Reading Anathem made me want to go back and reread Snow Crash, so that's what I'm doing now (You might remember that I reviewed Snow Crash once, long ago; it's a cyberpunk classic). And today I came across the following delectable scene, which takes place at cyberspace hangout for hackers and various other types of elite. Hiro Protagonist is, yes, our protagonist; and Da5id is his hugely successful buddy. Think Bill Gates with more street cred. Previously, they'd both been offered a chance to try "Snow Crash," which they know nothing about but assume is some kind of virus. Hiro passed, but Da5id is curious - and confident enough in his antivirus protection to give it a go:
For a second, nothing happens. "I'm waiting," Da5id says.Of course, Da5id's really not back to normal, not at all. And thus is our story set in motion. But you know me; I prefer to tease rather than to spoil. ;-)
An avatar materialize on the table in front of Da5id, starting out ghostly and transparent, gradually becoming solid and three-dimensional. It's a really trite effect; Hiro and Da5id are already laughing.
The avatar is a stark naked Brandy. It doesn't even look like the standard Brandy; this looks like one of the cheap Taiwanese Brandy knockoffs. Clearly, it's just a daemon. She is holding a pair of tubes in her hands, about the size of paper-towel rolls.
Da5id is leaning back in his chair, enjoying this. There is something hilariously tawdry about the entire scene.
The Brandy leans forward, becking Da5id toward her. Da5id leans into her face, grinning broadly. She puts her crude, ruby-red lips up by his ear and mumbles something that Hiro can't hear.
When she leans back away from Da5id, his face has changed. He looks dazed and expressionless. Maybe Da5id really looks that way; maybe Snow Crash has messed up his avatar somehow so that it's no longer tracking Da5id's true facial expressions. But he's staring straight ahead, eyes frozen in their sockets.
The Brandy holds the pair of tubes up in front of Da5id's immobilized face and spreads them apart. It's actually a scroll. She's unrolling it right in front of Da5id's face, spreading it apart like a flat two-dimensional screen in front of his eyes. Da5id's face has taken on a bluish tinge as it reflects light coming out of the scroll.
Hiro walks around the table to look. He gets a brief glimpse of the scroll before the Brandy snaps it shut again. It is a living wall of light, like a flexible, flat-screened television set, and it's not showing anything at all. Just static. White noise. Snow.
Then she's gone, leaving no trace behind. Desultory, sarcastic applause sounds from a few tables in the Hacker Quadrant.
Da5id's back to normal, wearing a grin that's part snide and part embarrassed.
And now I'm off to see if I can sort out that problem with my Virtual Hypnotist tutorial. At this point, I'm thinking the easiest solution will be just to reload it on some other venue. Fortunately, Blogger has a new feature that lets you create web pages to attach to your blog. I haven't investigated yet, but it looks promising.
To be continued.