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Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon


  11:04:56 am, by Nimble   , 333 words  
Categories: Reviews, Books, Fiction

Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon

If this book was like a dessert, it would be like ordering chocolate cake, and having the waiter come back to the table with something that was so ornate, you almost felt guilty eating it.

It's the fervent attention to detail that feels like the same expenditure of effort that another author would have spent cobbling together six standard novels.

This book is a good-smelling concoction of history, war, geeks, violence, honour, computers, geeks, sex, climates, cryptography, geeks, human nature, mystery, swearing and geeks. This book is not for the easily offended :)

One warning right off about the book: it's one of those books that requires you to keep several threads alive in your head while you're reading it, as it flips between wartime and present day (not quite "20 minutes into the future"), amongst a cast of flawed-yet-noble characters.

I've been to a few tropical climes, and I must say that I started having olfactory hallucinations from getting off planes in Thailand and Bali after reading some of the passages. He has a very evocative way with words.

It's easy to sympathize with even the roughest of main characters.

There's a sprinkling of math for the math nerds - not necessary to the story, but you will enjoy it a lot more if you have a little bit of a technical and/or math background.

The tone is a little uneven in spots, and we're treated to a gratuitous start of a novel during a Van Eck Phreaking episode.

Many chapters leave you grasping for a handhold as they describe what has already happened to a not-yet-named person, making the jumps in time and between people in the plot a little hard.

The ending, too, is a little too abrupt to be satisfying.

Despite the distractions, it's a grand, lurid tale, and I'd highly recommend it.

As an added bonus, in the back, there is an honest-to-goodness industrial strength encryption algorithm that you can use with a pack of cards, invented by Bruce Schneier.

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