The Metaverse is a collective virtual space inhabited by individuals’ avatars, each described as “…a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse.” The term was coined by Stephenson and illustrates his vision of how the future of the Internet may evolve to embed virtual reality technologies.
The term avatar, although not attributed to Stephenson, was popularised throughout computer games and the World Wide Web.
The novel has been viewed as satire and a parody of cyberpunk by some critics, as evident through the protagonist’s name Hiro Protagonist.