Now featuring never-before-seen material, the “brilliantly realized” (The New York Times Book Review) breakthrough novel from visionary author Neal Stephenson, a modern classic that predicted the metaverse and inspired generations of Silicon Valley innovators
Hiro lives in a Los Angeles where franchises line the freeway as far as the eye can see. The only relief from the sea of logos is within the autonomous city-states, where law-abiding citizens don’t dare leave their mansions.
Hiro delivers pizza to the mansions for a living, defending his pies from marauders when necessary with a matched set of samurai swords. His home is a shared 20 X 30 U-Stor-It. He spends most of his time goggled in to the Metaverse, where his avatar is legendary.
But in the club known as The Black Sun, his fellow hackers are being felled by a weird new drug called Snow Crash that reduces them to nothing more than a jittering cloud of bad digital karma (and IRL, a vegetative state).
Investigating the Infocalypse leads Hiro all the way back to the beginning of language itself, with roots in an ancient Sumerian priesthood. He’ll be joined by Y.T., a fearless teenaged skateboard courier. Together, they must race to stop a shadowy virtual villain hell-bent on world domination.
In California of the near future, when the U.S. is only a ``Burbclave'' (city-state), the Mafia is just another franchise chain (CosaNostrastet Pizza, Incorporated) and there are no laws to speak of, Hiro Protagonist follows clues from the Bible, ancient Sumer and high technology to help thwart an attempt to take control of civilization--such as it is. When he logs on to Metaverse, an imaginary place entered via computer, Hiro encounters Juanita Marquez, a ``radical'' Catholic and computer whiz. She warns him off Snow Crash (a street drug named for computer failure) and gives him a file labeled Babel (as in Tower of Babel). Another friend, sp ok/pk Da5id, who ignores Juanita's warning, computer crashes out of Metaverse into the real world, where he physically collapses. Hiro, Juanita, Y.T. (a freewheeling, skateboard-riding courier) and sundry other Burbclave and franchise power figures see some action on the way to finding out who is behind this bizarre ``drug'' with ancient roots. Although Stephenson ( Zodiac ) provides more Sumerian culture than the story strictly needs (alternating intense activity with scholarship breaks), his imaginative juxtaposition of ancient and futuristic detail could make this a cult favorite.
Along with William Gibson's works, this (and Neal's other works) are must reads for any fan of sci-fi and cyber-punk in particular.