Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

July 2009

I enjoyed this book so much more the second time around. I’m not sure why; maybe I’m just used to Stephenson’s writing style now, maybe I’m more open to the way his mind works, or maybe I had more invested in the characters after falling in love with the Baroque Cycle. It certainly didn’t hurt that, this time around, I was in a hot, steamy, chaotic place (Thailand) reading about another hot, steamy, chaotic place (the Philippines)

It was interesting to finally really see the connections between Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle. I particularly like the parallel relationships between the main characters (the brilliant genius and the brilliant not-quite-genius: Newton and Daniel Waterhouse, Turing and Lawrence Waterhouse), and I took great pleasure in recognizing references to things such as the white sultans of Kinakuta and Eliza Peak—stuff from the Baroque Cycle which hadn’t actually “happened” yet when Cryptonomicon was written.

Like with Pattern Recognition, there’s a certain “datedness” about Cryptonomicon now, but you just can’t write about computer technology these days and not have it seem dated 6 months down the line. That in no way detracts from the book, however; Cryptonomicon is of its time, but it feels timeless as well. Yes, it’s a very long book, and yes, there is codebreaking stuff in there that goes way over my head, but this book is worth every hour of time I spent reading it.

Further reading…