Author: Neal Stephenson
I hadn’t read any book in a long time, specially fiction. These days I spend most of my reading time just trying to catch up with my Time subscription. But I had been wanting to grab something short and fast to read, and when Jay suggested Snow Crash, I decided to go for it. The fact that its by Neal Stephenson (of Cryptonomicon fame) was reassuring.
Its a short book, and while its not half as great as Cryptonomicon, its still pretty good. Again, the “hacker” and “geek” types will associate with the book readily. The book revolves around the hero, the protagonist, whose name happens to be “Hiro Protagonist” :-D How can someone not find that interesting! :-)
Anyways, so yeah, the book is set in a not too far off future, where countries and states as we know them no longer exist (or exist in diminished forms). Its a sort of “back to the future” future, where some things (such as technology) have advanced, but some things (such as social structure) have actually suffered a regression. The premise of the plot is that all human languages share some deep under-currents; that there exists some kind of language that we all understand and which by passes our normal linguistic machinery. Stephenson draws the analogy with programming languages and machine code — which computers understand a wide variety of programming languages, they all speak the same (well, roughly) machine language. All you need is the right compiler. And so, with the right compiler, it would be possible to take any language and translate it to a lower level code that every one would understand.
The best part about reading a book is when you have that “a-ha” moment, when you think you’ve understood exactly what the author was trying to convey. The sense of revelation and joy it brings… its wonderful! Of course, things are always open to interpretation, but I’m fascinated by the ability of a writer to project into the readers mind not just things that he/she does write, but a lot of things that are not written, that are to be interpolated and extra-polated.
A good book — perfect for a flight.