Well, I just finished Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. The book takes its title from an interesting event, when a glitch / bug / virus causes a machines output to crash and the effect is gibberish binary, much like that when a t.v. is tuned to a station that is not receiving reception (i.e. looks like snow). This novel was interesting in that it seemed to mix a lot of different ideas into one fairly cohesive story. There was a good amount of Sumerian mythology, a sort of post-capitalism steam-punk noir setting, a virtual reality internet style setting, computer hacking, sword fighting, hi-tech weapons, skateboarding and pizzas. All of this came together to tell a pretty interesting yarn about viruses and how the brain works and what it might be like to have an aural virus affect us much like a computer virus effects a beige box. All the while there is also a computer virus wreaking havoc as well. Throughout the story there is also a pretty interesting treatise on religion and its’ effect on the world. I’d have to say that the ending was only so-so, although I suppose it was pretty fitting. There were a lot of open ends to say the least.
I’d have to say that the part of the book I enjoyed the most was the description of the direction that society went, with everything becoming privatized, and soon all neighborhoods becoming little corporate countries. Stephenson’s has the distinct ability to paint a dark picture of the future world that seems believable (to a point).
If you are looking for a steam-punk novel to break into the genre with, I would recommend this over neuromancer (even though that is more of a classic, this is a better read with more likeable characters).