Since the OffWorld group will be reading Neal Stephenson novels over the next three months. we thought it a good idea to provide some brief descriptions of a few of the more popular ones.
These come courtesy of Phillip Washington:
SNOW CRASH (1992)
Snow Crash follows the story of a man named Hiro Protaganist, a half-black, half-asian computer programmer and samurai prince of the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a virtual reality construct where people come to interact and stage heroic battles and build entire worlds of their own. It has been said that the Metaverse, as Neal Stephenson wrote about it, was the inspiration for the popular game Second Life. As a computer virus begins to disrupt the entire Metaverse, and affect real-world events as well, Hiro teams up with a rebellious, foul-mouthed, roller-blading 15 year old girl named YT to investigate. What follows is an adventure from Land, Sea and Virtual Worlds involving samurais, religious cults, Sumerian mythology and pizza delivery. Did I mention that this book is fucking hilarious?
Zodiac is a story about Sangammon Taylor – a chemist, employee of G.E.E (Group of Environmental Extremists), and an overall fierce proponent of ecological “do-goodery”. He is also the type of guy you might find huffing nitrous oxide in his free time. Working as a professional headache for industrial polluters, Sangammon unexpectedly finds large amounts of incredibly toxic materials in Boston Harbor. Just as soon as he discovers these poisons, they magically disappear , violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Then people start trying to kill him. Zodiac is a fast-paced eco-thriller. It is hilarious, informative, and you will more than likely think twice before drinking tap water ever again after reading it.
Anathem could easily be mistakem for the Bible, if not for the appearance of monks and hooded, robed figures on the cover, then for its sheer size. It is a near thousand-page novel geared towards the purest incarnation of nerd energies; the men and women you might engage in conversation about philosophy, geometry, space travel, multiverse theory and quantum physics all in one evening. Neal Stephenson himself has said that this book is more of a work of “speculative fiction” than “science fiction” , but once you have made it halfway through this spellbinding novel I doubt you will be able to classify it at all. The main character is a beer-drinking, star-gazing proto-nerd named Erasmus who lives within the confines of a secular order of monks on a planet named Arbre. Strange astronomical events lead Erasmus’ teacher and mentor to take measures into his own hands for the sake of the planet. This involves using technology, which for reasons I shan’t spoil for you, has been completely outlawed by the government. When you find out why, you will see why Anathem is such an unclassifiable novel. A supremely rewarding read, and personally my favorite book ever.
From Dee Mitchell:
Since Stephenson has written thirteen novels I thought I was going to quickly write up something of three or four more. Not going to happen. Each of his novels merits a long article with many cross-references on Wikipedia. You can access all those from the bibliography on his own Wikipedia entry.