filed in Books on Dec.01, 2006
I just finished the book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Yes, for the first time. It had some interesting ideas; not “they might be true” interesting, but “what if they were true” interesting. The idea that all our major religions are based on stories about exceptionally remarkable people which have evolved into more grandiose tales over millenia of oral tradition is probably not far from the truth. Just looking at something like Iliad it’s obvious how quickly an oral tradition can embelish extraordinary deeds until they’re superhuman. Add to that the modifications stories undergo as they’re filtered through the ever shifting styles and zeitgeist of the people telling them, and the tendency for people to rely on supernatural explanations when natural explanations fail them, and we can almost see the skeleton on which our religious myths have been built.
I also liked the idea of an ancient language which arose from our brain structures. Interesting to think of the consequences that would have on linguistic research, but it doesn’t seem too likely.
The ending of the book was disappointing, since almost nothing was resolved with any of the characters. We don’t even know who lived and who died. It desperately needed an epilogue. I was also rather disappointed with the three or four chapters which consist entirely of Hiro explaining everything that was going on. That part felt like the end of a Scooby Doo episode, right before they say, “Well, that about wraps it up. There’s just one more thing. Let’s see who the monster really is. Why, it’s old man Wilfred!!” Neal Stephenson seems to be a good writer sometimes, but at times he simply fails.