Imago's gender-bending, mixed-race ooloi creates an image that is not so much "alien" to contemporary U.S. popular culture as it is iconic of its aesthetic. Snow Crash's social circle, too, an African-Asian dreadlocked hacker, his elegant Latina love interest, a skate-boarding white girl and her buff Inuit squeeze, looks familiar. And not to say that you wouldn't find this foursome walking down the real street in L.A., but if you saw them, it would be hard not to resist the thought: they look like a Benetton ad. How did cross-racial, cross-cultural sexual exchange come to look less like a political statement than like a fashion statement?