Sotheby’s Snow Crash Auction: Own Historic Metaverse NFTs

    Did you know the term “metaverse” was first used back in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction Snow Crash? Well, now you do! This year marks 30 years since the first publication of the cyberpunk novel and who other than Sotheby’s to commemorate the occasion with an auction? Sotheby’s Snow Crash auction is every hardcore fan’s dream come true as it will feature 6 digital collectible items and an NFT collection titled Infocalypse.

    Not a boring day in  NFTs. Whether you opt for one of the six physical items (that also have an NFT double) or the NFT collection, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own a piece of history from the novel that inspired the metaverse fruition into reality! Check out the auction’s promotion video and read on for details.

    What is Snow Crash? 

    Before we dive into Sotheby’s Snow Crash Auction, let’s get a brief background about this revolutionary novel. There is a general consensus that this novel impacted everyone who read it back in the 90s. Anthony Ha perfectly articulated the sentiment around Snow Crash in episode 487 of the Greek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast:

    “This was a period when there were some clunky representations of virtual reality in movies and TV. So it wasn’t that Snow Crash was the first time I encountered that kind of iconography, but it was the first time it actually seemed cool.”

    Author: Neal Stephenson
    Publication Date: June 1992
    Genre: Science fiction, Cyberpunk, Postcyberpunk
    Pages: 480
    Language: English
    Publisher: Bantam Books (US)


    • Listed among TIME Magazine’s Top 100 All-Time Novels written in English since 1923.
    • Snow Crash is considered, along with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, one of the pillars of the cyberpunk genre.
    • Also, one of the most important works of modern science fiction. 
    • The book is credited with coining the term “Metaverse”. 
    • It popularized the use of the term “avatar,” which James Cameron (director of Titanic and Avatar) cited as a primary inspiration in his work. 

    Snow Crash Plot 

    “Snow Crash” centers on Hiro, a katana-wielding computer hacker working as the “Deliverator” (a cool word for pizza delivery guy in the novel). In the real world, he lives with a roommate in a tight storage unit. He escapes to the metaverse and lives in an alternate reality. Sounds familiar? Sounds very similar to the plot of Ready Player One’s movie. Quoting Stephenson, “when you live in a shithole, there’s always the Metaverse.” 

    This metaverse’s physical infrastructure is owned by L. Bob Rife, a sinister tycoon who unleashes a computer virus, known as “snow crash”. This virus hijacks people’s brains in and out of the metaverse, but those infected lose the ability to think for themselves. 

    Aided by a “Kourier” named Yours Truly, or Y.T. – the original character in the Dioxin Posse graphic novel – Hiro works to take down the distributor of Snow Crash, L. Bob Rife, and Raven the assassin in his employ.

    About Snow Crash’s Author: Neal Stephenson

    Neal Stephenson is the highlight of Sotheby’s Snow Crash auction as he will be signing most of the collectibles you purchase. Here’s a brief background into the mind that brought us the metaverse’s blueprint.

    Born: 1959 in Fort Meade
    Education: B.A. in geography and a minor in physics from Boston University in 1981
    Writing Style: explores areas such as mathematics, linguistics, cryptography, philosophy, mythology, and history of science.
    Writing Genre: speculative fiction – categorized as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and post-cyberpunk.
    Other Books: Seveneves, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Zodiac, and the three-volume historical epic The Baroque Cycle.

    • He also writes nonfiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired.
    • The first employee at Blue Origin, the spaceflight company founded by Jeff Bezos. 
    • Founded Lamina1 with Peter Vessenes in 2022, a start-up that will use blockchain technology to build an “open metaverse”. Fun fact, it is inspired by Snow Crash.

    Sotheby’s Snow Crash Auction

    To make things a bit more sentimental and to further bridge the gap between digital and physical, Sotheby’s Snow Crash auction will feature 6 physical items along with the launch of an NFT collection “Infocalypse”. 

    You can check the details for each item and place a bid through Sotheby’s website

    1. NFT Collection: Infocalpyse Unique Generative Edition
    2. Sword with Custom-Built Presentation Box ( NFT version available)
    3. Snow Crash Original Manuscript
    4. Original Art Cover for Snow Crash Book 
    5. Original Typesetting Snow Crash manuscript 
    6. 10 Slides from Dioxin Posse (NFT version available)
    7. Y.T. Leather Jacket 

    Sotheby’s x Snow Crash Infocalypse NFTs

    Infocalpyse Unique Generative Edition NFTs are one of the main highlights in the Sotheby’s Snow Crash auction. In fact, this collection is the core celebration of the novel’s success in visualizing the metaverse, and ultimately NFTs.

    Supply: Open Edition
    Time: Open from 27 February to 6 March 2023
    NFT Style: Generative Art – Reveal after time expires
    Price: $250
    Buy from: Sotheby’s metaverse 

    Infocalypse is composed of NFTs with images (yet to be revealed) designed for and inspired by, Dioxin Posse, the graphic novel that was supposed to be released instead of Snow Crash. 

    This NFT project is an artistic collaboration between Tony Sheeder, the artist behind Dioxin Posse, Sterling Crispin artist/software developer, and author Neal Stephenson.

    The NFTs displayed on their website are an example of the Generative Artwork available. As a purchaser, you will be randomly given one of the thousands of unique variations. Who knows how much these NFTs can fetch on secondary markets? May be worth a lot!

    What is the Future of the Metaverse? 

    Sotheby’s Snow Crash auction is indeed bridging the gap between physical and digital collectibles. This might be the right way to promote NFTs in the future. We heard Azuki’s founder Zagabond talking about bridging that gap with Physically-Backed Tokens. Also, Doodles have its foot in that domain as they opt for mass adoption.

    Maybe, the future of the metaverse and NFTs are both digital and physical.

    Stephenson’s imagination might have inspired and brought to life theoretical implementations of the metaverse, but he doesn’t claim to be able to predict what will happen next in the metaverse. According to Stephenson’s imagination,  the metaverse “is neither dystopian nor utopian” but has “the potential to be either of those things.” He adds “This is just the nature of the human condition.” What I find really interesting, is his ability to observe human nature and predict such an outcome. Whether it’s the metaverse or NFTs, what do you think are the predictions for web3 in 2023?


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