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
Sixty years young. Surfer, Kayaker, Abalone diver, Backpacker. Rabid reader/listener. I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
Yes, the characters become so much more alive in the audio format. I love the print edition, but the audiobook is richer .
Can't choose just one:Bobby Shafto, flawed determination, horny junkie. Both Waterhouse men( Lawrence,Randy) nerds as men of action. America Shafto, the woman of my dreams! Enoch Root, comic immortality, morality. Goto Dengo, just all around great character.
The U-boat Kapitane is killer too.
Both many times.
Some tough sections to get through early in the book where the math gets a bit deep but worth the effort. a masterpiece
Good characters fast moving fun you get to know the players you want to and not the lesser ones. Paul T.
Make it into two or even three books.
Different voices for different characters.
I did sleep through some of it.
Only halfway through book but have to say this is one of the best audio books so far (out of about 50 or 60) that I've heard. I've listened to Snow Crash and was looking for something similar from this book. There's two stories running concurrently - one during World War 2 and another in relatively current time and I assume they will intersect. By the end of the book I may have a different view on the story but I'm having quite a bit of fun along the way. Lots of pithy humor, most of it pretty funny and delivered perfectly. There's a lot of 'nuts and bolts' stuff about encryption and theory dispersed through the first part of the book and if you're not into learning as you listen you may end up zoning-out during those parts.
By the way, this is a really long book, good for me because I like 'em that way, bad for you if you're into short 'reads'.
I really have enjoyed Stephenson’s Science Fiction: Snow Crash, Anathem, The Diamond Age etc.
Cryptonomicon is not Science Fiction. It is a look at past and current technology with the same eye that Stephenson brings to future and alien technology. I have a PhD in Astrophysics, and I know the history of the world war II code breakers, Alan Turing, and in general what math and science geeks are like. I think Stephenson captures the spirit of all of these very well.
I had to wait years for this to come out unabridged in Audible, but I am glad that I waited. The reader is great as well and I can't think of anything I would have wanted left out in an abridged version. Every word is worth hearing.
The book is pretty good, hysterical at times, but why is this book in SciFi section? It has absolutely nothing to do with science Fiction???
this is another excellent audio adaptation of Stephenson. I have read this before, in paper even, and enjoyed it. My enjoyment of the audio is infinitely greater though. The exuberance and humour of Stephenson that comes through in a good reading amazes me every time.
Not only that, but this time around, I am getting all the little "in" jokes as the cast of characters, most of whom are descended from the characters in the Baroque Cycle, take the stage. Of course Cryptocomicon was written many years before the Baroque Cycle, so that makes this referential integrity the more impressive.
Being a Unix admin for the past 15 years this book was a wonderful trip down memory lane intermixed into a wonderful story.
I had got the abridged version of this book a few years ago from audible and like it but felt there was so much missing. Have the full version of the book made things make so much more sense.
I can see why lots of people may have had problems with this book with as much explaining as done on things i think are basic. Being a Dwarf most likely means that those long technical explanation are something I can enjoy. Though it is possible that a none dwarf, elf or wizard would be able to enjoy the book even without have to understand all the technical bits. Not everyone needs to understand the equations on how to sleep with mary as long as Waterhouse understands it.
This book is not for everyone but it can be a good glimpse into the mind or a unix computer geek.
I found this book a bit hard to listen to (& follow) in some places (mostly first 1/4 of book), hence the 4 star rating. I found this book absolutely hilarious in a lot of places, but completely enjoyable overall
I loved this book.
Sure, it was massive. And I take what the other reviewers said about there being unneccessary diversions though the book.
But the fact is that, despite its size, I didn't want it to finish. I love Neal Stephenson's style. He can capture a complicated mesh of emotions with a single sentence- sometimes a single word. His writing style is loose and very very funny. The story itself rambles around in a massively entertaining meander through the decades- but it gets you there in its own good time.
I disagree with comments that it's so full of technical jargon that you need to have a degree, an anorac, or a specialist knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons esoterica to get it. All the technical stuff is explained for non-technical folks like me, and it's nearly always very daft, and very funny.
It being funny and daft doesn't mean that it is without a moral compass. There is a strong 'under-story' that will, at times, capture your heart by creeping up while you're not expecting it, and getting in there by stealth. Neal S's writing style makes this happen seamlessly.
A word for the narrator. He pulled the story along with a slick and beatifully timed delivery. Good at accents, so you know who's saying what. It's an understated delivery, but it's exactly how it should be. He presents the words without imposing himself onto them.
