User Review - Flag as inappropriate
To hear Wikipedia tell it, author Neal Stephenson was ashamed of this book. It was his first novel, written in 1984, and when Stephenson hit the big time it was a natural choice for the publisher to bring it back into print. Stephenson refused until he saw that copies were selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. "[T]he only thing worse than people reading the book was paying that much to read it."
If you're a Stephenson fan, read it. Yes, it's raw, but the genius of his later books shows through. The rawness is in plot and character -- not in writing -- so even though the book doesn't measure up to his later work, it's still a pleasant experience.
The book reads like a cross between Tom Sharpe's "Wilt" novels and Stanislaw Lem. Specifically, the Wilt pattern of normal people reacting to strange events blossoming out of control -- and, like Wilt, at a university -- combined with Lem's absurdist-bureaucrat esthetic. Plus giant rats and a live action role player obsessed with them.
And if you live in Boston, you'll never look at the Citgo sign the same way again.