February 22, 20233 min read

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Neal Stephenson paints a world where pizza delivery taxi’s have the backing of the Mafia, ensuring that they are delivered exactly within 30 minutes. Cars clutter together while Kouriers - similar to couriers but on high tech skates - zoom past the neon corporate signs, and various suburbs that have themselves become separate sovereign franchulates (franchise consulates). It’s a world where it’s okay if life is a shithole because there’s always the Metaverse.

Hiro Protaganist is one of the original programmers of the Metaverse and knows many of the in’s and out’s of the software, and even wrote the code underpinning swordfights - of which he proclaims he is the best in the world.

We follow a story where history, religion, philosophy and technology intertwine as we uncover a virus - both physical and technological. It’s a race against time to stop it from unleashing on the world, both reality and in the Metaverse.

I really enjoyed this novel, however it took a little getting used to its custom language and phrases. After that initial bump, it was a riveting read.

“It won’t pay rent, but that’s okay—when you live in a shithole, there’s always the Metaverse, and in the Metaverse, Hiro Protaganist is a warrior prince.”

“He’s not exactly thinking about this; he’s letting it ricochet around in his skull, waiting for it to come to rest.”

“As Hiro crests the pass on his motorcycle at five in the morning, the town of Port Sherman, Oregon, is suddenly laid out before him: a flash of yellow loglo wrapped into a vast U-shaped valley that was ground out of the rock, a long time ago, by a big tongue of ice in an epochal period of geological cunnilingus.”

“See, the world is full of things more powerful than us. But if you know how to catch a ride, you can go places,”

“Ninety-nine percent of everything that goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire one hundred percent is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people’s minds.”

“We are all susceptible to the pull of viral ideas. Like mass hysteria. Or a tune that gets into your head that you keep humming all day until you spread it to someone else. Jokes. Urban legends. Crackpot religions. Marxism. No matter how smart we get, there is always this deep irrational part that makes us potential hosts for self-replicating information.”

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Apurva Shukla

Created by Apurva Shukla.

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