I remember there are some clues in the book, like the year of birth of Hiro's father and his age when Hiro was born. I don't remember if Hiro's exact age is specified.

So, has someone calculated the year when Snow Crash takes place?


I found the passage where some clues are given: Google Book, Snow Crash, page 57

Hiro's father had joined the army in 1944, at the age of sixteen

1944 - 16 = 1928

Hiro was born when his father was in his late middle age.

1928 + 55-59 = 1983-1987

So the only missing piece is Hiro's age.


  • I haven't read Snow Crash, but the TVTropes page starts with a quote that implies Hiro's older than 25. Maybe The Diamond Age has some clues? See this question.
    – user1027
    Mar 18, 2011 at 21:29

6 Answers 6


There's a clue to Hiro's age in the following passage:

This is the kind of lifestyle that sounded romantic to him as recently as five years ago. But in the bleak light of full adulthood, which is to one's early twenties as Sunday morning is to Saturday night ...
page 21

It suggests that he's in his late twenties.

1983-1987 + 26-29 = 2009-2016

  • 10
    Further evidence to line this up - Raven is in his early forties, and he was born in 1972 (they nuked my Dad on one of the Aleutian islands in 1972 - I was born a month after that). So the answer is - RIGHT NOW. Feb 29, 2012 at 16:08

The exact time of the setting was probably made intentionally obscure, so that Stephenson didn't fall into the Eugenics war trap. From the calculations you mention the time would be close to now 2011, or in a few years, because Hiro is probably not much older than 30. But the future portrayed in the book seems like the time is at least 20-30 years ahead of us now.

So it seems like Neal Stephenson kind of messed up his math, he probably shouldn't have mentioned any exact dates for Hiro's father.

It maybe that Stephenson like many, many great sci-writers before him, simply overestimated the pace of change for dramatic effect (intentionally or unintentionally).

  • 2
    It was published in 1992, so "future portrayed in the book" was 20-30 years ahead him when he white this. Anyway, how do you get this 2011 year, Hiro was 25?
    – DavRob60
    Feb 11, 2011 at 16:19
  • @DavRob60 I forgot what his age was. I'll switch the answer to 2010. Feb 11, 2011 at 16:25
  • By switching to "because Hiro is 25" I think you made it worst... I don't know Hiro's age. I was under the impression that he was older than this. Something between 30 and 39, but I cannot find any reference of this...
    – DavRob60
    Feb 11, 2011 at 16:31
  • @DavRob60 - well then, time to roll it back. I always got the impression that he was a young man, a 20-something, but I don't remember any explicit references. Feb 11, 2011 at 16:37
  • That's the problem with this question...
    – DavRob60
    Feb 11, 2011 at 16:43

Well there's this bit :

Hiro cuts across the Hacker Quadrant, headed for Da5id's table. He recognizes many of the people in here, but as usual, he's surprised and disturbed by the number he doesn't recognize -- all those sharp, perceptive twenty-one-year-old faces. Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.

Which suggests he's in his 30's. So from his dad's age and Hiro's it suggests 2013-2022.


"The story begins and ends in Los Angeles, which is no longer part of what is left of the United States, during the early 21st century."

I found this on wikipedia.

  • 3
    Well, I know that, I checked Wikipedia before posting this question. But I'm sure someone could come up with a more precise answer.
    – DavRob60
    Feb 10, 2011 at 23:15

When Hiro and Raven are on motorcycles in the metaverse near the end of the book they discuss their fathers, and Hiro says he and Raven were both born in the 1970s. Add 30 years, and you get 2000-2010 as the time period.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! It would be great if you could supply an exact quote.
    – DavidW
    Apr 4, 2021 at 20:43

If you do the math, you realize that the evens of "Snow Crash" have already happened by now.

Hiro is 30, his dad was a WWII vet (who entered the war at the youngest possible age, and had Hiro and an older-than-usual age). Math isn't my strong point but basically, "Snow Crash" takes place in the 2000s or 2010s. The book was written in the 1990s, when 2000 was still "the future."

I regard "Snow Crash" and other books like it as unintentional Alternate History pieces. Just think of "Snow Crash" as taking place in an alternate universe, rather than "the future." Because that's basically what it is, by now.

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