Then he wrote Snow Crash, a book that postulated the Metaverse, an exquisitely fleshed-out vision of a digital alternative world, and Stephenson found himself at the front ranks of cyberpunk authors. “I was sort of going for broke with Snow Crash,” he told me a few years back. “I had tried to write stuff that was more conventional and that would be appealing to a large audience, and it didn’t work. I figured I would just go for broke, write something really weird, and not be so worried about whether it was a good career move or not.”

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