Neal Stephenson, author who coined ‘metaverse,’ is building his own metaverse


The term “metaverse” came from the 1992 science fiction “Snow Crash” in which American author Neal Stephenson envisaged a virtual reality world. Thirty years on, now Stephenson is working towards making his vision a reality.

Stephenson is teaming up with cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes to co-found a new blockchain called Lamina 1, which they hope will form “the base layer for the open metaverse,” according to an announcement by the duo on June 9.

“A place to build something a bit closer to Neal’s vision — one that privileges creators, technical and artistic, one that provides support, spatial computing tech, and a community to support those who are building out the metaverse,” Vessenes said.

A core team led by Stephenson and Vessenes has been formed to realise the project’s vision with financial backing from a list of investors including Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin and Rony Abovitz, former chief executive of AR company Magic Leap.

In the project, Stephenson meant to bring some core goals, such as “helping get artists and other value creators paid properly for their work, helping the environment, and seeing a truly open metaverse get built instead of seeing the metaverse vision co-opted by monopolies,” Vessenes said. Lamina1 will probably be carbon negative, he added. 

Stephenson may offer more glimpses of the Lamina1 project when he speaks at “Consensus 2022,” a conference on Web3 and crypto assets to be held in Texas, US, between June 9 and 12. 

Japanese translation of Snow Crash reprinted earlier this year due to rising popularity

Outside of writing, the 62-year-old served as the chief futurist for an AR firm named Magic between 2014 and 2020.

In Japan, Hayakawa Publishing reprinted its 2001 edition of “Snow Crash” with a new cover earlier this year due to a growing interest in Stephenson’s work and the metaverse.

A testnet and a betanet of Lamina1 are scheduled to be launched later this year.