It was the best of dystopias, it was the worst of dystopias. Snow Crash mixes some of my favorite common elements of this sort of cyberpunk romp - sprawling, corporate rule, youth fads, a magic internet, random violence, hero girls - with my least favorites - programmer babble, religious pseudotheory. And it's hard not to just see it as Stephenson's take on William Gibson. I mean, Y.T. might as well be a younger, less modified Molly Millions. The franchise properties, where someone could cross the country by going from parking lot to parking lot, stand in pretty handily for The Sprawl. And so on.
But Neal's got his own ideas, his own take on the whole thing. Granted, he was writing in the 90s and had Gibson to springboard from, but he's enough of an author that I'm not trying to take anything away from him.
So, taking Snow Crash out of that context and on its own, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Except for the hacker blah blah. It's just not my cup of tea. I've never been a gamer, never been a programmer, and could care less about hearing someone talk about fucking around with computers on that level. It just leaves me flat and bored. So, actually, the fact that I dug a novel with so much of that as the main thread does say something positive.
The characters were a good time, even the side guys. The whole thing with the mafia ("You've got a Friend in the Business" - love it) as a legitimate corporation tickled me. It makes sense, of course, that in a situation where money talks and the government has little to no influence, the mob would have the structure and cash flow to be a major power player. In fact, I would love to read more about Uncle Enzo and his crew. Does Stephenson revisit them? And, of course, the Raft. I'd love to read an entire novel set there. Or maybe I have - take out some of the tech elements and you've got The Scar by China Miéville. I wonder how much of an influence this book was on that one.
Now, the religious/cultural parts. Well, hmmm. Sure, it makes sense as written. I'll buy that. It's as good a paperback theory as any I've seen. It didn't exactly knock windows in my skull, but I bet it would have given me plenty to chew on if I'd read it as a younger man.