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Crytponomicon - man what a read

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Just got through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and man what a fun ride this book has been. Not really sure how I ended up with this book in the first place - it's really not the sort of thing I usually read as I usually chew through Sci-Fi or non-fiction, but this is one hell of a ride that made me crack up hard more than few times... It's not often I get such a kick out of a book <s>...

by Neal Stephenson
Avon (November 1, 2002)


The book's convergence of several stories that mix present day and World War 2 yarns about cryptology and a treasure hunt for sunken (in more ways than one <s>) gold. Sounds like an unlikely combination and that's part of what makes this such a fun read - this book is deep in details and both serious and hilarious at the same time, because a lot of it is written with an inner ear voice - characters thinking out loud basically. And the stuff that comes out is damn entertaining. The modern end of the story deals with setting up a high tech data haven in a remote part of the world that gets side tracked by a discovery of World War 2 treasure. The World War 2 story runs several characters through rather interesting adventures all over the world. Sharks and canibals are involved in one story - need I say more? <g>

What is cool with this book is the tone - it's written by an obvious geek with appreciation for the obsessive compulsive geek behaviors and all <s>, but also with a WTF attitude to the way the world (both of 'em works) - something I can identify with, he he.

I also find it fascinating to read about World War 2 and the chaos that went on during those years. It's just incredibly hard to understand the mood of those times and this book puts you in the middle of it from various very different perspectives, yet without being a 'war' book as it captures the mood and the chaos of the period. I feel like a complete wimp when I think about the people that put their life on the line a 100 million times over. I just cannot picture myself in that era being uhm, heroic in any way, which is a bit humbling. I just hope we don't have the opportunity to have to find out - in that way - what we're made of. (and yeah, that's a point the book gets into too <s>).

This book is big - and its kind of a slow read as you have to pay attention to the details <s>. So if you have a week (or three) to kill this book is a good way to waste it...

Highly enjoyable.

Posted in Personal  

The Voices of Reason


Hank Fay
August 10, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Hi Rick,

I enjoyed it also, enough to plow through (enjoyably) his Baroque Series, about the rise of what we call science. Cryptonomicon is in a way the epilogue to the Baroque Series, although written first. Stephenson's earlier work, Snowcrash, anticipates the Cyber world, in a brilliant, creative way: unrelated to the rest, but a good (shorter than the others) read.

Once you work your way through the development of science, you might want to explore one of the big discoveries, or at least codifications, of modern science: entropy. Roger Zelazny's companion and collaborator, Jane Linkskold, finished and posthumously published Donnerjack, a brilliant novel exploring entropy from an empathetic perspective.


Doug Hennig
August 10, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Hey Rick.

Since you liked Cryptonomicon, check out Diamond Age and Snow Crash. They're actually more readable than Cryptonomicon but of course not as detailed or expansive. I started reading the Baroque series but have to confess that I only made it 1/3 the way through the first one. It's about 10 times more dense and detailed than Cryptonomicon so it's a fairly tough slog.


August 10, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

If you liked Cryptonomicon you should enjoy: The Baroque Cycle.

It is a huge trilogy made up of these 3 books:

The Confusion
System Of The World

Once you get started and meet the main characters you have a great read as you travel around the world during the time of Isaac Newton.

The characters are "ancestors" of the ones you met in Cryptonomicon.

Set aside a lot of time though! It is long. But very enjoyable. I didn't want it to end as I got to "spend so much time" with these characters.


August 10, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Yes, what a read in deed. One of my favorites! Another developer and I read this at the same time a couple of years ago and had a blast dissecting it during free moments when we were supposed to be working :-)

BTW, do you ever fear van eyck phreaking before punching in your atm pin these days?

Martin Salias
August 10, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Yes, the book is great in many senses, and Stephenson is a truly geek at heart (and a very good writer, which is a nice combination). So much as to write a piece like:

In the beginning was the command line

This is a pretty short essay and is a very fun read, when you have half an hour or so.

See you,

Killer Shrike
August 12, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Yeah, great book. You really should press on and read the full Baroque Cycle as well to get the full story of the Saftoes and Enoch Root.

Snow Crash is fun too, though I didn't care for the ending. Still got to give props for a book whose main character is named Hiro Protagonist though :D

Steven Black
August 13, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Definitely agree about Cryptonomicon, Rick. Many of his others are worthy too. I think you'll love Snow Crash.

August 20, 2007

# re: Crytponomicon - man what a read

Another vote for SnowCrash and The Diamond Age.

I hated the Baroque Cycle though.

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