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Headscratchers: Snow Crash
  • Why do so many people on the internet describe Y.T. as a "valley girl?" Throughout the book, she shows little to no interest in fashion, make-up, or shopping, and she spends most of her time skating in the dirty streets and raving at rock concerts. Yes, she does say "like" and "totally" a lot; but that's part of her skateboarder-punk slang.(She says "dude" and "yo" about as much as the first two words). Y.T. is plenty feminine. But a valley girl?
    • "Y.T. is not fond of boxes. Y.T. establishes her space on the pavement by zaggine mightily from lane to lane, establishing a precedent of scary randomness...makes them react to her, instead of the other way around." This sounds more like the description of a teen who would, if anything, be at odds with the "valley-girl" types.
    • Not only is there no mention of Y.T. having interest in make-up and fashion, but she often expresses bafflement when she sees other women or girls done up with excessive make up or "pointless femininity." Does "valley girl" now mean "any teenaged girl with an attitude," or did the people who call her this not even read the book?
    • I could be wrong, but I believe she actually lives in the Valley, such as it is. Perhaps people are thinking of this and getting weirdly confused about the various stereotypes that she does embody.

  • So Raven can't be killed, or his nuke will detonate and destroy everything. But he can still be defeated, as long as they don't kill him. Fine. But what happens later when Raven dies of old age? Will he lose his connection to the nuke after a certain period of time? Does someone know how to turn the device off?
    • I don't think Raven really cares to thinks that far ahead. Even if he does care enough to take precautions to avoid nuking his deathbed, I doubt he'd tell anyone how to disarm the device until he's on his deathbead for fear they might betray him or get tortured for the info. With a little luck, they'll either find a deep enough hole (or strong enough rocket) to get rid of the nuke before that happens.
      • That makes sense. But, the question was not what Raven planned to happen; the question is, what did happen? Since The Diamond Age is implied to take place in the same world as Snow Crash, then it seems that Raven's nuke never did wind up detonating. And Raven is probably not still alive, by then. So, how was the nuke turned off?
      • Option A: He faces a Bolivian Army Ending where he's captured alive and kept unable to activate the bomb. Eventually he either negotiates a way out by voluntarily disarming it, or someone like uncle Enzo finds a good enough bomb-squad and/or nuclear technician and/or deep enough hole to get rid of the bomb. Raven is then auctioned off among the people he's pissed off to recoup the losses. What happens to the he bomb is anyone's guess. It may have been used in a way damage was minimal to the world at large, or permanently disabled, or is now someone else's insurance. Pray he doesn't choke on a chicken bone.
      • Option B: He manages to escape, avoid capture, and live out his life on the run or in hiding. Eventually he ditches the bomb since it's a dead giveaway to his identity and settles down for real. The bomb is probably rusting in a junkyard somewhere.
      • Option C: Raven is killed, or suffers an honest to god accident, and the bomb goes off. With the state of the Snowcrash world, a nuke going off anywhere won't be too disastrous unless it were in one of the few functioning countries or an agricultural breadbasket.
      • Option D: Nuclear weapons degrade over time, as their subcritical nuclear masses decay into more stable isotopes. Raven has a Soviet nuclear missile, which means it was built in 1990 at the latest. By the time he dies in, let us say, 2015, his nuke may be a dud. (Of course, the explosion of the priming charge would scatter radioactive material all over the place.... but that would just mean another Sacrifice Zone in a world full of them.)
      • Option E: Raven never did intend to arm the nuke, he just hooked up enough electronics to it so that anyone who might want to kill him would think he had.
      • Option F: He can deactivate the Dead Man Switch at will, as we hear nothing of a nuclear explosion when he takes it off to kayak to The Raft. If he did take it off while activated, he would be at the center of the blast, so it is safe to say it has an off switch.
    • Well, unless Word of God said otherwise, it was pretty much implied that Uncle Enzio killed Raven (the last we saw of both of them was Raven disarmed and Enzio coming at him with a straight razor). This was at the end of a series of events which involved him having to remove the nuke (since he had to kayak to The Raft, and the warhead would have been too heavy). So, presumably, the nuke was left either unattended, or with the Orthos.
      • The book did not imply that Enzo killed Raven. It implied that Raven got away when it said that a the pizza delivery vehicle the Raven stole was seen driving away from the airport. Mentioning the vehicle escaping would be rather superfluous if it wasn't Raven escaping.

  • What became of Juanita's teenage pregnancy? When Juanita wanted to study human facial expressions for her work in the Metaverse, she told Hiro a story about how she became pregnant as a teenager (so she could examine his face as he reacted to her story). This pregnancy is never mentioned again. There is no mention of her having a child while she and Hiro were in college, or when she married Da5id, or now durring the present. Hiro knew Juanita well, so if she was raising a child, he'd know about it, and would not have been surprised by her story. So, it seems her pregnancy did not result in her becoming a mother. What happened then? Did she put the kid up for adoption? Did she have a miscarriage? An abortion (doubtful, given her religion)? Was the story just a lie that she told Hiro, in order to see his reaction?
    • The book never said she had gotten pregnant, just that she'd missed her period and was freaking out over the possibility of being pregnant. It apparently is completely possible to miss a period and not be pregnant, due to things like stress or health issues.
      • Also, the scene is set in such a way that it's clear that she just wanted to study Hiro's facial expressions while giving him a clear example of faces communicating large amounts of information. She's not telling him about it as a socially life-changing experience, which a pregnancy would have been, but as an intellectual life-changing experience.
    • She seemed somewhat estranged from the religion, and (at least to this troper) gave off a slight air of guilt. It appears to hint at abortion.
      • Not likely. Judging by his other books, it seems Neal Stephenson is pretty pro-life (in both "The Diamond Age" and "The Big U," there is a moment where the protagonists basically state that they think abortion is an unthinkable option). If Juanita had had an abortion, Stephenson would no doubt have addressed it more clearly, and more negatively.
      • This troper agrees that abortion is unlikely. When Jaunita was younger, Hiro said she was a rather devoted Catholic, who normally come down hard on the anti-abortion side (unless it is different in that alternate future). Juanita was likely gauging Hiro's reaction more than anything, as YT informs Hiro, Juanita wants who is grown-up and knows what they want. Hiro wasn't mature enough at that point, and he reaction told her so.

