Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The bit with the dog always gets me
After reading Snow Crash last weekend I had to spend quite a bit of time cuddling my puppy. Even when the universe you're reading about is full of bright neon and filthy streets and a strange future, there's just something about the feelings of dogs for humans and humans for dogs that will always resonate with anyone whose heart isn't made of ceramic.
Snow Crash is an unbelievably great book. I know I harp on Stephenson a lot and think that everyone should read his work, but I'm fucking serious about Snow Crash. You can't claim to be into sci-fi in this day and age if you haven't read Snow Crash because it's one of maybe three books written since 1980 that's really changed the sci-fi landscape. And fuck the sci-fi landscape, it's one of maybe ten books written in the last few decades that's changed the literal landscape that all of us inhabit. It's kind of like Star Trek - without Star Trek to aspire to we might still be using wall-mounted phones and 3D printers would be something that we couldn't imagine, much less assemble in our garages. Without Snow Crash the entire internet might not have blossomed into the crazy pornfest that we all know and love and video games would still be mouldering in 8 bits.
And we might not have this whole argument going about net neutrality (which is almost too depressing to even get into) because the neutrality argument would have gone out the window decades ago if people like Stephenson hadn't warned us (meaning the general population, not serious techies) about it first.
In a lot of ways Snow Crash is one of the most amazing, kick-ass, eerily-predictive books ever. It's also a story about a digital samurai, capitalism run rampant, liberty, and a healthy dose of Sumerian mythology. But it's also a simple story about people, and for at least a few pages it's about a dog who thinks of himself as Fido and the nice girl who he loves.
It's not every super-slick sci-fi history lesson that can make me cry like a baby, but this one sure does. Stephenson covers a lot of wonderful ground and makes a brilliant and terrifying universe for us to peer into, but he also tempers it with simple things that all of us can relate to; feelings of love and loss, the relationships that teenage girls always seem to have with their mothers, and the pants-shitting fear of totalling a mafia-owned pizza delivery car.
And read it, seriously.
Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. Bantam Books. New York, New York. 1993. (1992)