Two Old Favorites Re-Discovered in the Same Day

The other day, I was sorting through my bookshelves trying to find something for my son to read.  He just blew through the four books of the Hyperion series and was looking for fresh meat.  As I was browsing, I picked up Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash, which I have not read in several years.  Despite reading the book twice before, I was immediately engulfed by the first chapter.  I know I am a geek, but I honestly think that the first chapter of Snow Crash may be the best opening of any book I have ever read.

I seldom watch TV, but later that day I had just finished watching the A&E remake of Andromeda Strain, which was a favorite of mine when I was a boy.  I happened across the Redford-Dunaway movie "Three Days of the Condor."  This is one of my favorite spy movies, and not just because I am a sucker for Faye Dunaway (I always thought the young Faye Dunaway would have been a great Dagny Taggert in Atlas Shrugged.)  One of the reasons I like the movie is its pacing.  I enjoy a full-speed ahead never-take-a-breath action movie as much as the next person, but do they all have to be that way.  This was a thriller with an almost languid pace. 


  1. bobby b:

    Similarly, while cleaning boxes out of storage, I found all three huge parts of The Baroque Series, and (of course) had to read it all through again for the umpteenth time, which led to the digging-out of the dog-eared Cryptonomicon, blowing a week's worth of free time and reconfirming that Snow Crash was no fluke.

  2. ElamBend:

    I love seventies political thrillers. Paralax View is another good one.

  3. Rob:

    I just sold my copy of 'Cryptonomicon' !!!

  4. arkham:

    Coppola's "The Conversation" is one of those 70's thrillers with superb pacing. You can see the influence of her father in the pace of Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" as well.

  5. Dr. T:

    I liked Neil Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon,' but I wasn't as quite as enthusiastic about 'Snow Crash.' I'm not sure why, since many critics agree with you that 'Snow Crash' is his best novel.

    I've read Crichton's 'Andromeda Strain' novel, and I liked the movie so much that I converted my VHS copy to DVD before the former degraded too much.

    'Three Days of the Condor,' which I like, is substantially different from James Grady's 'Six Days of the Condor' novel, which I like, too. This is the only instance I know of where a movie significantly digresses from the novel it's based on and yet remains as good as the book.

    I recommend a very interesting novel by David Brin: 'Kiln People' published in 2002. It's about the changes that occur after someone invents a way for people to make golems of themselves that last 24 hours. The golems contain your smarts, memories, and personality, so they can act in your stead.

  6. Kyle Bennett:

    What I like about Stephenson is what a b*llsy writer he is. Who else could get away with naming the hero protagonist Hiro Protagonist? He doesn't just want you to suspend disbelief, he dares you not to, and by staying on that edge he can do substantive things few other writers could get away with.

    Snow Crash is one of the best books ever written, IMO. Not top ten, but probably top 100. Of course, there's still a lot of books I haven't read yet, and I keep adding to my list of top 100. It must have about 200 in it now.

    A&E's Andromeda Strain was not the worst movie I've ever seen, but I can't think offhand of which ones beat it out for the honors.

    Rob, you'll regret that one day.

  7. Craig Marks:

    I knew I loved ya! Dan Simmons' Hyperion series if top drawer, as is his Ilium/Olympos duology. My buddy back east has been bugging me to read Snow Crash for some time; I guess he must be on to something. My buddy loves Simmons/Stephenson; you love Simmons/Stephenson; therefore I ... .

  8. Elliot:


    What did you not like about it? I've made it through about 1 hour (of 4) so far and I'm still interested in finishing it. I wouldn't nominate it for any Oscars—it does have that made-for-TV feel and the characters are a bit flat (from what I've seen). But worst ever? Maybe the last three hours may change my mind, or maybe you haven't seen enough movies to think of some real stinkers.

    The original movie was just OK for me. The acting was a bit better (but not that much better). The book beats both movies hands down.

  9. Jeffrey Ellis:

    Nah, the opening chapter of Stephenson's "The Cryptonomicon" is the best of any book.