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“Neuromancer” and “Snow Crash” Comparison


It is hard to disagree that most people like specific genres of books and usually read only them. One of the reasons for that is that texts share certain elements, which make them rather similar but still different. Precisely repetitive narrative elements, including plot, theme, characters, and setting, allow various books to be classified into certain genres. In contrast, the details of these elements of literary works still make them different and, thus, interesting. For example, romance novels usually share a similar plot, which tells the story of two lovers and their happiness and problems, and characters. However, the individual characteristics of each novel are always different. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast how one narrative element, precisely the plot, is treated in Neuromancer and Snow Crash.

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Information about the Novels

Neuromancer was written by William Gibson, an American writer, and first published in 1984. It belongs to the contemporary and cyberpunk literary period, and its genre may be defined as the science or speculative fiction (Featherly). The setting of the novel corresponds with the rules of this genre – the action takes place in the near future, and the events of the book happen both on earth and in space.

Snow Crash is a science fiction and cyberpunk novel that was written by an American writer Neal Stephenson and first published in 1992. Its genre is the same as Neuromancer‘s, but some researchers define it as post-cyberpunk (Stephenson). Moreover, it is believed that this novel is a parody of Gibson’s book and the cyberpunk itself (Stephenson). Before comparing and contrasting the plots of these two novels, it is essential to provide their summaries.


Case, the main character, is a middleman for drug dealers and smugglers. After stealing from his bosses, he was punished with the damage of his nervous system, which prevented him from entering the matrix again (Gibson). Case runs into Linda Lee, his ex, whom he still loves, and he decides to give her all his money (Gibson). However, he then finds out that some critical data was stolen by her.

Case’s life changes after he meets Molly, a girl who works for Armitage. Her boss is a mysterious ex-military point man who is looking for a group of people who could perform a series of heists (Gibson). After Armitage promises to help Case with restoring his nervous system and jack into the matrix, Case joins the team. They simultaneously kidnap and recruit Peter Riviera, who can create life-like holographic hallucinations with the help of unique implants, and all together, they travel into space.

Molly becomes suspicious of Armitage and, with the help of Case, starts researching her boss. They find out that his real name is Corto, and he is being manipulated by Wintermute (Gibson). Wintermute and Neuromancer are two AIs that need to be united in order to become powerful (Gibson). Case and Molly, who have developed a romantic relationship, have to battle Riviera, Armitage, and AIs. Neuromancer traps Case in the cyberspace and creates a digital replica of Linda Lee in order to keep him there voluntarily (Gibson). Molly gets captured by Riviera, but Case leaves cyberspace and rescues her. Wintermute escapes and joins Neuromancer to become as powerful as the matrix itself.

Snow Crash

Hiro Protagonist, the main character of the book, is a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia and a talented hacker. He meets Y.T., a young skateboarder, and they start a partnership: they gather intel and sell it to the CIC, which is the organization that appeared from the merger of the Library of Congress and CIA (Snow Crash 21). A man named Raven offers Hiro a datafile titled Snow Crash, a particular form of narcotic (Snow Crash 42). Da5id, a hacker and Hiro’s friend, decides to view a bitmap image from the file. This results in his computer’s crash, and Da5id suffers real brain damage (Snow Crash 70). Juanita Marquez, Hiro’s ex-girlfriend, provides him with a database full of research, where there are evident connections between ancient Sumerian culture and the virus.

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Uncle Enzo, the Mafia boss, offers Y.T. freelance jobs, and she agrees. Hiro’s and Y.T.’s investigations coincide, and the connections between L. Bob Rife, Reverend Wayne’s Pearly Gates, and the neuro-linguistic viruses are becoming evident. Juanita’s research proved the fact that the brain function could be programmed by the ancient Sumerian ur-language with the help of a DNA altering virus and audio stimuli (Snow Crash 278). The nam-shub of Enki, a counter-virus, is able to prevent the brain from processing the Sumerian language (Snow Crash 253). As for L. Bob Rife, he developed the Snow Crash – the drug that had to help him make the public vulnerable to new forms of viruses (Snow Crash 407). The digital version of the virus is especially dangerous for hackers who are used to processing data in binary form.

Hiro finds out that L. Bob Rife uses a gigantic Raft to import the virus to America and infect thousands of people with it. Moreover, Rife captures Y.T., and Hiro gets on the raft, finds the nam-shub of Enki, gets it read out, and breaks Rife’s control over the Raft (Snow Crash 387). Then he neutralizes the virus, Y.T. escapes, Rife dies, and Hiro and Juanita appear to be reconciled.

Comparing and Contrasting the Plots

It is evident from the summaries that the plots of these two novels are rather similar if not almost identical. There are four main elements of a plot: a conflict, the rising action, the climax, and the resolution. In Neuromancer and Snow Crash, the root problem and the reason for the conflict is the villain who wants to become powerful. They damage the lives of the main characters and threaten a significant number of people. In both novels, the rising action is the combination of the protagonists suddenly meeting their exes, teaming up with a girl they barely know, and learning about the upcoming problems. The climax happens when the novels’ antagonists capture the main character’s female friend, and this leads to the resolution: some or all of the villains are either dead or punished.

In order to find more plot connections, it is essential to pay attention to the main characters, who are surprisingly similar. The male protagonist, who is a hacker, his ex-girlfriend who interferes with his life, a new female friend who is devoted to the main character, her mysterious boss, and several villains. The decisions of the main characters are also similar and lead to similar events. For example, Case and Molly and Hiro and Y.T. unite in order to find some information about their bosses. The difference between the plot twists is that, at the end of Neuromancer, Case and Molly are in romantic relationships after he rejects his ex. On the contrary, Snow Crash finished with Hiro’s and Juanita’s reunion, and with Y.T., they are just friends and co-workers. Moreover, in Neuromancer, there is no virus threatening people, and if to consider the AIs as the villains, they finally get what they want, unlike the antagonists from Snow Crash.

Works Cited

Featherly, Kevin. “Neuromancer.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 May. 2018, Accessed 12 Jun. 2020.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. Hachette UK, 2016.

Stephenson, Neal. “The Sci-Fi Guru Who Predicted Google Earth Explains Silicon Valley’s Latest Obsession.” Interview by Joanna Robinson. The Vanity Fair Interview, 2017, Web.

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Snow Crash. Random House Publishing Group, 2003.

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