Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/virtualw/public_html/Resources/Hosted/Resource.php on line 9
Book Quotes Index: SnowCrash
Not a member yet? Register for full benefits!

Username
Password
Book Quotes Index: SnowCrash

By Neal Stephenson
Produced By Bantam Spectra

Snowcrash has attracted a cult following in the VR industries. Perhaps because much of this book embodies what the virtual really means, to so many people. It is of course far from the only one do do so, but it was the first, and does so, so well.

Our Full Review

 

Page: 21

Predicting Eye-Toy
The top surface of the computer is smooth except for a fisheye lens, a polished glass dome with a purplish optical coating. Whenever Hiro is using the machine, this lens emerges and clicks into place, its base flush with the surface of the computer. ? The lens can see half the universe ? the half that is above the computer, which includes most of Hiro. In this way, it can generally keep track of where Hiro is and what direction he?s looking in.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 22

Digital display, right into the eyeball - no screens
Down inside the computer are three lasers ? a red one, a green one, and a blue one. They are powerful enough to make a bright light, but not powerful enough to burn through the back of eyeball and broil your brain, fry your frontals, lase your lobes. As everyone learned in elementary school, these three colours of light can be combined, with different intensities, to produce any colour that Hiro?s eye is capable of seeing.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 22

Individualised displays
By drawing a slightly different image in front of each eye, the image can be made three-dimensional. By changing the image seventy-two times a second, it can be made to move. By drawing the moving, three dimensional image at a resolution of 2k pixels on a side, it can be as sharp as the eye can perceive, and by pumping stereo digital surround through the headphones, the moving 3-D pictures can have a perfectly realistic soundtrack.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 23

A Standard World
The dimensions of the Street are fixed by a protocol, hammered out by the computer-graphics ninja overlords of the Association for Computing Machinery?s Global Multimedia Protocol Group. The Street seems to be a grand boulevard going all the way around the equator of a black sphere with a radius of a bit more than ten thousand kilometres. That makes it 65535 kilometres around, which is bigger than the Earth.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 23

User-Created Content sprawls off
Like any place in Reality, the Street is subject to development. Developers can build their own small streets feeding off the main one. They can build buildings, parks, signs, as well as things that do not exist in Reality, such as vast hovering overhead lightshows, special neighbourhoods where the rules of three-dimensional spacetime are ignored, and free-combat zones where people can go to hunt and kill each other.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 24

The metaverse of Snowcrash. Tron-esque
The sky and the ground are black, like a computer screen that hasn?t had anything drawn on it yet; it is always nighttime in the Metaverse, and the street is always garish and brilliant; like Las Vegas freed from constraints of physics and finance. But people in Hiro?s neighbourhood are good programmers, so its very tasteful. There are a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions and some fancy Victoriana.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 25

Even in VR, public Transit is Essential
It is a hundred metres wide, with a narrow monorail track running down the middle. The monorail is a free piece of public utility software that enables users to change their location on the street rapidly and smoothly. A lot of people just ride back and forth on it, looking at the sights. When Hiro first saw this place, ten years ago, the monorail hadn?t been written yet; he and his buddies had to write car and motorcycle software in order to get around. They would take their software out and race it on the black desert of the electronic night.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 33

Descrete Entrances help preserve Believability
As Hiro approaches the Street, he sees two young couples, probably using their parent?s computers for a double date in the Metaverse, climbing down out of Port Zero, which is the local port of entry and monorail stop.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 34

The Wonder of a Virtual Form
Your avatar can look any way you want it to, up to the limitations of your equipment. If you?re ugly, you can make your avatar beautiful. If you?ve just gotten out of bed, your avatar can be wearing beautiful clothes and professionally applied makeup. You can look like a gorilla or a dragon, or a giant talking penis in the Metaverse. Spend five minutes walking down the street, and you will see all of these.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 34