  • What is the symbol in the middle of Da5id's name? Is it the number five, or the Hebrew letter Lamed? (It is implied that Da5id is Jewish.) How the heck is his name pronounced, anyway?
    • Although Hebrew would make sense, given his religion, it seems like he's referencing the Latin alphabet/number system. V is both a letter and the symbol for 5- thus, Da5id is pronounced the same as David.
    • It's there to show you he's a l33t h@x0r....
      • It is evidently just pronounced David, thats how it's pronounced in the audiobook anyway.

  • Those two chapters about Jason Breckinridge. You know. Those two chapters that have no impact on the rest of the story, that interrupt the concert scene where Hiro has his first run in with Raven. And that aren't even interesting enough to qualify as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. Those two chapters just bug me.
    • Shows the effort Uncle Enzo takes to meet with YT. Establishes Enzo's character as a man with an eye for details and a strong sense of rewarding his friends. Also develops the theme of Organization Men versus Subversives which is important in Snow Crash and one of the main themes of The Diamond Age. (Basically, one reason Enzo is so keen to recruit YT is that the Mafia is full of clueless MBAs like Jason and there are almost no real wiseguys left.)
    • Also, it's just pretty funny that we get the full history of a franchise-owning Mafioso who turns out to be completely unimportant in comparison to Y.T.
    • It's also the closest thing we get to seeing how a completely ordinary person (yes, in this world you can work for the Mafia and still rate as "completely ordinary") lives in this Verse and might react to these events from the sidelines.
    • Anyway, he seems to be the one Uncle Enzo was thinking of as "the lieutenant" who gets his throat cut by Raven.

  • Mom's possible risk of getting infected by snow crash, which led Y.T. to destroy the home computer. Did any feds get it? Hiro deduces that the feds were actually part of the programming machine working for Rife. Of course, he already has an army of programmers like the woman from "3verse Systems in Mountain View," not to mention the undoubtedly large team at Rife Advanced Research Enterprises. Aside from getting Rife interested in Y.T., was there any significance to this tangent? Similarly, mom undergoes an increasingly long polygraph, where she is injected with what she claims are uppers like caffeine - but was this really an injection of the virus? Mom seems to be just fine at the end of the book with no further mentions.
    • Y.T. doesn't know the whole plan yet. It was reasonable to guess that the endgame involved infecting all programmers everywhere; she couldn't know that as a contractor working for Rife, her mom was among the last on the list. Smashing the computer maybe wasn't the best idea, but love makes you do the wacky.
    • The book seems to drop hints that Y.T.'s mom was involved in a software project for the US gov, that had ever changing requirements. It also seems to hint that Rife contracts out the delivery device for the Hacker WMD. My assumption was that Y.T.'s mom was on the team writing the crazy light show device, and that Y.T.'s outburst drew the attention of the feds and therefore Rife to her, leading to her abduction, etc. Mom is at no risk of infection, as Rife certainly doesn't want to wipe out his programmers before they've produced the delivery mechanism for his weapon.
    • The Feds were probably the only ones who could work on the killer virus without succumbing to it. They're very firmly disciplined never to question the purpose of their assignments, and the narrative even openly says that their low-tech 2D screens are something they'll be grateful for: a hint that they can code the virus without seeing the virus.
    • I thought they worked on the project at such a discrete level not because it was super-classified (which it was), but so that they wouldn't be infected. The higher-ups kept changing the project because, as well as the light show needing to keep up with popular culture, they were also trying to figure out how to effectively formulate the program while not knowing deep programming and binary deeply enough to succumb to it.

  • So, Y.T.'s mom is questioned by the feds about her daugher. Later, Y.T. is kidnapped by the feds. Yet later we learn that the feds work closely with Rife. We also know that Y.T.'s mom is under heavy surveillance even on a normal day. Why is it then that the feds did not tap in the call Y.T. gives her mother after fleeing and send a team to recapture her? It's not like they couldn't know about her fleeing as she escaped from a helicopter that had the president in it.
    • What would be the point? Rife is in charge. He would have to tell them to get her.

  • Y.T. is arrested because she took the pizza from Hiro. They point out that since she wasn't doing it on courier business, they wouldn't bail her out. She was doing it on Mafia business. Wouldn't them bailing her out be worse?
    • The point was that she voluntarily took a job she had no connection to on any level. Therefore, nobody's obligated to bail her out of anything.

  • Hiro's father was in World War II. L. Bob Rife was at school in The Sixties. The book was written in 1992. Just what year is the present day, and how did the US government etc fall apart so fast that the post-national world is now seen as the norm?
    • ...Uncle Enzo fought in Vietnam. There's a mention of Hiro having been born in the 1970s, and one of him being in his mid-thirties. Cable out-competed the phone companies. The economy crashed. Basically, the book has already happened.

Slaughterhouse-FiveHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Snow Queen

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