Short story reads like the first page of Snow Crash, recombined and awesome -- Leonard Richardson's "Mallory"

Futurismic just published Leonard Richardson's stupendous, colossal, monumentally geeky story "Mallory," which reads like the first three paragraphs of Snow Crash, but extended, remixed, and oh, so sweetly.

Futurismic editor Paul Raven sums it up, "Seriously - geek hackers and classic arcade games, electronic Darwinism and domestic espionage, venture capital and Valley-esque start-ups … and a healthy dose of intellectual property panic."

Leonard was one of my writing students at Viable Paradise a couple years back and he made a great impression then. And this is just the kind of story I love Futurismic for publishing. Run, don't walk -- and expect great things from Leonard Richardson.

Thanks to the General Arcade Machine Emulator, Vijay now inhabited a golden age. His laptop held every arcade game ever released, or at least the important ones, the ones written before games started getting ridiculous peripherals like drum kits and full-scale Army tanks. The only hard part had been finding the seedy web site that offered all the games as a graph. Because these games, even the forgotten ones, are still under copyright, and that eight kilobytes of data can’t go on your laptop unless you’ve got the two-hundred-pound cabinet to go with it.

Even three thousand games weren’t enough for Vijay, because none of them were perfect. So he’d built the Selfish GAME, which bred mutants with barbarians, spaceships, and wizards. It had been fun for two years and now it had stopped working. A week after the Pyromancy deadline, while all the cool people were converging on a field in Idaho with their machines and duct tape, Vijay was doing the most boring thing he could think of: making a spreadsheet. Most of the work he delegated to a script, but writing the script was so boring he didn’t mind when Rodney called.

Link (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. Mmmmhmm. I bought Snow Crash solely on Cory’s recommendation. I think it’s safe to say that that’s the last piece of his literary criticism I’ll be giving any credence to. Unless this one doesn’t in any way come across like a terribly gauche young man trying so, so hard to be William Gibson?

  2. Guernican, have you ever posted a positive comment ANYWHERE?

    I have perused your comment history on BB and, boy, you are quite the malcontent.

    You should do yourself a favor and unsubscribe.

    You obviously hate it here.

  3. I was lucky enough to read Mallory in draft! *Dances with glee at having Leonard for a friend.* Anyway, and with all fond bias, I think a closer parallel is space-opera-era Vinge. Mallory is *that* closely argued and smart.

  4. guernican, while I’ll grant you some similarities between snowcrash and neuromancer (I assume that’s the Gibson novel you’re referring to) I wouldn’t say Stephenson was trying “so, so hard” to be Gibson. They’re two completely different styles to my reading.

    Now Stephenson writing the same book twice (I’m looking at you “baroque cycle”), that’s another matter entirely.

    desp, the fact that the original post #2 got removed thereby bumping your post to #2 (a rant about post #2) makes my day :)

  5. Wow. While I think Gibson is great, he’s not in the same league as Stephenson, IMHO.

    Gibson has a bunch of great ideas and a good story telling gift, but Stephenson creates whole worlds, complex and multi-layered. After I’m done with a Stephenson book, I sometimes pick it right back up and start over.

  6. After I’m done with a Stephenson book, I sometimes pick it right back up and start over.

    Motto. I love Zodiac so much. I need to read it again now that I’ve seen Boston.

  7. I have long held that SF has a special relationship with grammar because it must so often invent all kinds of new language and style to be effective. I believe every instance of non-literary grammar helps SF stay relegated to genre fiction and evokes a kind of pulp-ism clearly inappropriate for writers like Gibson, Stephenson, Doctorow, Banks and, yes, Leonard! These are all defensibly writers of Literature with the big L. Writing about the future or technology ultimately shouldn’t land you in a specific section in the bookstore any more than writing about an autistic kid who learns to play virtuoso piano should.

    I think a sentence like “because none of them were perfect” potentially hurts a piece like this. None is traditionally singular when accompanied by a prepositional phrase; none would pretty clearly mean “not one” here. There’s an almost alarmingly passionate thread on Metafilter about this actually:

    You could argue that he’s establishing voice, but I don’t think so given the rest of the piece. Yes, I realize I need to get out more.

  8. Is calling someone an troll considered a form of trolling in and of itself? Prolly so, but I’m going to say NEENER to Guernican anyway for derailing the comments so quickly. Sourpuss.

    The story was fantastic, BTW.

  9. Is calling someone an troll considered a form of trolling in and of itself?

    It depends if they’re a troll or not. Are the comments malicious? Do they represent the real opinions of the commenter or are they designed solely to offend? Are they lengthy and repetitive? Are questions answered, arguments rebutted with new material? Does the subject have a history of other comments on other posts? Are they reasonable? If someone really is a troll, why shouldn’t you say it. It saves me time because I’ll just ignore their comments once they’ve been called out. Calling someone a troll just because they disagree with you is definitely trollish.

  10. The primary reason I’m here is because I fell for Cory’s writing. I loved what I just read, and I loved Snow Crash. It’s got so much gusto, and is just so damn fun. Thanks for the new find. And for those of you who didn’t like Snow Crash, maybe you would enjoy the audio version better. It’s very theatrical. I’ve listened to it several times now.

  11. But DON’T buy the audio version of “System of the World” trilogy by Stephenson. Even though the publisher says it is unabridged, it is NOT unabridged. It’s highly redacted.

    (I love how the word redacted comes easily to mind because of the Bush administration – hee hee! It’s a major part of Bush’s legacy!)

  12. @ #1 Guernican: Not that I agree, but I can see why some people would dislike Snow Crash; the ending is a bit limp. If you’re inclined to give Stephenson another shot, each of his books have gotten better and more complex. The Diamond Age is, for my money, exquisite.

    Here’s what I commented on Futurismic about this story:

    This rings to my internal ear as though Cory Doctorow or Charles Stross wrote Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs. I assure you I mean that in only the best sense.

    It’s a beautiful bonsai in its present form, and if it stays that way that will not change. Should Mr. Richardson choose expand it, I hope and suspect it will be more so.

  13. Zack: actually, there was no post #2 before mine, and I haven’t noticed my error until now…

  14. Cory, how long has it been since you read the first chapter of Snow Crash? It’s a great story, but not in that style at all.

  15. I’ve also read some of Leonard’s future offerings in draft, and let me just say they get better and better.

    Also, he co-wrote the awesome RESTful Web Services, which has a great plot, excellent (unicode) characters and a fantastic one paragraph summary of the entire history of the Web.

  16. W’v cm vry lng wy snc th < hrf="">txt-bsd “dvntr gms” w rvd bt thn (ths f s wh wr lv t tht tm f crs). Gms whr y wnt nwhr f y dd nt typ n th xct phrs, th whl phrs nd nthng bt th phrs. f y typd “pck p swrd” r “grb swrd” r “s swrd” nstd f “tk swrd” y gt nwhr. ftn thnk psychlgcl prblms xprncd n ltr lf r drctly crrltd wth th xtnt f plyng txt-bsd gms.

    Disemvowelled as spam. –TNH

  17. Moon, how many hours would the entire Baroque cycle take to listen too? It took me several years to read! I loved it, but I had to read it in small doses.

  18. The first one was 25 CDs and it was redacted!

    But if you listen to books while walking around and walking to work, it usually only takes a month or so.

    I “read” about 30 books a year by ripping them to mp3s. It used to be a lot more, but in the past 2 years, I’ve been listening to a LOT of opera. 3rd row seats at the Lyric! Sweet!

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