Thursday, June 12, 2014

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson *****

I reviewed Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 2008. Follow this link A Book for Today: Snow Crash for a character and plot overview, and a nice acronym list.

Some psychologists and brain scientists see many similarities between (human) brains and computers. Analogous to the the mind-body dichotomy is an idea to differentiate between programming a computer in binary machine language and the multitude layer of higher-level abstractions, such as the various programming languages (C++, Python, XML, Java, ...), operating systems (Windows, OS X, Linux, ...), application, user interfaces, ...

At its technological core, Snow Crash is based on the existence of a subconscious way to program brains and computers (in a basic machine language). While this is a wonderful plot device, I doubt it is based in anything more that wild fantasy. None the less, it makes for wonderful reading.

In between the wild adventures of hacker, greatest sword fighter in the world, Hiro and 15-year-old female, skateboarding Kourier Y.T., author Stephenson's fantastic view of the future includes some interludes of sarcastic humor such government regulations for the control and distribution of toilet paper in the office, and several, unfortunately hyper-realistic, descriptions of the management of large software teams.

A classic science-fiction novel of computers, hackers, and virtual reality, still relevant into the 21st century, though much the underlying technology might be only accessible to computer scientists and hardcore gamers. For the touch screen crowd, it still offers a fantastic view of the world behind the their toys.

No comments: