In 1992 Stephenson, far far ahead of the times, dreamed up an original cast of characters and took them on an hilarious, exciting, and unforgettable adventure. How could he have predicted the future so well? He understood the role of the internet, virtual reality, and the power of extremist religions AND YES we may very well be moving toward franchised countries. What clever, amusing, and distressing ideas! I'd love to see a movie version but I shudder to think how it would turn out.