up are:
1) In the future (or rather the fictional cyberpunk future which is actually modern days given that this was written about 20 years ago) people act and talk very differently. Hiro is a Pizza "Deliverator" not a Pizza Delivery Driver. YT is a "Kourier", not a Courier (delivery person -- think paperboy).
2) In the future things are different, especially politics, economics, and technology. A billion dollars is not much money (spare change?) and there are different kinds of money -- yen and kongbucks are apparently preferable to dollars. The US is no longer the main government. Each suburb is now its own sovereign nation with its own laws and its own police force. Some corporations (or even ethnic groups) seem to form their own government/political domains -- for instance, the mafia runs CosaNostra pizza and Nova Sicilia Inn -- and the seemingly Chinese "Mr Lee's Greater Hong Kong" franchulates (franchise / consulate). Apparently corporations in the future are very powerful (Think East Indian Trading Company during british colonial times). Japanese (Nipponese), Chinese, and Mafia seem to be the primary political powers.
3) Lots of techno gadgets abound. Y.T. has her super high-tech skateboard -- which apparently lots of kids use to make a living as kouriers in the future -- and her magnetic 'poon which is short for Harpoon, which skaters (thrashers/kouriers) use to hitch a ride on cars. She apparently has something called a dentata in her (ahem) down below -- which is apparently some kind of anti-rape device that lots of young girls use in the future. Hiro has his computer that lets him visit the Metaverse (sort of a virtual reality version of the Internet) -- and of course he used to drive a funky futuristic pizza delivery car before he decided to crash it into a swimming pool. Dr Emanual Lagos wears a full body suit ("Gargoyle") of gadgets and cameras and microphones that allows him to record everything around him while simulteneously having computer access to the Metaverse. Raven (the big tall guy) has a cool motorcycle with a side car that apparently emits radiation that can be detected with a geiger counter (that can't be good). And so forth.
Important Characters at this point are:
Hiro Protagonist - the hero and protagonist of the plot -- he's half african-american (father) and half korean (his mother was a korean servant in japan). He's a computer hacker, and a swordsman. Since he was born in the 70's, he's apparently 30-something years old. One must presume that he was a famous hacker mere years after the book was published (or perhaps at approximately the same time (1992), and has had perhaps scarcely more than 10 or 15 years to mature into the man he has become (and for the fictional future to diverge from our own 1992 and evolve or devolve into the corporate hellscape that it has become).
Y.T. - "Yours Truely" is a young (15 year old -- probably only just born in Neal Stephenson's 1992) girl. Nonetheless she seems to be a successful Kourier with awesome skateboarding and delivery skills. Her only family is her mother who works for the US government -- or what's left of it. As skilled as she is a 'pooning rides, that's childsplay compared to her scathing sarcastic 'tude and nautical nomenclature (i.e. she cusses like a sailor).
Da5id Meier - (Not sure if its pronounced "David" or "Da-five-id" -- V is 5 in roman numerals so probably just a silly way of spelling "DaVid") He's an old hacker that Hiro used to hang out with all the time. He own the Black Sun the metaverse club that Hiro likes to hang out at. He's really smart. That's must be why he becomes one of the first high-profile hackers to stupidly get infected with the Snow Crash virus.
Jaunita Marquez - Hiro's old girlfriend back when they were both hackers and employees for The Black Sun. She married Da5id after she broke up with Hiro, but that didn't last either. She divorced Da5id a couple of years ago. Now she is investigating some kind of religious fanatic group -- and the Snow Crash virus. Raven -- The tall Indian looking guy who likes to peddle Snow Crash, ride a radioactive motorcycle, and throw bamboo sticks at people (all the way through them). Raven's a bad ass and probably the closest thing we have to a villain so far. You'll find out more about him later -- I don't want to spoil it.

Does that help? Sorry for any spoilers, those of you who are lagging behind, but umm.. I don't think any of that is particularly spoilish.

message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda | 38 comments Mod
You know what I am having most problems with. It's not the language its more creating the worlds in my mind. Like all these mini "countries" that they area able to access in no time at all. I guess in my head its more like the Jetsons where they are just flying in little cars going from like pod to pod that are countries. I know that's not what is happening but its the only way that my brain is being able to make sense of everything.

message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda | 38 comments Mod
Thinks maybe Jake should lead the discussion on this one! haha. Once more I should have been taking notes while I read but did not maybe Shannon will and be a great leader for the book :)

message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda | 38 comments Mod
Just finished the book. Really...WTF??? Honestly. That's the end?

message 8: by James (new)

James (morewordsfaster) | 10 comments Swiftypants wrote: "Crazy stuff.
I don't buy how the physical form of the virus was developed. I don't believe that the human body can create viruses from scratch no matter how much you screw with th..."


I think what it comes down to is the idea that 'IN THE BEGINNING' (of time, life, civilization, whatever), the first languages were more than words -- the words themselves held more meaning than just being sounds we make. The NAME of something truly evoked that actual thing. If the virus grew out of being able to use word-memes to reprogram the mind, I could definitely see it becoming a physical virus--MIND over MATTER :)

message 9: by Jacob (last edited Mar 12, 2010 06:21PM) (new)

Jacob (swiftypants) Yeah, but for the most part it seems to only be a hypnotic behavioral response to the virus -- which is a plausible concept. As plausible as, say, pizza driver being a respectable profession in a dystopian future, anyway.
But a hypnotic suggestion causing the body to somehow build a virus from scratch -- surely Mr. Stephenson has at least considered the impracticality and considered some alternative explanations, no?
Take this quote from Snow Crash, for instance:

"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."

Here, Stephenson compares a business franchise to a virus. Both, conceivably, are self propagating entities that envelop resources about themselves and multiply themselves until the environment can no longer plausibly sustain it.
But what is missing is a mechanism for how the concept might leap out of one environment, say, the local urban ecosystem, and into another, say, human genetics -- or viral genetics -- which, by the way, is not the same thing -- if it were human genetics, I would pass the knowledge of how to run a pizza franchise down to my children as instinctual knowledge -- but as viral genetics it would require a viral infection as in the book).
It actually seems more likely to me that informational behavior could be inserted into the genetic code -- though modern biologists deny this is possible, as I understand it, only natural selection is supposed to be able to determine genetic instinctual behavior -- and it seems less likely to me that the human body would somehow develop factories for producing or manipulating viral DNA.
Okay, I better stop there, I'm starting to nerd myself out.

message 10: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (swiftypants) Linda wrote: "Just finished the book. Really...WTF??? Honestly. That's the end?"
What, were you hoping that YT and Raven would hook back up in the end? She's only 15 years old fer crissake! He's old enough to be her dad! Also you can't put a nuclear motorcycle in act 1, scene 4, and not blow it up by the end of act 5.

message 11: by James (new)

James (morewordsfaster) | 10 comments Swiftypants wrote: "Yeah, but for the most part it seems to only be a hypnotic behavioral response to the virus -- which is a plausible concept. As plausible as, say, pizza driver being a respectable profession in a ..."

I see where you're going with this, and I'll admit it's been a couple years since I've read the book so I'll forego an immediate response to avoid saying something uninformed :D

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