Sotheby’s to Auction Neal Stepheson’s ‘Snow Crash’ Manuscript and Digital Collectibles

The auction house is offering the original 1991 manuscript of the sci-fi novel that coined the term "metaverse," alongside a series of physical and digital collectibles.

AccessTimeIconFeb 24, 2023 at 12:23 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 3, 2023 at 4:19 p.m. UTC
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Sotheby’s will soon auction off the original manuscript for “Snow Crash,” Neal Stephenson’s landmark 1992 science fiction book that coined the terms “metaverse” and “avatar."

The sale will feature a series of physical and digital collectibles linked to elements from the book, including a hand-forged sword created by New Zealand-based designer Wētā Workshop inspired by the one used by the book’s protagonist.

There will also be a sale of a generative art collection titled Infocalypse by artist Tony Sheeder featuring works inspired by “Dioxin Posse,” the graphic novel that preceded "Snow Crash." The digital art collection will be sold on Sotheby’s Metaverse non-fungible token (NFT) platform, “a full-circle moment for the man who coined the term,” Sotheby's said in a press release.

The collection celebrates 30 years since the novel was published and its impact on Web3. The book’s exploration into the human experience in the digital world has played a significant role in defining what the metaverse might look like in years to come.

“Half of my life ago, with my head full of computer graphics lore and visions of a satirical cyberpunk future, I sat down to write 'Snow Crash,'” Stephenson said in the press release. “Covered with hand-written edits and typesetting notes that have since been rendered obsolete by digital codes, it bridges the era during which video games and the Internet became ubiquitous in our lives.”

Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global head of science and popular culture, said in a press release that she’s enthusiastic about bringing the lore from the novel to fans at a time when its cultural relevance has been revitalized.

“'Snow Crash' is a cult classic, known by fans all over the world for its prescient look at the future of technology,” said Hatton. “Now considered a true totem of our modern age, Stephenson not only predicted technologies which we consider mainstream today, but his ideas have since gone on to inspire generations of inventors and entrepreneurs who shape the very fabric of our digital development.”

The "Snow Crash" manuscript is estimated to be worth between $40,000 and $60,000. Bidding opens on Feb. 27.

In the years since Stephenson published his novel he has been busy developing the foundations for his own metaverse concept. In June, he teamed up with crypto pioneer Peter Vessenes to begin building Lamina1, a metaverse-focused blockchain. In December, the company created an ecosystem fund to distribute grants to Web3 developers.


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Cam Thompson

Cam Thompson was a news reporter at CoinDesk.

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