Mercury Retrograde: Snow Crash

Mercury Retrograde: Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Was on sale via iBooks, Snow Crash.

“Southern California doesn’t know whether to bustle or just strangle itself on the spot.” Chapter 1.

The opening chapter, the first few paragraphs, it promises such a wild ride. I forget how emotionally enticing it is for me, dive right in.

“Copyright © 1992 by Neal Stephenson”

Do some math. Book was originally published before there was “internet” as we now know it. Yes, the protocols were in place, but it wasn’t widespread. Part (Scorpio) satire, I’m sure, but part eerily prescient futures.

Bought it when there was a “Bookstop” bookstore, in the old Austin neighborhood, fact-checked, cf., fredlet for validation.

“It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.”

The future, eerily so.

Always a way with words, turn of a phrase; weird, too, as even though the author’s latter novels all sprawl at 900 pages, or greater.

“There’s a good-sized shantytown of hardcore Third World unemployables, plus a scattering of schizophrenic first worlders who have long ago burned their brains to ash in the radiant heat of their own imaginings.”

Then, there’s a forever favorite character, who can’t agree that we all know a person or two like this?

“The tattoo on his forehead consists of three words, written in block letters: POOR IMPULSE CONTROL.”

Yeah, the Raven with that tattoo on the forehead, indelible ink, think, “Poor impulse control.”

“He is full of adrenaline, his nerves are shot, and his mind is cluttered up with free-floating anxiety—floating around on an ocean of generalized terror.”

Paints a very specific picture in general terms, and one that sounds familiar. I might have to steal that material, or use something similar — planets, and eclipses, and so forth.

Half the way through, again, I was wondering if there is a cautionary tale about the internet as we know it. Remember, 1992, there wasn’t much wired — then. Nascent web pages were simple textual constructs. Faxes were cool because they could be used to transmit images.

Helped promulgate the cult of the goddess, as I reread it, “My Goddess gave birth to your God,” as the bumper sticker said.

Mercury Retrograde: Snow Crash

Rereading a text like this, new in digital form for me, but not a new story, it’s easy to see the author’s roots, then the way he will branch out in the future. There’s almost an insane amount of research and trivia that is buried, with information from various beliefs, ranging from Persia to current United States, plus points in between. Understanding of science, also a part of this, but the original text was almost before the web provided such a wealth of information and ultimate answers to trivial questions.

What does make the novel still valid? Understanding the difference and then, similarities between the imagined world and where we live now? Makes the intersection of high-tech, software worlds and the real world with information as a product, makes for more than a few valid points.

When Mercury is Retrograde, one of my favorite “best use of time” exercises is to paw through and reread old texts.

“She’s a woman, you’re a dude. You’re not supposed to understand her. That’s not what she’s after.”

Rushing towards the climax of the tale, bits of wisdom. Human nature never changes?

It does have a spectacular crescendo of an ending, but leaves many different branches that could be consumed for further research. Reading it that first time was so electric.

Mercury Retrograde: Snow Crash

Snow Crash

Snow Crash

Previously

Five books.

Six books.


The Portable Mercury Retrograde

Portable Mercury Retrograde – Kramer Wetzel

Portable Mercury Retrograde: astrofish.net’s Mercury in Retrograde

Portable Mercury Retrograde

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.4
  • Camera: iPad Pro
  • Focal length: 3.3mm
  • ISO: 80
  • Location: 30° 17′ 52.45″ N 97° 43′ 2.31″ W
  • Shutter speed: 1/30s

Kramer Wetzel

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