In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse - mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy - is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Watrehouse and Detatchment 2702 - commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe - is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.
Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia - a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails grandaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat.
But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy, with its roots in Detachment 2702, linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.
A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought, and creative daring.
©1999 Neil Stephenson (P)2009 Macmillan Audio
Yes -- because I started on the print version years ago, and got stuck on it. The recorded version carried me through several cross-country trips, and was thoroughly engaging.
It's difficult to pick one out -- there were several that stick with me. Enoch Root's scenes were all pretty memorable.
When reading a book, I tend to voice characters in my head in a way that I would probably speak. In a piece like this, that intertwines real characters from history with very well-defined fictional characters, who run the gamut from nerdy intellectuals to gung-ho Marines, Dufris' incredible range really adds to the story.
"Part one of a 12 part story."
An exhausting book. I had no idea how all these characters and plot elements would (or could) tie together. But they did. Stephenson's mind is a wildly complex place...
This is the second Neal Stephenson book I've read and among the most enjoyable. I would put Crytonomicon in my desert island collection.
It's difficult to write a review and both touch on it with any depth and not include any spoiler alerts.
It covers several intersecting and parallel tales which at first appear random and a little chaotic, but now knowing Neal Stephenson it's worth noting that a characters impact, importance, and direction of a character cannot be denoted by early "screen time".
This book was well narrated and well edited. The characters are distinctly written and portrayed. Actual character evolution makes Crytonomicon something you can become emotionally invested in.
A strong recommendation for those who have a fascination in math or coding.
I have neither and loved the book.
The emphasis should be on the plural, plots. Each story can more or less stand on its own and and does for the most part until it comes very near to the conclusion. Each story is well illustrated with consistent characters and a fluidly unpredictable, while consistent, plot.
No story lags as I recall, but if an element did it is not long before a transition to the next story.
He depicts the characters very well and establish a distinctive vocal Idenity to each that surpasses their basic biographical information. I felt as if he conformed to and played against established stereotypes. As characters and the marrative evolved so did Dufris spearhead patterns. As the chapters grew more sympathetic, stressed, or analytical so did their visual picture.
A side note though. My father read this as a print and was disappointed, not by the work done, but by the fact that the characters appeared differently in his internal narrative than in the Dufris's portrayal.
Literally that phrase.
Enjoyable and complex.
I like Irish and Swedish crime thrillers and sociological exposes concerning African American life from Colonial times to the end of WWII. Recently I have taken a real liking to the works of Neal Stephenson and Fyodor Dostoevsky as well.
Yes but with guarded words. Prepare to commit to over 40 hours of intense mathematical and historical discourse told with a lot of wit but seemingly without any direction until the last 3 hours or so.
Not really. It's not that kind of book. In Stephenson's first two SciFi masterpieces he makes use of his creativity for imagining a possible technological dystopia but as the two time periods in this novel are the (then) present of the late 90's and WWII era America, The Philipines, Japan, China, Europe and all the seas in between, he has to rely on actual math and while some of it is over the head of most (or at least this) listener(s), he also makes use of his remarkable wit of which we have only heard snatches of up to this point. There's no real suspense although there are a few suspenseful situations. Stephenson's unique outlook on the world and his remarkably well-realized characters reminds me of John Updike for some reason, perhaps for the fact that they seem like real people who think about real things rather than just some made-up characters.I found myself laughing like crazy for seemingly no reason just for the "oh so ordinary but so true" way some of the characters talk. Stephenson is certainly one of the most versatile writers out there. There is so much here and , as someone who majored in East Asian Studies and lives in Japan, he hit the nail on the head at least as far as Japan is concerned but he steers away from just idolization/damnation of other cultures but sees them from a basic human standpoint without being either cynical or preachy. You don't really realize he is toeing this line but he is. I think the expression "Nips" was used a bit much but it gave a sense of period and albeit it a terrible slanderous word, it is marginally less grating on the ear than the more common slur "Japs." Interestingly enough, I don't think the German equivalents were used even once. Fancy that.
