Okay, I’m gonna show a little bit of my age now: I read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash when it was a new book, and it turned my brain inside out. It affected a lot of other people the same way. Though not as seminal a work in the cyberpunk oeuvre as William Gibson’s Neuromancer, it was still pretty damned influential.
At long last, Snow Crash is going to be made into a movie. When I say “at long last”, that doesn’t mean I’ve been eager to see this happen. In fact, I think the odds of a book like this being turned into a good and faithful movie are slim. I mean that the movie rights to the book were first acquired by Paramount in 1992, and the project was later transferred to Disney, where it seemed to die.
The development of the movie is now back at Paramount, in the hands of Kathleen Kennedy (Kennedy/Marshall) as producer and Joe Cornish as director. Cornish is the guy who directed a highly buzzed-about alien invasion movie named Attack the Block, which I haven’t seen but which I heard good things about. He seems to be a hot property, and Paramount seems to have made this production a priority, so this is probably going to become a reality.
I hate to be a pessimist (which in fact goes against my nature), but I have some anxieties because there are so many ways this can be fucked up, starting with selection of the actor to play the book’s half-black, half-Japanese, sword-wielding hacker protagonist, Hiro Protagonist. Yeah, that’s his name, and don’t laugh until you’ve read the book.
They have to find someone who has a big air of cool floating all around him, both brainy and physical, and it better not be some pasty white guy and it better not be Will Smith. Honestly, I’m probably not enough of a movie and TV aficionado to have any good idea about a viable candidate, but I’m pretty sure it will be easier to fuck up the choice than to get it right.
And that’s just for starters. There’s also a real risk of the movie falling flat because, as fascinating as the book was 20 years ago, its ideas have been so copied and extended since then that it won’t seem nearly so wild and mind-bending today as it did when it first appeared — even with the wonders of modern-day CGI magic. Hell, The Matrix ripped off some key ideas from Snow Crash and it came out 13 years ago!
It will also be difficult to capture the book’s complexity in a 2-hour span. Stephenson pulled off the trick of getting readers engrossed in a world and a series of events that if you tried to summarize them in a Cliff Notes version would seem almost farcical. That will be a much tougher feat to accomplish in the limited space of a movie. (To see what I mean, try reading the summary of the book in this article at The Font of All Human Knowledge.)
BUT, with all these trepidations, I still can’t help but feel kind of excited that this cult classic is about the be popularized. I’ll be preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Hell, maybe it will help get some of Stephenson’s even better books up on the big screen, or the small one. A Cryptonomicon mini-series anyone? Reamde on Imax?
Does anyone else know what I’m talking about?
(Big thanks to Sylvia F. for posting about this news on FB.)