My Geek Library: Neal Stephenson

I’m not much of a fanboy. But when you find there’s someone out there who has never failed in his or her professional capacity, to not just produce value, but to make you a bit giddy in the process, it’s time to pass along to others how great you’ve found the experience.

Neal Stephenson has written a metric buttload of awesomeness for the geek-minded novel devourer. And he has probably never written a sentence as bad as the preceding one. Over the years, his novels have become thicker, richer, and more… well, just more.

other ‘Geek Library’ posts

Note: Amazon has pulled the plug on Amazon Affiliates in retaliation for having to collect sales tax, so I’m not referring clients to Amazon, anymore. I’m also no longer buying from Amazon. #AmazonBoycott.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

I started with Snow Crash. A colleague, younger and smarter and hipper than I, suggested it. In case you think this is ordinary sci-fi, you should note that it is among the Time Magazine Top 100 Novels (1923 to present). Honestly, it’s not just me!

Snow Crash was published in 1992, which is worth noting because it predated the World Wide Web. Yet it predicted modern immersive online worlds, a la Second Life. In fact, the creators of Second Life have attributed their inspiration to this book. It also predicted the suitcase-sized nuke people have been worried about lately, although the terrorist in question is certainly not of a stripe anyone would’ve predicted. And the “hero protagonist” of the story is a Japanese-American hacker named, er, Hiro Protagonist. Hot Damn, that’s some fine pun-ditry!

Stephenson also ran with the trend of White Flight to gated communities, and the breakdown of centralized government towards a mix of organized crime, anarchy, and ethno-religious isolationism to its ultimate conclusion: The Burbclave. (Suburban Enclave, for the less tuned-in.) And the stuff about the poor nuclear-powered guard-dog-bot who’s task it is to protect one such burbclave is enough to make you swear off buying a Roomba! None of which will make sense to you until you drill into the world-gone-mad that Stephenson has conjured. It’s almost as bad as Citrus Heights. Remember 1992? The Reagan-Bush recession (remember the first Bush? He couldn’t speak in complete sentences, either). The Burbclave, of course, is the outcome of the trend that Reagan started of killing government, and causing societal breakdowns. After Bush II and the Contract on America, we’re nearly there. Another 8 years of that kind of leadership, and this novel becomes even more prescient. If not for the ’90’s, we’d be there now. Read this book now, so you can be prepared, haha! This novel is more zany and fast paced than dark and foreboding, though. The characters are fun and hilarious, and the action is non-stop. And, honestly, I’m leaving out the good parts in this review, because there’s no point trying to explain…

Next week: The Diamond Age

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