Probably Randy although his German accents are pretty interesting as he demonstrated in another book "The Murder of the Century." His Japanese accents sound strangely Native American and his Filipino accents sound Mexican but his basic dry wit narrator's voice is probably my favorite. The narrators for the audiobooks must be handpicked by Stephenson himself because after listening to each I couldn't imagine a better reader for either one. He has decent variations and his Douglas MacArthur and Ronald Reagan voices had me laughing with incredulity. His Shaftoe voice took a while to get used to because he sounds just like a mindless grunt which, although his behavior over most of the novel reflects as much, it cheapens him a bit.
I laughed at some of the asides such as General Mills calculation of making Cap'n Crunch nuggets the same size as teeth so as to be ergonomically eaten and Randy's ex-girlfriend's research on "shaving pornography" as a sort of indirect hint to get him to shave off his beard not to mention the absolutely batsh*t ridiculous handling of the furniture-to-be-bequeathed using an interactive x y graph in which hopeful relatives of Randy (all genius IQ mathematicians and scientists) lug the items they want all over the parking lot comparing monetary and emotional value with the x and y values. Basically, half the time, you're thinking, "Where the heck is he going with this?" It's a fun and geeky ride but a long one and there is a payoff but it doesn't come until about the 37 hour mark. For me, it was worth it but I can see how some might see it as a "too little, too late" sort of deal. On the bright side, without revealing any spoilers, the ending is the most clear cut of all the Stephenson SciFI novels so far.
I'll admit that I thought the story took a while to really get going, but long before I got anywhere near the end, it was in the "can't put it down" category. It's not often that I identify with characters as much as I did with some of the folks in this book. I also really enjoyed most of the digressions (the math ones especially, stockings/furniture not so much).
Whatever they are paying the narrator is not enough. He was great, and managed to produce a wide variety of accents and emotions.
I don't think I was committed to the book. When they explain some cryptography by telling you equations and spitting out numbers, it's hard to focus on. I'm a geek/nerd by nature and this stuff is interesting however I think I'd need to see it on paper to understand it. I wasn't attached to the characters either.
Me am Pop-Surrealist Tiki-Artist living and making Art on the active volcanic "Big Island" of Hawaii. Aloha.
Epic. Lush. mind-expanding.
It's hugely intelligent. It takes you in new unexpected turns at every chance, with characters you really grow to enjoy. Hyper violent World War Two action scenes to super-nerd semi-science fiction to deep mathematic oceans of code breaking. The true history of the world is revealed.
Breaking a WWII code reveals the secret to the war, and mankind's purpose in life.
Here is my review in Haiku form:
breaking a code
reveals WW II debt
(I use the Term Godzilla here as Godzilla is referred to in the film "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" in which Godzilla has origins rooted in Japan's World War II past. While, Godzilla is still a mutant dinosaur created by the atomic bomb, he is also described as an incarnation of those killed or who were left to die at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Pacific War.)
Everything, I found that every sentence in this book is fascinating. I was bored even for a second. Even the slow parts of the book kept me interested and engaged.
I still find it hard to belive than one person can voice so many people.
Listening to books often provides a startlingly different perspective than reading. SnowCrash's faults of extreme didactic-ism were highlighted while listening to what seemed interminable lecture after lecture, read, to my ears, in an affected and irritating manner. On the other hand Cryptonomicron, if not improved, was certainly not "diminished" by the narration. It took a while to accept Dufris' sometimes heavy handed characterization of some of the main characters, but as the stories wound on, what seemed affected early on, became less problematic later. As with Snowcrash there's a LOT of lecturing going on; but Stephenson works the lectures into conversations in a far more adept fashion. And the plots, while fantastic, were grounded in lots of solid research...eg there really WAS a German sub, U-234, that was supposed to bring material that might allow Japan to construct an atomic bomb before the war's end.
Gotu's construction of Golgotha.
no way! I actually pulled out the hardback copy to get details straight several times.
Imaginative historical fiction. Stephenson painted a rich picture of the human side ww2 events.
The interaction of the fictional Bobby Shaftoe with the historical MacArthur reminds me of the best of Turtledove.
Dufris did a solid job of representing the characters.
The idea that our technology has somehow made us 'different' than the bright people of the past is strongly challenged by this book. Good writing of a good story. Slightly abrupt ending.
I loved the book, but the Audible version had a serious error. The Audible version is broken into ~1 hr 15 min audio chapters (not book chapters). These 2nd and 3rd of these audio chapters are out of order. I notified Audible of the problem, but I can see from other reviewers that they've done this before as well...several years ago.
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