The last great hope of cyberpunk to visit us, and one of the best and funniest, Snow Crash walks on the wild side of fiction, and struts while doing so. From page one you know this isn’t a “normal” book: the first description is a pizza delivery man for the mob. If you don’t get your pizza in time, the godfather feels that he has lost face, and you are personally visited by the Dom, while the “Deliverator” gets a pair of cement shoes. And that’s just the beginning. The hero’s name is Hiro Protagonist. It’s obvious, it’s absurd, but because the author knows not to snicker at his broad pun himself, it works. For this isn’t just cyberpunk, although it has all the trappings; this is post-modern satire. And yet, even carrying all that dangerous literary baggage, it’s also a roller-coaster ride of an adventure novel. True believers, this one’s got everything.
I’m actually a late-comer on touting the pleasures of this novel, and usually I find myself not enjoying things when I’m slow to become culturally on-line with, for the sad fact that I like to be a leader, rather than a follower. But Snow Crash overcomes all that. I wanted to be skeptical, but found it impossible to be skeptical and to be enjoying myself so much at the same time.
There’s a macguffin here that the hard SF freaks balk at: the new-age, Babel, and Joseph Campbell influenced plot thread. To hell with them. This ain’t serio-SF. This is a cross between the most biting Douglas Adams and the most pyrotechnic William Gibson, and if Stephenson feels like he wants to be Robert Anton Wilson as well, I’m willing to follow him.
[Finished 23 April 1993]