The Devil is in the Details
Most hacker types don?t go in for garish avatars, because they know it takes a lot more sophistication to render a realistic human face than a talking penis.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 34

Social Etiquette of Changing Realities
You can?t just materialise anywhere in the Metaverse, like Captain Kirk beaming down from on high. This would be confusing and irritating to the people around you. It would break the metaphor. Materialising out of nowhere (or vanishing back to Reality) is considered to be a private function best done in the confines of your own House.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 35

COS Virtual Bodies
The couples coming off the monorail can?t afford to have custom avatars made and don?t know how to write their own. They have to buy off-the-shelf avatars. One of the girls has a pretty nice one. It would be considered quite the fashion statement among the K-Tel set. Looks like she has bought the Avatar Construction Set ? and put together her own, customised model out of miscellaneous parts. It might even look something like it?s owner. The date doesn?t look bad himself. The other girl is a Brandy. Her date is a Clint. Brandy and Clint are both popular, off-the-shelf models. When white-trash high school girls are going on a date in the Metaverse, they invariably run down to the computer-games section of the local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of Brandy. The user can select three breast sizes: improbable, impossible, and ludicrous. Brandy has a limited repertoire of facial expressions: cute and pouty; cute and sultry; perky and interested; smiling and receptive; cute and spacy. Her eyelashes are half an inch long and the software is so cheap that they are rendered as solid ebony chips. When a brandy flutters her eyelashes, you can almost feel the breeze.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 35

Advertiser's Dream
The moment Hiro steps across the line separating his neighbourhood from the Street, coloured shapes begin to swoop down on him from all directions, like buzzards on fresh road kill. Animercials are not allowed in Hiro?s neighbourhood, but almost anything is allowed on the street.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 36

Intrusive Advetising
A passing fighter-plane bursts into flames, falls from its trajectory, and zooms directly toward him at twice the speed of sound. It ploughs into the Street fifty feet in front of him, disintegrates, and explodes, blooming into a tangled cloud of wreckage and flame, that skids across the pavement toward him, growing to envelop him so all he can see is turbulent flame, perfectly simulated and rendered.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 37

Invisible, impenetrable barriers
He cuts straight across the Street and under the monorail line, headed for a large, low-slung, black building. It is extraordinarily somber for the Street, like a parcel that someone forgot to develop. It?s a squat black pyramid with the top cut off. It has one single door ? since this is all imaginary, there are no regulations dictating the number of emergency exits. There are no guards, no signs, nothing to bar people from going in, yet thousands of avatars mill around, peering inside, looking for a glimpse of something. These people can?t pass through the door because they haven?t been invited. Above the door is a matte black hemisphere about a meter in diameter, set into the front wall of the building. It is the closest thing the place has to decoration. Underneath it, in letters carved into the wall?s black substance, is the name of the place: THE BLACK SUN.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 37

Preserving Computer Power: Smoke and Mirrors
If these avatars were real people on a real street, Hiro wouldn?t be able to reach the entrance. It?s way too crowded. But the computer system that operates the Street has better things to do than to monitor every single one of the millions of people there, trying to prevent them from running into each other. It doesn?t bother trying to solve this incredibly difficult problem. On the street, avatars just walk through each other. So when Hiro cuts through the crowd, headed for the entrance, he really is cutting through the crowd. When things get this jammed together, the computer simplifies things by drawing all the avatars ghostly and translucent so you can see where you?re going. Hiro appears solid to himself, but everyone else looks like a ghost. He walks through the crowd as if it?s a fogbank, clearly seeing the Black Sun in front of him.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 38

Avatar the size of You
There?s one black-and-white who stands out because he?s taller than the rest. The Street protocol states that your avatar can?t be any taller than you are. This is to prevent people from walking around a mile high.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 39

A Snow crash
But ?Snow Crash? is comptuer lingo. It means a system crash ? a bug ? at such a fundamental level that it frags the part of the computer that controls the electron beam in the monitor, making it spray wildly across the screen, turning the perfect gridwork of pixels into a gyrating blizzard.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 40

