Hiro Protagonist — yeah, that’s his name — is a freelance hacker and unemployed pizza deliveryman lost in a post-lapsarian, hyper-capitalist future America in which the central government has withered away, leaving behind a landscape of gated communities and endless strip malls lined with cookie-cutter retail franchises. When a virulent computer virus (or is it a drug? or a religion?) called Snow Crash gets loose and somehow starts infecting humans, Hiro teams up with a sassy skateboard messenger to save both the real world and cyberspace. Stephenson is that rare—no, unique—thing, both a virtuosic literary stylist and a consummate observer of a brave new world where information flows freely between humans and computers, to the point where the two are no longer easily distinguishable.
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