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seriouslyreadabook

Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking
Mike Rohde
The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman
The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
Data Points: Visualization That Means Something
Nathan Yau
James Buchanan
Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

Snow Crash

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson's characters and I seem to share quite a few interests (some of which are, admittedly, not for everybody). Though Snow Crash seems to be Stephenson's most popular book, I wouldn't give it the kind of universal recommendation status merited by the likes of Zodiac. However, I think it would appeal to a broader audience than say, Cryptonomicon, or Reamde (only in part due to the fact that those two each clock in at over 1,000 pages).

 

So, let's get that snow crashing! Ok, so it's not an avalanche survival story, but what do I really have to contribute to the body of Snow Crash commentary out there if not vaguely related Archer clips?

Archer Avalanche

 

Our protagonist, appropriately named Hiro Protagonist, is a freelance hacker, and pizza delivery guy (which, as a mafia-run industry that takes its promise of delivery in 30 minutes or less very seriously, is not an occupation without risk). Hiro's imaginary report card would read:

“Hiro is so bright and creative but needs to work harder on his cooperation skills.”

The gear in this futuristic world is really half the fun. Hiro (aka The Deliverator) has a uniform made of an “arachnofiber weave” that would put the tactical turtleneck to shame any day. Even the relatively lame Metacops get to have night vision goggles.

Archer Night Vision Goggles

 

Hiro's cooperation skills are put to the test when our other lead character, 15-year-old courier YT (it's supposed to stand for Yours Truly, but Michael Jackson's PYT kept getting stuck in my head), saves his skin by bailing him out of a near-miss pizza delivery. Couriers, of course, travel by skateboard, “pooning” passing cars to speed about the city. 

Archer Car Surf OC

 

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Hiro (as noted on his business card) is also the Greatest Swordfighter in the World.

Archer Katana Fight

 

I don't even know where to begin with the whole cyborg situation (a certain world's greatest secret agent would be decidedly uncomfortable in this Stephenson verse). I'll just say that there are some, and not all of them are good (duh). I mean, can you really even kill those things?

Bionic Barry dead or alive

 

Science or Fiction?

As in the other Stephenson books I've read, the sheer power of his intellect is on display in this one. After complaints from the reading public that Stephenson failed to cite sources with respect to Riemann Zeta function cryptography, Stephenson sent an email to “real life” mathematician/cryptography expert Michael Anshel in which he noted “that many readers of fiction underestimate just how much of a novel's content is simply made up.”

 

But, guess what Stephenson? There's a reason “that many readers seem to have [difficulty] in identifying the boundary between fact and fiction” in your books. And, for my money, that's not necessarily a bad thing! Sure, I should probably go and check out some of the bits about Sumerian etymology before I go tossing them around as fact, but at least now I'm interested enough to do so!