So, I’m attempting to become a contributor at Adventures in SciFi Publishing. They’re a neat crew over there, and they’ve done some interesting podcasts with some very notable names including Tracy Hickman and David Farland. Moses Siregar is a buddy who contributes to their interviews, and he’s also writing The Black God’s War, an epic fantasy of epicness. In the good way.
Industry experts all agree–the best way to break into the industry is to ignore those walls. Start working with them. Most people are kind, enjoy a bright, inquisitive mind, and they’re often thrilled to have someone help their website or blog.
I chose this one. It’s mine. You can’t have it.
Shaun Farrell, the head guy at AISFP returned my email within a day, asking me to provide a review of a book as a sample. Insert heart sinking. Insert panic. Insert yikes. I didn’t have a review of a book. I’ve never reviewed anything literary. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that to him, but I’ve never been very good at that whole lying thing.
So, instead of returning his email empty-handed, I decided to smash together a review of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. I’ve read the book once or twice or twenty times, and it’s one of my favorites in the genre. In addition, it’s probably something he’s read, and thus serves well as an example of my particular style. Maybe. We’ll see.
Included below is my review. Seeing as the book was published almost twenty years ago, I doubt Shaun will want to publish this particular piece on his website. If he does, well, I’ll just delete this blog. Snip snip, like the balls of your favorite racehorse. My current readership of 10 would weep, I’m sure. But you guys love me, and you’d get over it.
The Deliverator’s car has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the Asteroid Belt. Unlike a bimbo box or a Burb beater, the Deliverator’s car unloads that power through gaping, gleaming, polished sphincters. When the Deliverator puts the hammer down, shit happens. You want to talk contact patches? Your car’s tires have tiny contact patches, talk to the asphalt in four places the size of your tongue. The Deliverator’s car has big sticky tires with contact patches the size of a fat lady’s thighs. The Deliverator is in touch with the road, starts like a bad day, stops on a peseta.
That’s an excerpt from the first chapter of Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. I think I lost my breath the first time I read that, like some monstrous, vile techno-nerd had ripped it from my chest. Come to think of it, I may have never gotten it back.
Snow Crash is the type of book that ruins other books. Some of them, you’ll never think of the same again. It towers above them, peers down at them with beady little eyes, and laughs at their futile efforts. Glance at the clock as the pages keep turning. Glance at it again, and wonder where the last hour of your life has vanished to.
I’ll tell you where it’s gone. Hiro Protagonist, the main character of Snow Crash, has sucked it into a void. You’ll never get it back. But then again, you’ll never want to. This book contains, among other things, an amazing cast of characters. They’re alive. They breathe.
Stephenson demands you follow their lives through a vivid landscape of prose and characterization. I’ve read many Science Fiction novels where the author throws random scifiish terms at their readers without thought or consideration. They’re supposed to create atmosphere, believability, or some such. Instead, many times those terms bounce from my forehead, splat upon the page, and I never really care to see them again. Not so with Snow Crash. Sure, Stephenson throws similar terms at his reader. He probably giggles like a maniac as he does so. But… but, they never feel forced, hackneyed, or out of place. They’re in his world, and he owns them.
Written in 1992, Stephenson wields an incredible vision of what the internet would eventually become, what we could eventually become. He examines ideas that, at the time, must have seemed as delusional as the first Tron movie did in ’82. In addition to that, he examines fragments of neuro-linguistic programming. Want to learn what it would be like if you could actually program someone’s brain? What about if you gave it a virus? Ah yes, my eager techno-punk reader, dive into this book to find out.
With all of that said, Snow Crash isn’t without its flaws. Impossible though it may seem, even techno-nerds suffer from the occasional weakness. Stephenson definitely isn’t shy about swear words, so it’s not all that kid friendly. Also, the last third of the book ambles on a touch, kind of like the neighborhood dog that just won’t stop yapping. It’s a cute little bugger, though, and I promise you won’t want to shoot its fuzzy little ratface. This is because some of the concepts the book examines are, well, intricate, and they’re a touch hard to follow on the first run-through. It does a great job of explaining said intricacies, but the whole batch together will probably take the average reader two reads to fully comprehend. They won’t mind.
Ah ha! So it’s flawed. Well, yes, in a way, a very small way, but its sheer awesomeness will shine through that. For the adult reader, the aforementioned strengths—atmosphere, prose, characterization, plotline, originality—overpower those shortcomings.
That is all.