#TechnicolorRainbow: "Afterwar" and "Snow Crash"

Lilith Saintcrow's Afterwar is a remarkably gritty and satisfying read, but is not for the faint of heart. Although the plot is a revenge-style chase, it's mostly a terrifyingly tantalizing look at what isn't all that far from possible in the United States these days.

It takes place at the tail end of an American civil war with two sides that will be very familiar to anyone who has followed US politics for the last five years. The details of the backstory are never clearly revealed, which works well for the reader with a wild (and vivid) imagination. A group of Raiders are on a mission with a rescued prisoner and, well, I don't want to reveal more.

I enjoyed the dialogue and descriptions quite a bit. There is a lot of dark humour at work here, as well as straight-up horrible things. Maybe it's a bit much at times, but having some military background in my life I found I could connect with it. The first third of the book is a bit confusing to follow with respect to the characters, though. It has a purpose, but be prepared.

Snow Crash is a book I've been told I've had to read for a long time now. I found it to be a great action story and very entertaining, and not something I would take very seriously.

It's an action mystery set in an alternative "now" of the 90s with wonderful world building and just plain fun at every turn. If you're read some of Stephenson's other stuff, you can tell there was more editing at work here. The language is as amusing as ever and while I didn't find the characters to be all that deep, I did care about them. A name like "Hiro Protagonist" for the protagonist kind of tells you all you need to know.

I found the hacker ethic a bit comical and simplistic. That's not a bad thing, mind you, but I would not model my life on what I read here. The crux of the story is rather complicated and it worked for me, despite being utterly impractical. It was a blast to read, though.

-- Geoff (comment@wozniak.ca)