3D Iconic File Manipulation
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a hypercard. It looks like a business card. The hypercard is an avatar of sorts. It is used in the Metaverse to represent a chunk of data. It might be text, audio, video, a still image, or any other information which can be represented digitally.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 50

Avatar Class
It doesn?t pay to have a nice avatar on the Street, where its so crowded and all the avatars merge and flow into one another. But the Black Sun is a much classier piece of software. In the Black Sun, avatars are not allowed to collide. Only so many people can be here at once, and they can?t walk through each other. Everything is solid, and opaque and realistic.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 51

Bots and AI Constructs
It?s a robot that lives in the Metaverse. A piece of software, a kind of spirit that inhabits the machine, usually with some particular role to carry out. The Black Sun has a number of daemons that serve imaginary drinks to patrons and run little errands for people.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 51

Humorous Eject
It even has bouncer daemons that get rid of undesirables ? grab their avatars and throw them out the door, applying certain basic principles of avatar physics. Da5id has even enhanced the physics The Black Sun to make it a little cartoonish, so that particularly obnoxious people can be hit over the head with giant mallets or crushed under plummeting safes before they are ejected.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 82

Virtual Swordfight and Avatar Deformation
Hiro parries the attack, turns around, and cuts both of his legs off, just above the knees. The businessman collapses to the floor. It takes a lot of practice to make your avatar move through the Metaverse like a real person. When your avatar has just lost it?s legs, all that skill goes out the window.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 95

Dead Avatar
The Nipponese businessman lies cut in segments on The Black Sun?s floor. Surprisingly (he looks so real when he?s in one piece) no flesh, blood or organs are visible through the new cross-sections That Hiro?s blade made through his body. He is nothing but a thin shell of epidermis, an incredibly complex inflatable doll. But the air does not rust out of him, he fails to collapse, and you can look into the aperture of a sword cut, and see, instead of bones and meat, the back of the skin on the other side. It breaks the metaphor. The avatar is not acting like a real body. It reminds all The Black Sun?s patrons that they are living in a fantasy world. People hate to be reminded of this.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 99

3D Hone; Locally
But there?s no problem with going into his office; because that?s generated within the guts of his computer, which is sitting on his lap; he doesn?t need any communication with the outside world for that. He materializes in his office, in his nice little house, in the old hacker neighbourhood just off the street.It is all quite Nipponese: tatami mats cover the floor. His desk is a great, ruddy slab of rough-sawn mahogany. Silvery cloud-light filters through rice-paper walls. A panel in front of him slides open to reveal a garden. Complete with babbling brook and steelhead trout jumping out from time to time to catch flies.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 114

Electropigments and Fabric Displays
So every few dozen feet there?s a large man with an erect posture wearing an acid green windbreaker with ENFORCER spelled out across the back. Very conspicuous, which is how they like it. But it?s all done with electropigment, so if there?s trouble, these guys can turn themselves black with a flick of a switch.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 115

Cyborg Augments
Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies , broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider: these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class which is at once above and far below human society. They are a boon to Hiro because they embody the worst stereotype of the CIC stringer. They dray all the attention. The payoff for this self-imposed ostracism is you can be in the Metaverse all the time, and gather data all the time.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 177

Damaging Imagery
He closes his eyes and drops his goggles. You can?t get hurt by looking at a bitmap. Or can you?
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 186

Programming the Brain, Directly
?The Brandy?s scroll wasn?t just showing random static. It was flashing up a large amount of digital information, in binary form. That digital information was going straight into Da5id?soptic nerve. Which is part of the brain, incidentally ? if you stare into a person?s pupil, you can see the terminal of the brain.?
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 199

