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"Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have."
- Frederik Pohl

MagnaPoon  
  To hitch a ride from a faster vehicle while riding a skateboard (from harpoon).  

The word can be used as a verb ("I've been pooned") and as a noun ("I hitched a ride with a poon"). This interesting piece of technovelgy occurs during the epic pizza delivery scene in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson's debut science fiction novel. While Hiro, the protagonist of the novel, is engaged in trying to deliver a pizza that is already twenty minutes late, his vehicle is harpooned by a bonded courier on a skateboard.

Thunk. And more red lights come up on the windshield: the perimeter security of the Deliverator's vehicle has been breached.

No. It can't be. Someone is shadowing him. Right off his left flank. A person on a skateboard rolling down the highway right behind him. The Deliverator, in his distracted state, has allowed himself to get pooned. As in harpooned. There's a big round padded electromagnet, on the end of an arachnofiber cable. It has just thunked on the back of the Deliverator's car and stuck. Ten feet behind him, the owner of this cursed device is surfing, taking him for a ride. Skateboarding along like a water-skier behind a boat.

In the rearview, flashes of orange and blue. The parasite is not just a punk out having a good time. 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.

No need to get rattled. The Kourier will have to unpoon or else be slammed sideways into the slower vehicle.

Done. The Kourier isn't ten feet behind him anymore - he is right there, peering in the rear window. Anticipating the maneuver, the Kourier reeled in his cord, which is attached to a handle with a power reel in it, and is now right on top of the pizza mobile...

An orange-and-blue-gloved hand reaches forward, a transparent sheet of plastic draped over it, and slaps his driver's side window. The Deliverator has just been stickered. The sticker is a foot across and reads, in big orange block letters, printed backward so that he can read it from the inside:

*THAT WAS STALE*

From Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam in 1992
Additional resources -

Some reviewers call this scene "the greatest pizza delivery scene in world literature." I won't argue that point. The device is described in some detail in several different places in the book; I also liked the stickers that harpooners use when vehicle owners try to shake them loose with various maneuvers.

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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

MagnaPoon-related news articles:
  - 50 MPH Rollerblade Ride

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Hi-Yo Modobag! Away!

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