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It would be about 2/3 as long without all the Sumerian mythology. But then it wouldn’t be Neal Stephenson.

Rating:  5 / 5

Let’s go through the opening of Snow Crash real quickly just to show you what it’s like.

We have this guy named Hiro. Hiro Protagonist. (Yes, that’s actually his name.) He was one of the original programmers of the Metaverse, which is like the Internet if the Internet forced you to freaking walk to every URL and website you visited, and the world’s greatest swordfighter. Go figure.

And he’s dead broke, working a pizza delivery job to earn enough scratch to live in a 600 sq. ft. storage unit with fuzz-grunge rock “star” Vitaly Chernobyl. His job title is “Deliverator.”

Do I see you shaking your head? No. You don’t understand. The Deliverator works for the Mafia, delivering pizzas in 30 minutes or less. If he fails, the don Uncle Enzo will show up personally and apologize – and the Deliverator will be sleeping with the environmentally-altered megafishes very shortly thereafter.

That all becomes clear in the first 5 pages or so, during my personal favourite opening literary action sequence of all time. Neal Stephenson’s novel won’t be everyone’s taste, but if you don’t mind slogging through his digressions on Sumerian mythology (or if you’re like me and actually enjoy that part of science fiction writing!) you’ll find this book chock full of humor, badassery, and absolute coolness. It only gets better from a guy who prefers his samurai swords to an electric minigun, people!

A final comment: Linguists, virologists and old *nix hands alike will find this book especially enjoyable because of how much they can relate to the ideas Stephenson presents that are critical to the central running of the plot. I fall a little bit uncertainly into the third category, which might explain why I was chuckling at his descriptions of the Metaverse and found the infospeak more interesting than grating. It is one of the reasons so many people get turned off of scifi in the first place, after all.

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