Messy 3D Room
The room is filled with a three dimensional constellation of hypercards, hanging weightlessly in the air. It looks like a high-speed photograph of a blizzard in progress. In some places the hypercards are placed in geometric patterns, like atoms in a crystal. In other places whole stacks of them are piled together. Drifts of them have accumulated in the corners as though Lagos tossedthem away when he was finished. Hiro finds that his avatar can walk through the hypercards without disturbing the arrangement. It is, in fact, the three dimensional equivalent of a messy desktop.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 207

Can You get a Massage from a Picture?
And apparently, this Ng character gets a kick out of the idea of a Japanese geisha around to rub his back. But it is a very strange thing to do for one reason: The geisha is just a picture on Ng?s goggles, and on Y.T.?s, and you can?t get a massage from a picture. So why bother?
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 210

Total Immersion/Life Support
Where the driver?s seat ought to be, there is a neoprene pouch about the size of a garbage can suspended from the ceiling by a web of straps, shock cords, tubes, wires, fibre-optic cables, and hydraulic lines. It is swathed in so much stuff that it is hard to make out its actual outlines. At the top of the pouch, Y.T. can see a patch of skin with some black hair around it ? the top of a balding man?s head. Everything else, from the temples downward, is encased in an enormous goggle/mask/headphone/feeding-tube unit, held onto his head by smart straps that are constantly tightening and loosening themselves to keep the device comfortable and properly proportioned.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 211

Motorised Wheelchair With Attitude
I tried prosthesis for a while ? some of them are very good. But nothing is as good as a motorized wheelchair. And then I got to thinking,why do motorized wheelchairs have to be tiny, pathetic things that strain to go up a little teeny ramp? So I bought this ? it is an airport firetruck from Germany ? and converted it into my new motorised wheelchair.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 231

VR for Dog Minds
?That?s cruel,? she says. ?This brand of sentimentalism is very predictable,? Ng says. ?To take a dog out of his body ? keep him in a hutch all the time.? ?When the Rat Thing, as you call it, is in his hutch, what do you think he?s doing?? ?Licking his electronic nuts?? ?Chasing Frisbees through the surf. Forever. Eating steaks that grow on trees. Lying beside the fire in a hunting lodge. I haven?t installed any testicle-licking simulations yet, but now that you have brought it up, I shall consider it.?
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 259

Language as the base for an Ordered Mind
?Laos modified the strict Chomskyan theory by supposing that learning a language is like blowing code into PROMs ? an analogy that I cannot interpret.? "The analogy is clear. PROMs are Programmable Read-Only Memory chips,? Hiro says. ?When they come from the factory, they have no content. Once and only once, you can place information into those chips and then freeze it ? the information, the software, becomes frozen into the chip ? it transmutes into hardware. After you have blown the code into the PROMs, you can read it out, but you can?t write to them any more. So Laos was trying to say that the newborn human brain has no structure ? as the relativists would have it ? and that aas the child learns a language, the developing brain structures itself accordingly, the language gets ?blown into? the hardware and becomes a permanent part of the brain?s deep structure ? as the universalists would have it.?
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 328

Guns in Paradise
He knows one thing: The Metaverse has now become a place where you can get killed. Or at least have your brain reamed out to the point where you might as well be dead. This is a radical change in the nature of the place. Guns have come to paradise. It serves them right, he realises now. They made the place too vulnerable. They figured that the worst thing that could happen was that a virus might get transferred into your computer and force you to ungoggle and reboot your system. Maybe destroy a little data if you were stupid enough not to destroy any medicine.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 328

Lego-style Programming
It?s possible to program a computer now by sitting at your desk in the Metaverse and manually connecting little preprogrammed units, like Tinkertoys. But a real hacker would never use such techniques, any more than a master auto mechanic would try to fix a car by sliding behind the steering wheel and watching the idiot lights on the dashboard.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 329

Writing Anti-virals for Mind Viruses
Once the virus has been extracted and isolated, it is easy enough for Hiro to write a new program called SnowScan. SnowScan is a piece of medicine. That is, it is code that protects Hiro?s system ? both his hardware and, as Laos would put it ? his bioware from the Snow Crash virus.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 330

