A terminally cute 1980s campus novel--as first-novelist Stephenson blends imitation-Thomas Pynchon with imitation Animal House: Apocalypse Meets the Practical Joke is the primary motif. Sarah Jane Johnson, student-body president, and Casimir Radon, physics major, seem to be the only two authentic humans left at American Megaversity--a metastasized academic plant squeezed vertically into a few great skyscrapers; in the aggregate, this ultra-modern campus is known to all as the "Plex." But the Plex also has rats galore and terrorist fraternities and lesbian/feminist cults and an unlimited supply of stereo-amp wattage. And when actual war--civil revolt--breaks out within the Plex, Stephenson's adolescent jollies go into high gear: there are rat swarms, guns, electronic devices, Dungeons and Dragons, exploding foodstuffs in the cafeteria; mysterious exchange students called Crotobaltislavonians appear; and the ruthless combatants come up with murderously elaborate schemes--involving scalding-in-the-shower as a result of thousands of dorm toilets flushed at the same moment. Some obvious campus appeal--but readers no longer living in dorms (and many of those still on campus) will probably find this merely repetitious, labored, and awfully dumb.