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Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

Snow Crash

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson (Disclaimer: I have not yet read the Baroque Cycle. I know, I know--I'm a bad geek.)

That said, I love Neal Stephenson. I love the way he plays with language, and writes action scenes that make you race through the first time, then go back and read them again for the rush. I like his characters; they're smart (but occasionally dumb), funny (except when they're being serious), and strong (unless they're being vulnerable). In short, they're human (except for a touch of the Mary Sue/Gary Stu here and there).

This is the nearish-future story of Hiro Protagonist, who delivers pizzas for the Mafia in what used to be the Los Angeles area. Hiro also is a serious hacker, however, and was one of the forbears of the virtual-reality universe that everyone escapes to to avoid the real world: the Metaverse, where all is possible.

One fine day, Hiro notices that something is amiss in the Metaverse and in real life: people appear to be becoming infected with a virus, Snow Crash, that turns them into compliant "zombies," if their brains aren't outright destroyed. With the help of a motley crew of allies, including an awesome female skateboarding Kourier(TM) named Y.T., Hiro races to stop the spread of the virus and to destroy it at its source. Along the rollicking way, there are discussions of the literal power of language, religious history, and martial arts, all set in a background of amazing technology.

This is one of the foundational books, people. It's where we got the terms "avatar" (meaning cypher for a person) and "Metaverse" from. The fact that it's engrossing and fun is just a bonus. Read it.