Custom Avatars
Almost anyone can write an avatar
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 330

Custom Avatar and Quality Standards
Almost anyone can write an avatar that doesn?t look like anything, but it will lead to a lot of problems when it is used. Some Metaverse real estate ? including The Black Sun ? will want to know how big your avatar is so that it can figure out whether you are colliding with another avatar or some obstacle. If you give it an answer of zero, you will either crash that piece of real-estate or else make it think that something is wery wrong. You will be invisible, but everywhere you go in the Metaverse you will leave a swath of destruction and confusion a mile wide. In other places, invisible avatars are illegal. If your avatar is transparent and reflects no light whatsoever ? the easiest kind to write ? it will be recognised instantly as an illegal avatar and alarms will go off. It has to be written in such a way that other people can?t see it but the real estate software doesn?t realise that it?s invisible.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 330

Collision Detection
On the Street, you can pass through other people?s avatars. But you can?t pass through walls. You can?t enter private property. And you can?t pass through other vehicles, or through permanent Street fixtures such as the Ports or the stanchions that support the monorail line. If you try to collide with any of these things, you don?t die or get kicked out of the Metaverse; you just come to a complete stop, like a cartoon character running spang into a concrete wall. In other words, once the Metaverse began to fill up with obstacles that you could run into, the job of travelling across it at high speed suddenly became more interesting. Maneuverability became an issue. Size became an issue. Hiro and Da5id and the rest of them began to switch away from the enormous, bizarre vehicles they had favored at first ? Victorian houses on tank treads, rolling ocean liners, mile-wide crystalline spheres, flaming chariots drawn by dragons ? in favor of small maneuverable vehicles. Motorcycles, basically.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 331

No need to Obey the Laws of Physics
A Metaverse vehicle can be as fast and nimble as a quark. There?s no physics to worry about, no constraints on acceleration, no air resistance. Tyres never squeal, and brakes never lock up. The one thing that can?t be helped is the reaction time of the user. So when they were racing their latest motorcycle software, holding wild rallies through Downtown at Mach 1, they didn?t worry about engine capacity. They worried about user interface, the controls that enabled the rider to transfer his reactions into the machine, to steer, to accelerate, or brake as quickly as he could think. Because when you?re in a pack of bike racers going through a crowded area at that speed, and you run into something and slow down to a speed of exactly zero, you can forget about catching up. One mistake and you?ve lost.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 331

The Offline 3D World
He opens up the most recent version of his motorcycle software, gets familiar with the controls again. He ascends from Flatland into the three-dimensional Metaverse and practices riding his bike around his yard for a while. Beyond the boundaries of his yard is nothing but blackness, because he?s not jacked into the net. It is a lost, desolate sensation, kind of like floating on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 366

Staff Custom-matched to Customer
Ng Security Industries has a whole floor of a mile-high neon skyscraper near Port One, right in the middle of Downtown. Like everything else in the Metaverse, it?s open twenty-four hours, because it?s always business hours somewhere in the world. Hiro leaves his bike on the Street, takes the elevator up to the 397th floor, and comes face to face with a receptionist daemon. For a moment, he can?t peg her racial background; then he realizes that this daemon is half-black, half-Asian ? just like him. If a white man had stepped off the elevator, she probably would have been a blonde. A Nipponese businessman would have come face to face with a perky Nipponese girl.
See full quote plus our analysis.

Page: 368

Fund Transfer by Business Card
?In that case, you are in possession of some very valuable intel,? Uncle Enzo says. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a hypercard and hands it toward Hiro. It says:

TWENTY-FIVE MILLION HONG KONG DOLLARS

Hiro reaches out and takes the card. Somewhere on earth, two computers swap bursts of electronic noise and the money gets transferred from the Mafi?s account to Hiro?s.
See full quote plus our analysis.
Staff Comments

 


.
Untitled Document .