Neuromancer or Snow Crash?

I’ve been meaning to read these two books for years and through some scary happenstance, they both came in at the library for me on the same day. I know it probably isn’t a good idea, but I’m reading both of them at the same time. One is very entertaining and I’m zipping right along, the other is more, well, …rigorous. I’ll come back later and say which is which.

So, tell me which one you liked? or hated? and why. Or, what other groundbreaking, incomprehensible, cyberpunk novel you recommend as a follow-up?

The only problem with Snow Crash is that it more “stops” than “ends.” I kind of can’t remember “Neuromancer” aside from the broad outlines, , whereas I can remember distinctive scenes from when I read Snow Crash… 15ish years ago.

Definitely “Snow Crash” – “Neuromancer” is OK (not even that groundbreaking for its time) but boring now. Neal Stephenson is something else entirely.

Neuromancer, definitely. And I dispute that it wasn’t groundbreaking.

Snow Crash was OK, but it was a little too flashy compared to the *noir *of Neuromancer.

ETA - and definitely not boring to me, I still reread it every couple years.

Snowcrash. Neuromancer was a so-so story with a lot of atmosphere but not much else, IMO. Snowcrash had ideas, action, characters I gave a damn about…just…not an ending. (Hello Again is 100% right :slight_smile: )

Neuromancer is the more significant piece of literature and is one of the most important books at establishing the “texture” of Cyberpunk. It’s a good book.

Snow Crash is a far more entertaining book, blending tongue-in-cheek social satire, decent near-future sci-fi, and fascinatingly bizarre characters. It’s not nearly as polished, though, nor as influential.

If I had to pick one to re-read, I’d probably pick Neuromancer – but only because I’ve oly read it once whereas I’ve read Snow Crash a few times. :wink:

Neuromancer was, to me, a much better read. Gibson is just a better prose stylist. A MUCH better prose stylist. Still, I read both with pleasure. Neromancer flowed right along, Snow Crash was a bit of a grind in places.

Neuromancer is a bit dense, and is best remembered for the other works it inspired.

Snow Crash is quite entertaining, but it is one of the most horribly outdated SF books out there. I can’t remember what year it takes place, but sometime around now. One character lived through Vietnam for chrissakes. It was written in 1992, and there is no way that even a fraction of the stuff is even remotely possible.

Okay, I’m not finished either book yet and I’m sure when I get some distance I’ll be glad I read both, but I’m with infinitii, Hello Again and Fenris. Snow Crash is just plain more fun to read. It has a sense of humor, for one thing, the characters are more engaging and though I’m not exactly sure where the plot is going yet, I am more or less able to follow it.

…oh, and thelurkinghorror? Some folks around the Dope are old enough to have lived through Vietnam. Some in this very thread. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

It’s got the Tolkien problem. It set the rules for the genre so that its contents now seem cliche, and it’s not as good as that which has come afterward.

Snow Crash is an experiential book, and as long as you’re happy to be borne along with it, it’s still a great read.

+1 - Gibson writes tone poems - captures a mood or feel, but the actual meat of the ideas within the writing is lacking. His later books reflect this as well - I’ve read more than a few and have only really enjoyed Pattern Recognition…

Stephenson writes like Huxley did - full of provocative ideas, firmly anchored in place and time, but overstuffing the narrative and not working through the prose to render it as well-written from a lit standpoint. It is all about the meat of the ideas…

Neuromancer was my first literary exposure to cyberpunk, and it’s pretty good–but, man, is it a slog. I get what Gibson was trying to do, but the style was very dry, and self-indulgently noir in a way that I found off-putting. And nothing. Effing. HAPPENED. I mean, I know it did, but the whole thing felt incredibly slow. I much preferred Count Zero, actually, as well as the Burning Chrome compilation. Snow Crash, on the other hand, was extremely engaging, though it was (IMHO) more mainstream; while the tech was in it, there were a lot of other things going on. That being said, Neal Stephenson can’t write a damn ending to save his life. Great ideas. . .and then GRIND go the brakes. I don’t think that anything else needed to happen, but I think that they conclusion needed to be paced better. It’s not that I wanted an epilogue; I just wanted to avoid narrative whiplash.

To me, Neuromancer is left-brained, Snow Crash is right-brained. And this is coming from someone who thinks the whole brain hemisphere thing is only slightly less bunk than, say, astrology and phrenology. But you get what I mean. IMHO, Snow Crash is the more satisfying read, but it all comes down to personal taste. Neuromancer established the cyberpunk genre as a mainstream movement, and Snow Crash morphed it to post-cyberpunk (and, IMHO, mainstreamed it even more in the process; the inclusion of the spiritual in his books is compelling, but it’s also a bit of a sop to people who aren’t as into the hard technical elements).

I think that Snow Crash is the better book, but Neuromancer is the more important book. But YMM most definitely V.

Which is what Vonnegut had one of his characters say about Kilgore Trout.

My take as well. Neuromancer and Gibson generally does little for me. Snow Crash and The Diamond Age ( which come to think of it I probably prefer ) are about 5x more entertaining and at the end of the day, that’s what I’m looking for in my fiction.

Can’t argue with this, though.

In fairness it seems to be a common problem with novelists generally. Off the top of my head Tim Powers is another bad offender - often tends to kind of dribble off in the last act. I’d also say that Stephenson has been in bad need of a sterner editor for awhile. But this too seems to be epidemic, at least among novelists with clout.

No shit!? You mean that the crystal in your hand hasn’t turned black?

The point is that the guy was an adult during Vietnam, which means that Snow Crash’s “current time” is not far from today. A world with Burbclaves and VR that is similar to real life would so obviously not be obtainable by 2000, or 2009, or 2015. 1992 is not far enough removed from there that it is obvious that these changes could not occur, even the non-technological ones.

Yeah, and Neuromancer has one of the great–yet totally outdated by technology–opening lines in SF History.

“The sky was the color of a television set tuned to a dead channel”…which means that Neuromancer is using tech set before about 1988–or he’s saying that the sky is a cheery shade of blue. (It’s still a great line, even if it’ll be meaningless in 50 years or so)

The dates don’t matter to me–I don’t blink at characters in '50s books plotting courses through hyperspace with slide-rules. I just think of it as an alternate past.

I liked them both. Yeah, they’re both dated now, but they’re still well written and entertaining IMO. I’d read Gibson first, and read the whole trilogy. He created the genre Stephenson played with and subverted, so you’ll appreciate Stephenson more if you’ve read Gibson. I like Gibson’s 80s tech-noir comic book style, and I think he’s a pretty good writer.

The dating doesn’t bother me. HG Wells is even more dated and he holds up.

Neuromancer was like nothing else at the time. Snow Crash was like a lot of other novels, except much better. They’re both great. If you’re going to read both I would say read Neuromancer first, but if you’re only going to read one make it Snow Crash

I read, and loved, them both when they were published but I’d much rather read Snowcrash again than Neuromancer. In fact, I recently listened to a 6 hour audio version of Snowcrash and enjoyed it a lot; it’s decades, literally, since I’ve reread any Gibson.

As a follow up, I’d recommend Eric Nylund’s 1988 novel, Signal to Noise. Or, as Tamerlane mentions, Stephenson’s follow-up novel, The Diamond Age.

They reflect the different backgrounds of their authors. Gibson was a writer who was trying to sound technical, while Stephenson was a techie who was trying to write.