Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison - a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately.
©1992 Neal Stephenson; (P)2001 Audible, Inc.
Brilliantly realized...Stephenson turns out to be an engaging guide to an onrushing tomorrow. (The New York Times Book Review)
"Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the 21st century." (William Gibson)
No plot spoilers here. My book club recently agreed this as a 7.5/10. As an audiobook it's well read, and, when I bought it, extremely good value. The storyline has minor flaws and the characterisation is argueably two-dimensional..but the author does an excellent job of telling an entertaining yarn with thoughtful and witty situations and asides in an overall entertaining package. This would obviously make a great Manga comic, and that is, I'm told, exactly what the author intended. In that sense the lack of depth of characterisation is understandable....in cartoon form this would be easier to allow the reader to infer. You get a lot for your money here...with some of the details and asides that flesh out this concievable (slightly sardonic) dystopia being enough to constitute a novella on their own. In the end, it doesn't necessarily deliver more than it promises, but it certainly doesn't deliver less.
One of the difficulties with audiobooks, in particular with books that you've previously read, is finding a narrator who sounds right.
Snowcrash has been one of my favourite books for years and I was delighted to find that Jonathon Davis 'gets it'. The pacing of the story, the emphasis of the words and the voicing of the characters is pretty much spot on for me, so this audiobook gets five stars with no quibbles!
Neal Stephenson is a superbly imaginative writer, he shows this to great effect in 'Snow Crash'. The detail and invention of his 'Snow Crash' world is truly mind boggling.
Although I enjoyed the book, and the narration is superb, I think I would have preferred to read this on the page, as it were; although the narrative and plot hurtle along in good style, the characters are somewhat cartoon-like and two dimensional, serving largely as vehicles to carry the story, and this means that the fantasy backdrop has to carry the listener's interest for much of the 17 hours of the book - that's a long time.
One other point to note: you really need to have some knowledge and/or interest in computers and virtual reality to follow the plot.
Overall four stars, but my recommendation would be to read the book rather than listen to it.
This is one of my all time favourite books and listening to it read out loud was no disappointment.
The depth and tone of Jonothan Davis' voice perfectly matches the tone of the book. It is now imprinted in my memory with his voice. Excellent!
I enjoyed listening to snowcrash its` pace variation fitted in well with my other activities. The two 'universes' worked well although I became confused with the different city-states in the real one (but my american geography never was that good!) As usual with this narrator the pictures are so vivid it beats HD TV.
Snow Crash was an instant favourite when first encountered as a student in the 90s (studying ancient civilisations by day, gaming by night...) and 20 years hasn't dulled it's appeal. Having it delivered straight to your ear by the smooth, effortless voice of Jonathan Davis while your body is doing other things is a definite treat - shades of the Metaverse? Some of the technology and concepts have lost their initial impact due to the passage of time but the story does not feel dated. The pace moves from fast and furious to scholarly pauses and back again with ease. The unlikely main characters are engaging for both their abilities and their flaws; the burbclaves and franchised countries are all too believable for anyone who has come across "suburb snobbery" in a modern city. And I defy any dog lover not to moved by the Rat Things. An action packed, witty, intelligently observed, bizarre, tongue in cheek vision of our near future.The narration by Jonathan Davis is animated and excellently done. A voice actor that can believably be a teenage skater chick, a computerised librarian and a Vietnamese cyborg with ease, consistency and flawless movement between each is a joy to listen to.The final word? I wish there was a way to read/listen to Snow Crash again for the first time.
I go hot and cold on Stephenson- loved Diamond Age; petered out on the Baroque Cycle. Glad I tried this one out, it's zippy and fun, if oddly retro 20 years on (Second Life not being exactly the It place to be for example). I had only a vague idea what was going on half the time but the lively writing and excellent reading kept me enjoying it. Davis does a great job with all the characters, I especially enjoyed his rendition of the eye-rolling teenage skater-girl.
As an esotericist and cyberpunk fan I really loved this.
There is lots of info dumb about misty old religions and new technology which some times interrupted the flow of the story, but it was very interesting stuff, so I didn't mind.
There is also kind of slight grin at the writers face all the time so the book was fun and very entertaining.
Got into Neal Stephenson via a Stephen King book (The Cell) and have been hooked ever since. Just the right level of detail to plot ratio to keep things moving. This book was fab and well narrated too.
A tightly constructed thriller set in the near future when nations as we now know them have be replaced by corporate franchises and life is lived between a dystopian reality and a fast developing visrtual reality. Some sort of virus seems to be able to infect users on he net and also to continue its work on them in real life. Our hero "Hero Protagonist" has to find out what's going on and put a stop to it. This is early Stephenson but it's already marked by the incredible breadth of sources he can pull into his story (ancient Sumerian history, coding, world war 2, Japanese culture), the way he plays with ideas like what would happen if nationhood were privatrized, his humour and his gift for dialogue. The dialogue is particularly good and offers a reminder of how challenging other genre fiction authors find to bring characters to life through what they say and how they say it. This only gets three stars for the story because at times he sort of gives up and let's the main character lapse into pages of exposition in order to shift the plot along but overall it's still a very enjoyable and immersive listen.
It's been several years since I read this book, so thought it'd be fun to give the audiobook a listen. I do have to say that I think it's one of those books that is better read than listened to via audio. That said, I think the narrator did a good job capturing the book and it is a fun story. First released in 1992, the same year "www" was coined, it's interesting to see how many of his "predictions" have come true and how much sounds dated. Stephenson is someone who explains tech in detail - all of his books are that way - which I find fascinating. But, if in-depth explanations bore you, he's not the author for you.
