Take this, Shamus!
You may recall, if you’re one of my three regular readers, what I had to say about Cryptonomicon. In fact, if you’re one of my three regular readers, you’ve already responded to it, either internally or on your own site. Mark bit first, and now Shamus has had a crack at it.
It’s nice to see that not everyone thinks that Cryptonomicon is the greatest book ever, but I never set out to dispel that; what I particularly like about this is that everything I stated is actually in the text proper – and liking it is simply a matter of interpretation. What makes it the best ever to some people makes it unfathomable for others. It’s an interesting examination of opinion, because it ultimately proves that one man’s novel full of digressions is another man’s novel full of digressions – but that Man A might be allergic to that while Man B bathes in it, and Woman C thinks “Dangit, Snow Crash was so compact, what went wrong?”
Which brings me to my next point (wait, I’m making points here?). Twenty Sided Reader dishuiguanyin states the following:
Even Snow Crash, while it has a wonderful racy plot, great ideas, and ancient near-Eastern mythology … also contains terrible dialogue and huge great infodumps from the librarian. So, yeah, tis a pity, but still hugely enjoyable.
The Librarian is great because the internet is reduced to goggles, and Hiro Protagonist can be doing whatever – speeding through the vast blackness of cyberspace, because they didn’t bother putting addresses on those bastards; fighting Raven; raving with avatars that all look alike – and he can still be being fed exposition! Snow Crash is awesome not because it’s got equal opportunity rapist pirates in it, but because it’s the literary equivalent of this comic:
Sometimes all we require in life is goggles and fishnets, rather than eight page treatises on stockings and furniture. Goggles and fishnets delivered at HYPER SPEED while BYPASSING THE COMMON MAN to fight an ALEUT (like you’ve ever heard of them) with MAXIMUM HARDCORENESS. EXTREME!
Perhaps Snow Crash differs from Cryptonomicon in that it’s not afraid to be silly, whereas Cryptonomicon equates graphs with silliness. I think it hinges on Stephenson’s use of “badass”. You can see it in Snow Crash and say “fuck yeah!”, but you get a rather different, more selfconscious vibe from the later work.
Finally, as to XKCD:
I think that says it all! Wait, it doesn’t. I just thought it was funny if you know the original strip.