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4.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read. . .
Going in to CRYPTONOMICON, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I'd never read anything by Neal Stephenson, nor had I read any blurbs or reviews of the book. However, it had appeared on enough "Best Book" lists that I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.
This novel is fun, huge, funny, rambling, witty, and sprawling. It is clever, engaging, and...
Published on Aug. 7 2002 by Nathan
3.0 out of 5 stars Great author
....tough book for me to get into. Highly Math oriented and sometimes I would get bogged down in all of that. But Mr Stephenson sure knows how to tell a fascinating story
Published 6 months ago by Bootsy Bass
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the coolest book I've ever read,
I've read Cryptonomicon twice now and am convinced that while this is very tough read, it is both highly entertaining and extremely educational. Stephenson has a tendency to weigh the reader down with minutae, but it's the kind of information that'll make you hit the internet to learn even more about. The plot switches back and forth between two eras: 1940s in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of WWII and in present day. If you're a technically minded person interested in historical fiction, cryptography, and the evolution of currency (i know, sounds weird but is highly interesting written by Stephenson), this is a must read.
5.0 out of 5 stars High entertainment,
I enjoyed this book from start to finish, and went right to the computer to order more books by the author.
The style can be a little trying -- the metaphor density is about 6 to the page -- and it can get a little arch. Still, most of the flourishes are pretty fresh, while some are genuinely startling.
One review on this site complained of the overly "freakish" characters. That's certainly fair. If your taste doesn't run to characters who are extreme outsiders, you won't enjoy the book. Personally, I found the characters engaging.
Science fiction writers like to work a Theory of Everything into their plots. This author has a handful of Theories of Everything. I didn't mind. Most of the theories were interesting enough to serve as enhancements of the story rather than annoying digressions.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Glory",
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Paperback)
Plot Summary: How to summarize this plot...Well, It starts with 2 professors and 1 student riding bikes at a late 1930's Princeton talking about zeta functions and building a machine to do calculations. Then there are WWII stories from Bobby Shaftoe's and Lawrence Waterhouse's (the student above) very different perspectives. They are both part of a code-breaking part of the US military where Waterhouse is one of the chief enemy code crackers, along with Alan Turing for the British from the bike ride above, and Shaftoe one of the soldiers carrying out seemingly strange orders to make the results of these cracked codes look like random occurances. It takes a long time in the book for Shaftoe to realize the true agenda behind 90% of his missions. Waterhouse has added large sections to the Cryptonomicon, the compendium of all crypto knowledge, as a result of his work. The other part of the story involves Randy Waterhouse (grandson of Lawrence) and his new company Epiphyte trying to develop a data haven in the south Pacific and the various legal and technical troubles that it involves and the enemies they accrue. Randy and co. meet up with the Shaftoe descendants as part of a surveying and cable laying venture in the Philippines. One of the WWII era characters, Enoch Root, starts emailing Randy Waterhouse messages concerning a certain crypto system that was not broken during the war. This is the same secret code that Randy's grandfather Lawrence was also working on in his lifetime incidentally. Eventually, almost every decendant of a war era character, if not that character himself, becomes involved in what becomes a large treasure hunt. The plot is in no way as simplistic and boring as I made it sound, despite the seemingly boring subject matter of cryptography and digital currency may be.
Opinion: This is a long book, but I loved it. It is incredibly funny at several points and had me chuckling out loud. The 2 main plotlines are pretty seperate for like 700 of the 900 pages but come together in a very nice way. I liked the writing style most of the time. Long, train-of-thought sentences, very descriptive. It drew a nice mental picture of things. The story was very engaging all around and I never felt like the novel was dragging. The characters were very believable. I'm an engineer and didn't get lost in any of the technical, code-breaking and cryptological discussions, some people might. There are graphs in this book which usually deal with something like Lawrence's work performance vs. how many times he has ejaculated and how to optimize his work, so don't be intimidated with those, they are tangents most of the time. For the super nerdy among us, there is a complete description of the "Solitaire" encryption method in the Appendix...not to mention a PERL script in the text somewhere around page 450.
Recommendation: Read it. 5 out of 5 stars. Did I mention this is funny? I will be reading more Stephenson due to how much I enjoyed this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Post-Modern Masterpiece.,
This is a large, messy post-modern masterpiece. The novel's nearest comparisons are not science fiction (since this is not a SIFI novel or not much of one) but other novels that take a single intellectual point of inquiry and run a universe around that point (e.g., Dellio's Underworld or Pynchon's Mason and Dixon). The advantage Stephenson has over Dellio is that the central idea (how life is one big information system) is more interesting than the one in Underworld and the novel is just plain more fun. This is one of my favorite post-modern novels, and one that I think about often.