"A solid sci-fi novel"
This book has a lot going for it. For starters the plot is great. A lot of twists and turns and you're never quite sure what's going to happen (or even what's going on). The characters are wonderfully crafted and the dialog is well written and entertaining. A wonderfully dry humor is mixed in well with the action. Also, major kudos to the narrator. He does such a great job that the audio book may very well be better then paper edition.
Part of the plot revolves around the study of biblical era documents, including the bible itself. I did sometimes find this part of the plot somewhat frustrating. But that's probably due to the fact that I know something about biblical exegesis, and the conclusions drawn by the characters in the book are wildly inaccurate. I suppose this frustration would be similar to the frustration felt by a physicist as he watched Star Trek. Or by a military tactician as he watched a Rambo film. It can just be frustrating to have a subject that you know about used as a plot device. Let's just say that you'll learn about as much about biblical study after reading Snow Crash as you'd learn about physics by watching Captain Picard use "and inverted tachyon beam to scan the wormhole."
Don't get this book if you'll be offended by the use of Christian and biblical events as a plot device. Also be aware that there is some profanity. It's not gratuitous, but it is fairly frequent.
But all of that aside, this is a really good book. If you're a sci-fi fan, you'll probably like it. If you're a cyber-punk fan, this is required reading. But even if you're not a sci-fi fan, you could very well enjoy this book. Just keep an open mind and buckle your seat belt. It's quite a ride.
"Excellent example of what an audiobook should be"
Thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. I listen to audiobooks quite frequently and I can honestly say this is my favorite. A reasonably intelligent use of sound effects and excellent vocalizing make this a joy to listen to. I had originally read this in paperback and was quite suprised to find myself identifying MORE with the characters through the audiobook than I had in my original reading.
While this IS considered sci-fi and/or cyberpunk, don't let those terms scare you off. The envisioned future is pretty realistic and just 'gritty' enough to give you a good feel for it. Most of the technology is pretty conceivable and easy to understand - and very little of it is thrown in just because the author's supposed to be writing 'sci-fi'.
The audio version does bog down a bit in one or two spots. Some of the religious lingo/jargon/names was a bit easier to absorb in hardcopy. It's a lot easier to look back a page or two - or know you read that name just a minute ago and glance back over a paragraph or three - than it is to zap your MP3 player back 6 or 7 minutes. You might want to bookmark the beginning of such sections if you're either a die-hard fan or a theology major... Otherwise, listen through it and absorb what you can. You'll get a good idea where things are heading in short order.
A few years ago when I had become interested in the virtual reality of Second Life, a friend recommended Snow Crash to me. I had not heard of the book but having such a high regard for the friend, I kept it tucked away in my synapses. Boy am I glad that I did. This is a book about virtual reality that is very much like Second Life. But it is so, so much more. In fact I think that there is no end to the more. It includes Sumerian myth, a hero/protagonist named Hiro Protagonist and a landscape so much like modern-day America, you won't miss it. Hopefully you won't miss the book either. It is funny, hip and cool as can be. The book is mind boggling, outrageous and not like anything I have ever read.
"A very clever book."
Snow Crash is not only very entertaining, it has a series of clever twists and a strong back story that set it aside from many science fiction stories.
Comedy and drama are well entwined throughout, neither detracting from the overall mood and pace of the book and the protagonists are well drawn.
I can highly recommend the excellent audio recording, which is a great format for this novel.
This book was one of the genre defining works along with William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Walter Jon Williams and others of the Cyberpunk movement. Stephenson is an entertainer as well as a visionary and I think a vivid personal imagination is required to truly "get" this as well as his other works. I cannot recommend this book enough and I wish more of his work, as well as the others I mentioned above, was available on audio. Seek out "The Diamond Age" by Stepehnson as well if you like this novel. The narrator is amazing, next to Frank Muller he is the only one I would search out on other books regardless of their subject matter.
"A Graphic Novel for the Sightless"
No one writing today has more ideas about the history of technology or more passion for popular culture, or more willingness to spin heady theories about all of the above in densely plotted and populated novels than Neal Stephenson. Sometimes these ideas are exhilarating. Sometimes they're just dumb. But even when Stephenson resembles your crank engineer uncle on meth, he manages to do so with humor and elan. "Snow Crash" is an all-prose comic book, a novel that manages to be simultaneously apocalyptic and slight.
"Long to start but engaging once into it"
I found that the techno jargon/slang was initially fairly shallow and repetitive. The story could have done with a much shorter setup of the characters and period, with a bit less attempt at a clever approach. This almost felt like word filling to make a minimum.
However, once the story got going, it developed into a very engaging and well through out tale. The characters and interactions kept me listening until the very end, where I found it to be nicely all wrapped up.
"A Journey Into Escapism"
This is one of my first audiobooks selections and I chose it for it's length (value) and my interests in computers, technology, and future predictions. I listened to the sample and it sounded a little too "off the wall" for me, but I decided to give it a go anyway.
At first I was distracted by the verbal landscape but soon I was drawn in and the characters began to become likable and someone that I could relate to.
Concepts that I really liked:
1. A cyber universe where one could almost live, die, and play in... an Internet on steroids?
2. A virus that could gap the digital world to the physical world.
3. An ancient language that was, and is, common to all people
The characters are inventive, interesting, and quite unusual. The plot takes all kinds of twists and kept me anxiously wanting to go back to listening. The reader does a great job and does not detract from the story.
Bottom line, I found this a strange, yet compelling, story that I enjoyed very much.
So far the two Neil Stevenson books I have listened to, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, have proved to be very entertaining and thought provoking. The techknolodgy he creates as part of the setting and times is both imaginative and maybe even wildly plausable. I think for me , what sets him apart is his sense of humour. The combination makes for a very enjoyable read.
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