Origin of a Book

Sometimes you see a book on the shelf and decide to pick it up.  Sometimes someone else sees it and thinks of you.  And sometimes there is no logic whatsoever.

Chicago area Mensa has a massive collection of games that you know, games that you love (or don’t) and games that you have never heard of in your life.  They also host an annual gaming weekend that you don’t need to be a member to attend.  And when my friend and I go, we try to play at least one totally random game out of Mensa’s collection.

Last year we found the game Liebrary.  It’s simple – you have a card with a book on it.  The person whose turn it is will copy down the first line.  Everyone else will write down what they think the first line of the book could be.  Then, like Dixit, everyone whose turn it isn’t will try to guess the correct first line.  If everyone gets it right, they get points and the turn-taker gets nothing.  Any wrong guesses give points to the person who wrote the line.  Etc.

It was my turn, and I copied down “The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory.”  Between that line, and the book synopsis, I was intrigued by this book I had never heard of, Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.  Once the turn was resolved, one of my friends remarked that he had a copy and would lend it to me if I wanted.  I agreed.  This was back in January, and I promised to return it to him at the convention in November – the next con was in February but I had a number of other things I was working through at the time.

So that’s how I first heard about Snow Crash.  Later I learned that it had a great deal in common with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  (I’d say they have two similar elements.  It’s not at all the same or even that comparable.)  I won’t say that I put it off, but rather that I just didn’t feel the time was right.  This isn’t computer warfare in the sense that we know it today, given that this book was written in the early nineties…but so much of it is not that far off at all.  It’s close enough to give you shivers as you compare it to the real world.

I found Snow Crash to be a well-paced thriller, but for me it reads like a Dan Brown book.  There’s a lot of religious undertones that I don’t care enough to read into, there’s the mystery that our protagonist – Hiro Protagonist – just happens to have the right skills and experience to unravel, including getting into some insanely dangerous situations.  Everything made sense within the world Stephenson created, but as I’m starting to sit back and reflect, I think it’s pushing hard at my suspension of disbelief.

Also there’s a line on page 460, where it says “obtains” and I’m pretty sure it should say “pertains”.  Having a grammatical error during the denoument is more jarring than running into it almost anywhere else in the book.

No, I don’t usually take note of exactly what pages errors are on.  But there’s 468 pages of story, and that’s close enough that I could easily flip back and find the stupid thing.

I guess I’m glad I read the book.  It was definitely very interesting even though the religion/virus thing got a bit esoterical and I had to pay more attention to figure out what they were actually talking about.  I don’t think I’ll need to read it again though, just like I’ve never gone back and reread anything Dan Brown.  Admittedly, I only read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons and refuse to read anything else since the aforementioned titles are essentially the exact same book.  The same reason why I stopped buying new Brian Jacques books.  The same reason I was really disappointed in The Lord of the Isles series my dad highly recommended.  If you’re going to write the same story over and over again, the least you can do is give me new and different things to focus on so that I don’t notice or care when you reuse elements.

Whoops, that was a minirant.  Back to Snow Crash.  Though there’s not really much else to say, is there?  I’d say that the privatization seen here is terrifying in light of what’s going on in the world today.  Private ambulance services complaining that they’re not making enough money?  What a surprise.  And let’s not even talk about health insurance.  If Stephenson’s book is a real window into the future, that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Tomorrow starts a new book.  This is one that I found on the shelf in a used bookstore where they sell books by the pound.  So my two mass market paperbacks cost me $3.43.  And I never heard of either of them before, so we’ll see if I like this more or less than Snow Crash.  Or if it’s just the same level of “meh?”

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