However: This is not a life-changing book. It is enlightening, but never profound. It is a book that will entertain you rather than tranform you. You may think that 42hours (or 900+ pages) is too much of an undertaking merely to be entertained. I'd argue that you'll know whether you like it or not within the first hour of reading it- so the commitment is only until then. By the time Bobby Shafto and his team have knocked over the money carriers you should have an idea of whether you want to keep reading.
So- go on. You've nothing to lose!
"A milestone in fiction"
Where to start...who but Neal Stephenson could write a book so epic in scope, seamlessly weaving a tale from the hayday of computing, WW2 wartime espionage and contemporary eCommerce underpinned by the fascinating field of cryptography. To call the book gripping is like describing the South Pole as "a bit nippy" Superlatives are rarely merited. In this case they are.
"Outstanding Translation of a Classic"
I'd already read Cryptonomicon, a couple of times, prior to listening to it. I couldn't have been more pleased. Dufris captures the essence of this weighty journey admirably, and his intonation and studied understanding comes across with real heartfelt sympathy for the motley collection of characters and rich locations both historical and contemporary. I couldn't have been happier at the treatment of what I believe to be Stephenson's finest book.
"wonderful if very long book"
This is a superb book which I enjoyed listening too very much but it is not without flaws and peculiarities.
To start with it is arguable that it is unnecessarily long. One or two reviewers on Amazon have suggested that the author could have done with a good editor, and there is some truth in that; in some places the detail is mind-boggling and quite difficult to follow, particularly in an audiobook. However, I confess that I liked the detail - it must appeal to the inner nerd in me I think - and I do like books that explore the byways of history away from the main road, as it were. And the storyline is satisfyingly complicated and hooks you in gradually; do stick at it as it improves a lot after the first section.
Narration is excellent - indeed it makes the book. I do like William Dufris' style, amused and kinda laid-back, and he brings the book brilliantly to life, and his characterisations are perfect.
Not everyone's cup of tea, I'm sure, but five stars for me.
"Excellent capture of the book"
I first Cryptonomicon around 10 years ago, and find myself rereading it every couple of years. Part WW2 spy thriller, part modern day geek drama, part introduction to basic cryptography, it is all brain candy.
On my last reread, I tried this audiobook version, and was extremely happy with how it captured both the tone and the charcters of the book.
William Dufris tone and consistent delivery manage to capture the underlying humour and bring life to Neal Stephenson's baroque prose. He manages to evoke the different settings and characters through subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of accents
I definitely recommend this.
"Deep and technical, but accessible."
Underneath all the cryptography and tech, Cryptonomicon has a great story with well rounded, modern characters. The original novel features graphs and diagrams to explain pretty technical topics like frequency counting and van eck phreaking, but you don't notice them missing in this audio book, as the narrator carries you along with the in depth descriptions while progressing the narrative.
It's ensemble cast, split across two timeframes, provide plenty of variety, the occasional laugh, and lots of relatable geeks. It's a very long book, but it never drags. Once it's over, you want to find out what the characters are up to.
I loved this book. If you have any interest in mathematics, codes, the second world war and so many other things, this is a brilliant book for you. I don't rate many books highly but this is 5 out of 5. It kept me spellbound for days and I couldn't wait to return to it. My husband felt a bit left out! But I got so much done whilst listening to it!
A thoroughly good book. The style of narration takes a little getting used to, but persist, you'll soon love it.
I'm helplessly in love with this book in dead tree form, and it's no different in audiobook form.
The narrative jumps between a Marine Raider and a codebreaker in World War Two, and a computer hacker descendant in the present time. This is an precursor to the much more ambitious Baroque Cycle in many ways, and shares lots of the same themes (and surnames) with that: currency as an abstract concept, computers, codes, war, information theory, maths.
It also shares the usual Stephensonian tropes: lengthy (but fascinating) digressions, snarky, dialogue, a plot somewhat less important than the prose, digs at the soft sciences, and sumptuous period detail.
It also finally tells you what that scroll lock light on your keyboard is useful for.
I loved this book!
Arguably Neal Stephenson can be a little verbose but this can be forgiven in this really interesting and fascinating book.
Spanning the period from WW2 to the present day it is an epic well researched story and includes key appearances of real-life people as diverse as Alan Turing and Douglas MacArthur.
The characters are believable and the humour remincient of Joseph Heller's Catch 22.
Well worth the nearly 43 hours listen,
"There is a good book somewhere"
I really tried hard with this book. I listened to it for about 6 hours before I gave up. There is a good story in here somewhere, but the narrative is plagued with pointless epic similes that add little to the enjoyment and deviations leaving the listener wondering where they are in the tale. I wonder if the author was paid by the word count?
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