Book 14 was Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. It’s been on my list for several years. As a whole, the story was great, and the descriptions both of cyberspace (“The Metaverse”) and programming were some of the best I’ve seen in sci fi. He explains programming in ways that any layperson would be able to comprehend it. Well, any layperson who reads sci fi, anyways. 🙂
I found the lengthy conversations with the computer – lectures, really – to be tedious and somewhat preachy. It would, of course, give away much of the story to tell what I found most irritating about these lectures, so I won’t. However, I find the general sci fi bias against faith to be unnecessary and something of a cheap shot.
While I don’t think that hacking/programming/being online will ever be quite what is described here, the interaction between Reality and The Metaverse is fascinating and well played out. His description of Google Earth, 20 years before it was invented, was awesome. I imagine that, at the time, it must have seemed absolutely magical, but now it’s sort of The Way We Do Things.
As always in well-written sci fi, I’m fascinated by what predictions are still magical, and which ones are just every-day occurrences now.
I’m now reading The Tempest, and might get back to Cider House Rules at some point.