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
First, it should be said that this book should not be classified as sci-fi or fantasy. It is primarily a book about code-breaking during WWII. There are large parts of the book that take place during the present day, focusing on the descendants of the WWII protagonists. The discussions of code-breaking are fairly superficial, so if you are a expecting some nice mathematical discussions, you won't find them. Instead, the book is a collection of many plodding short scenes that eventually tie together, but it is not worth the effort getting to the end. I made it only because I was convinced that the book would get more exciting eventually. I was wrong. This book could have easily been 1/3 the length. I felt like the editor did not do a very good job.
The performance had flaws as well. Military personnel were narrated in an over-the-top "dumb grunt" type of voice. The only female voice started out being normal, then for some unexplicable reason took on a southern hillbilly twang for a while, then changed back. Huh? Some of the best narration was the Japanese (or Nipponese, as the author insists on calling them) characters.
If Stephenson was trying to write an epic tale, I don't think he succeeded. The only thing epic was the length. The plot would have been good had it been presented in a shorter book, but being so spread out simply made it boring.
A better reader.
He just wrecked what I thought was a pretty good book with his reading intonation.
Neil Stephenson's book Seveneves was possibly the best book I've read in several years, so I read this looking for something similar. I was disappointed. There was only one character I cared about (Goto Dengo), and a dozen other characters who really didn't seem to matter. Maybe it was just hard to follow in audio format than it would have been in written form because of the number of story lines and details, but ultimately I just didn't care, and thought a lot of pieces were left hanging or unnecessary to the primary story lines.
Smart, funny, exciting. No other writer on earth can make math so interesting, and so thrilling. Love this book, and all the rest.
William Dufris ruined it for me, but Neal Stephenson didn't do him any favors. The story was choppy and cumbersome. Didn't make it through the whole thing. The story seemed predictable and corny.
By having John Lee or nearly anyone else do it. Oh yea, and not having a terrible story would help too.
From a performance perspective something delineating the change in time would have been a vast improvement. 1942 Pacific, 1942 England, Present day... anything to help orientate the listener.
I doubt it. There are two other books of his in my library, but as I look at them I have no memory of them which tells me I probably should have skipped this one too.
Perhaps additional people for the multitude of speaking parts. They all ran together.
Character? There is not enough character development to gain any feelings for any of them. And where are the women? As far as I can tell there are none... well maybe that is a woman in the "present day" part, but I am still trying to get through this thing and could not tell you her name. Apparently one person whose name I thought was Abby is a man.
How did this thing come up under mysteries? Oh I get it, the mystery is what is the plot? Apparently all of these story lines are going to come together... if I make it that far.
There is so much information packed into this novel that simply listening is not enough. I liked the story, the characters, even the style, but a year after completing it, I barely remember what I liked so much and find myself wishing I had taken notes on the mathematics, computations, inventions, history and cryptography. I remember really getting into the information and understanding everything. Now, I feel a bit like a student who didn't study and forgot everything for test. I will read/listen again, but this time I will take notes.
Report Inappropriate Content