5.0 out of 5 stars simply stated.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Cryptonomicon (Hardcover)
better than jesus, heroin, and peanut butter.
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another opinion...,
I really having nothing more to add to the more intelligent review here, except to say: Quit classifying this book as cyberpunk!! It is a historical treasure hunt, and it's nothing like Snow Crash or The Diamond Age. Many people have complained about the ending of Cryptonomicon. I didn't think it was that bad. The past and present storylines converged and the adventure was completed, albeit with some loose ends. You want a bad ending, read The Diamond Age...a brilliant work, hamstrung by the last chapter.
Now, while I really liked Cryptonomicon it is by no means perfect. It doesn't appeal to a mass audience (is this bad?) and only geeks, engineers, and frequent readers of slashdot.org who are WW II buffs will truly appreciate it. I could have been trimmed by a couple hundred pages and been just as effective. I have no plans (at this point) to read the Baroque Cycle (prequel).
Time for a bowl of Cap'N Crunch...
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable read of my adult life.,
I really loved SNOW CRASH, but was a little daunted by the length of this book. I bought it when it first came out, but my son borrowed it and never gave it back. Finally, I gave up waiting and bought it again.
I'm glad I did because this book is probably the most enjoyable read of my adult life. I'm for once GLAD I'm a really slow reader because it's over 1100 pages and because the pleasure is just that much longer. I'm nearly finished now, the fun's nearly over, but I'm comforted by Stephenson's having published the first two books of his Quicksilver trilogy...
4.0 out of 5 stars Codebreaking, Computers, and Combat,
Reviewing an epic novel like "Cryptonomicon" is not easy. The sheer depth of Neal Stephenson's 1,100-page story about World War II codebreakers and modern-day technology entrepreneurs is bound to make any quick summary or analysis seem inadequate. That said, I will mention a few positives and negatives that struck me about this book.
POSITIVES: The story itself is remarkably clever and well thought out. Mr. Stephenson obviously did a tremendous amount of research on the World War II era and the art of cryptography, both past and present. Anyone with an interest in these subjects will not be disappointed. It is also obvious that Stephenson spent a considerable amount of time in the Philippines, where the bulk of the story unfolds. Actually, "Cryptonomicon" is several stories that run parallel to one another throughout the book and then gradually converge near the end. Stephenson makes it obvious from the beginning that these seemingly disparate plot lines are somehow related, but the relationship does not become clear for quite some time. Watching them intersect is very satisfying.
NEGATIVES: The book is far longer than necessary. Those who read Stephenson's fast-paced "Snow Crash" will be surprised by the tempo of "Cryptonomicon," which is much slower and more deliberate. Stephenson often gets sidetracked, using many pages to establish what ultimately turns out to be a minor element in the story line. The book probably would be much stronger without 300 or 400 pages of unnecessary material. Also, there are a few too many coincidences, which hurt the story's plausibility. Some of the coincidences are appropriate and necessary to the plot line, but others were thrown in for no apparent reason. For example, a primary character just happens to stumble upon the Hindenburg Disaster while riding his bike one evening, yet this episode has no bearing on the story (unless there is some hidden meaning beyond my grasp).
Overall, "Cryptonomicon" will not disappoint those who invest their time and money in it. Neal Stephenson is a stylish author with a vivid imagination and a sharp sense of humor. His passion for technology, mathematics, and history practically leap off the page. In "Cryptonomicon," he has combined these elements into an intriguing and unique tale.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great cyberpunk!,
I was one of those people who only liked the "old-fashioned" science-fiction epics by the old masters of science-fiction books, but, after reading "Cryptonomicon" and some other Neal Stephensen books, I have come to really like the sub-genre known as cyberpunk. I have purchased and am reading "Snow Crash", "Zodiac", as well as other cyberpunk books by other authors like "Neuromancer", "Prey", "Mona Lisa Overdrive" and "Cyber Hunter". Kudos to Stephensen!
4.0 out of 5 stars It was ok.,
The story is really good. The only problem i found was the chapters that deal with numbers. I found myself skiping 20 pages at one time. Other than that it was a good read.
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Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Hardcover - May 1 1999)
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