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"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl

Sintered Armorgel  
  A substance that is flexible when moved slowly, but which hardens upon external impact.  

It seems clear that what Stephenson is describing here is a shear thickening fluid, also called "dilatant" fluid.

His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air. A bullet will bounce off its arachnofiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door, an excess of perspiration wafts through it like a napalmed forest. Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel; feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books.
From Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam in 1992
Additional resources -

It turns out that others use this material as well:

It is a businessman making money. The orange and blue coverall, bulging all over with sintered armorgel padding, is the uniform of a Kourier. A Kourier from RadiKS, Radikal Kourier Systems. Like a bicycle messenger, but a hundred times more irritating because they don't pedal under their own power - they just latch on and slow you down.

See also the flexible armor suit from the 1966 novel Neutron Star by Larry Niven and the impact suit from the 1971 novel The Flying Sorcerors by David Gerrold and Larry Niven.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Snow Crash
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to Snow Crash
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

Sintered Armorgel-related news articles:
  - Liquid Armor With Shear Thickening Fluid

Articles related to Armor
DIY Taser-Proof Clothing
Look Great In Your Garrison Bespoke Bulletproof Suit
Bionic Body Armor Makes You Dodge Bullets
Designer Bulletproof Fashion

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