I’m a lover of all things Science Fiction, and after riding high on the real world Cyber-punk Daemon & it’s the sequel Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez (favorite books of 2011), I was looking to, ahem, maintain. An acquaintance recommended Snowcrash, and thus I dove right in. I wish I had read the following Wikipedia entry, which sounds right up my ally and really interesting, only to avoid the situation discussed in this blog:
Snow Crash is Neal Stephenson’s third novel, published in 1992. Like many of Stephenson’s other novels it covers history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics, and philosophy.
Here begins my education of the new rules of book reading in the day and age of eReaders. Before eReaders, my self-imposed book reading rules where just one:
The Golden Rule: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Unfortunately this largely doesn’t apply to eReaders. Long gone are the days of flipping the book to the front and staring at the image, puzzling out its meaning and pondering what I’d just read.
…back to Snowcrash, I read half way through the 3rd paragraph, and then quit promptly after reading this line:
The Deliverator took out his gun, centered its laser doo-hickey on that poised Louisville Slugger, fired it.
I could not fathom why the main character is called the Deliverator, why the word doo-hickey is in a sic-fi book, and how does the old-time phrase Louisville Slugger fit into all this? It’s like the Monty Python of sci-fi books.
In Suarez’s books, I just changed the world. There was excitement, intrigue, really cool sci-fi gear, and all the grandeur and seriousness that goes with the climactic ending of a great book. I put Snowcrash back in the database and bad mouthed it to my husband.
A few months later, he mentioned that several respected techies, such as Leo Laporte started talking about what a great book Snowcrash is. How could this be? Then I heard about it on G4, and Tech News Today on the TWIT network. There was a mini renaissance of the 1992 novel happening all over the tech world. I must have been wrong somehow…
Rule 2: Read the “back”.
This seems like a no brainer, but in the modern age, it’s not always as simple as flipping the book over, you have to type in a search for the synopsis. And when you have friends recommend books, it’s so easy to do a download without first reading the synopsis.
Let’s try again. I read about 17 pages this time and discovered a world of over-Branded, over-Corporatized Los Angeles wasteland in a not too far future, a kick ass teen female lead and a satiracle style of writing in which the main character is called Hiro Protagonist. All right, I get it!
Rule 3: Don’t judge a book until you’ve read 30 pages.
This goes with reading the synopsis or getting many, many recommendations (which is how I went about it). Wouldn’t want to waste my time with 50 Shades of Grey for instance (no matter how many women testify), which is exactly the level I had Snowcrash at before I truly gave it a second chance.
I’m glad I did. I entered the arena of ancient Sumerian cultural intrigue, all new to me. As fascinating to me as the dissection of Christianity. Stephenson applies these ancient cultural themes to the near future, where everyone isolates themselves in their suburban, ethno-cultural tribes connected only by terrifying, concrete highways. General culture has reverted back to an ancient age of super-elites and mindless serfs, in addition to the themes in the wiki quoted above.
In 1992, perhaps the bleak Snowcrash future seemed further away than closer, yet the hyper-advertised, corporate run Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas metros of 2012 are eerily reminiscent. Snowcrash also contains a digital world that parallels the real world in a graphic interface that users customize called the Metaverse. While there is no unifying “place” where the technocratti and pinterest-fans go, the modern day online experience very much parallels our real world and can be in many ways much more intimate, despite its anonymity. We certainly spend a lot of time there!
Rule 4: Cleanse the reading pallet before jumping into a new one.
Be mentally prepared to switch gears. A great novel to practice this is the beautiful and moving “Cloud Atlas“.
It is composed of 6 different books, split apart and arranged to parallel each other and work together as one, much like a composition uses different instruments to create a song. Each narrator and writing style is wildly different. Currently, I am reading book 4 and absolutely love it! The Wachowski’s did too, because a movie of the same name is coming out later this year, directed by them and the director from Run Lola Run. Jump down to the bottom of this blog to view.
Why eReaders rock!
Aside from these silly pitfalls, that most likely only I experience, eReaders are AWESOME! Don’t know a word? Look it up in a second. This comes in especially handy with 19th century literature: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jayne Eyre, etc. Added bonus, the classics are usually free. Curious about a subject, a tree, a place in the book? check it out on the internet in moments! Highlight passages you love, compose thoughts in the “notes” area; never ever lose your bookmark; download books in seconds; get a 30 page preview to make sure you like it; and the list goes on and on.
Since my iPad, I’ve read more than ever before, and sharing books with my hubby and even reading them at the same time is simple. Happy reading!
Cloud Atlas Trailer