I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosoNostra 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.
I guess the cyberpunk part of the science fiction world is just never going to be my favourite thing. As far as the cyberpunk novels that I have read (not many), this is so far my favourite.
I’m not into computer programming or virtual reality and I really don’t idolize hackers or their culture, so I am not the target audience for this sub-genre. However, there were a lot of clever details in it, like the name of the main character, Hiro Protagonist—no mistaking who is the star in this one. Stephenson did what so many good writers do—he took contemporary trends and played them out to extreme lengths, reminding me a bit of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. He also wove in quite a lot of esoteric scholarship, namely Sumerian history and linguistics, ancient Semitic religion, and brain physiology, which he expertly entwines with computer programming. This use of ancient & modern details in such a complex way reminded me strongly of Tim Powers’ Last Call.
If you are a fan of the cyberpunk genre, I would encourage you to pick up this book. Stephenson is an excellent writer and the story is both amusing and entertaining (although I did feel like the ending just kind of petered out instead of really resolving anything). If you enjoy the fiction of Tim Powers or William Gibson (Neuromancer or The Difference Engine), I think there is a strong chance that you will appreciate Snow Crash too.
Book number 312 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.