For the last dozen books I’ve read, there have been many pleasant and/or interesting reads, but none were as much fun as this book. There are a lot of reasons: (1) This is well-written, wacky cyberpunk that grabs the bloomers from William Gibson and tears the knees out of them. It’s the scifi masculine version of Emma Bull’s Bone Dance, which came out at just about the same time; (2) Great characters, especially Rat Thing (Fido B-782); (3) This is the first book I’ve read that was written in present tense throughout, and it literally rolls around like an action movie; (4) those action scenes are, uh, perfectly executed, breathless and fun; (5) it is scientifically imaginative and zany; and...
...(6) It demonstrates perfectly that Language + Ideas = Thought. Stephenson made up his own slang and language to convey his world. Words like “franchulate,” “burbclave,” “poons,” and “refus” not only give this world their own flavor, but convey how the world thinks of itself, and are witty nods to 1984 and Clockwork Orange. Moreover, each of these words is also an idea. Franchise + Consulate = Franchulate: in this world, business and government are the same creature. Impressive.
(7) The scenes are almost complete stories in themselves: a few examples are the pizza delivery, a fight in a hops field, the computer-generated Dark Sun metaverse, the Raft, New Hong Kong Consulate, and a glimpse into a world of the Feds that actually makes 1984 seem quite benign. (Did I mention I just started a temp job with the federal government? I found that part particularly chilling.) Some veer up on the curb with ridiculous premise, but all of them feel wild, emotional, and smart. I just thought this was the kind of book that all readers thirst for... except that there is no real ending at all.
The story just stops. But given everything else, it’s forgivable.
Language + Ideas = Thoughts. I am enamored of the concept. It ties into my thoughts about words and ideas creating structure and images as the “ornaments” of the story. Wow. I will have to play with this.