Ever since Facebook bought Oculus VR, I’ve been on a non-stop VR info binge. On all the VR boards I’ve been browsing, there are two books that come highly recommended. Ready Player One, and Snow Crash. I’ve read neither, but I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Snow Crash.
Snow Crash was published in 1992, and it shows in every way. The cyberpunk dystopian future described in Snow Crash is immediately familiar to anyone who’s seen The Matrix. Summaries of the cyberpunk genre often mention Snow Crash as a primary example. So if anything in the novel comes across as cliche or banal, it’s because it was born out of a more naive time.
Stephenson is very careful to never mention what year it is in the novel, as though he’s concerned with it remaining fresh well into the future. But there are also enough historic cultural references made to significantly mark the context. One character mentions that they could “just barely” recall when Bell was split up into the baby Bells. This character is also said to be in her 20s. The Bell breakup happened the year I was born, 1984, and I will be 30 in a little under two months. If she actually remembers (even “just barely) the Bell breakup, then Snow Crash can take place no later than 2012.
The next glaring issue that comes from reading Snow Crash from a 2014 mindset is the complete and total absence of post-9/11 terror paranoia and the complete absence of the 2008 economic recession. I realize that no one could foresee these things in 1992, but you can’t get from our present to Stephenson’s future. I cannot force my mind into imagining that Snow Crash is a possible future. It only scans as an alternate and inexplicable past.
The convoluted plot about Sumerian language and Babel feels a little like if Dan Brown got together with the makers of Zeitgeist: The Movie to produce a reboot of Ancient Aliens… also The Matrix.
And then there’s the race stuff. I think Stephenson’s intention was to make a statement about the fact that racism exists and is bad, but so many of his characters replicate a bunch of weird 90s-tinged racism that the book feels regressive. The white-sounding narrator’s impressions of what other ethnicities sound like don’t help. I have no idea when this audiobook was recorded (the video titles are labeled as tapes with sides A and B). When Sushi K, the Nipponese rapper is, um, rapping… It’s like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, if it had been made in 1992 and his character also rapped.
I’m almost finished. I can see why this would have been really imaginative when it came out. But it’s also like the literary equivalent of recovered home movies of people in shopping malls in the 80s.
Thus, when an Asian student does not get an A, and his fellow students respond with a mock shock, he may overlook the stereotype. This should be treated as the kind of bantering that is normal and tolerable.
So The Atlantic let this ancient old man write an opinion piece about why minorities need to stop getting so upset about being stereotyped.
What is going on over there?
It is our hope that anyone applying for this position would be a juice/smoothie enthusiast for a multitude of reasons.
You may laugh, but I reckon this is how we’ll all be managing our relationships in the future.
No, I was throwing up in my mouth a little bit, but I can see how it might sound like a stifled laugh.
The basic idea is that young alternative types had devoted so much energy to trying to define themselves as individuals, through ever-quirkier style flourishes like handlebar mustaches or esoteric pursuits like artisanal pickling…
Let’s get one thing straight, NYT. I pickle because I have always liked pickling. Full stop.
The core idea of the five justices in the majority is that spending money on political campaigns is a form of speech.
Never forget: our democracy means that money = speech = representation = power.
Don’t have money? You don’t deserve representation.
Better get money by any means necessary.