BOOK: Cryptonomicon (Was: Neal Stephenson on virtue of OSses (&
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 09:36:28 EDT

In a message dated 99-06-26 00:05:40 EDT, (Freeman Craig Presson) wrote:

> I finished _Cryptonomicon_ a couple of weeks ago -- it makes the
> aforementioned reference to
> "Eutropians," and frequently refers to a free Unix OS called Finux (named
> for the nationality instead
> of the given name of the instigator). There are also lightly "encrypted"
> references to several current
> luminaries in cryptology. Makes me wonder what else he may have salted the
> text with; maybe there
> are all kinds of little treasures for historians or military cognoscenti.

I just finished the book Friday. Without a doubt, this is the best novel I've read in ten years. (Although the previously noted minor editorial lapses did set my teeth on edge.) I also had the feeling that there was a LOT more in the book than I was able to get in the one disjointed (airplane time) reading I was able to devote to it.

Regarding the military details, Stephenson clearly did his homework. There's a GREAT book called "Bodyguard of Lies" by Anthony Cave Brown that many consider to be the "bible" of the history of WWII espionage. Cryptonomicon seemed to be thoroughly consistent with what I recall from "Bodyguard".

The earlier comment that the book seemed to have a "fractal" structure was right on: The lives of the main characters had a recursively repeating pattern that provided a depth (often comic) to the over-all story that was just, well, awesome.

BTW, to those who might condemn the plot-line of the book as having too many coincidences and "Dickensian" twists, I strongly recommend Tom Wolfe's essay about reconstructing "the American Novel" -- he makes the great point that novelists should not fear being accused of being too "contrived", because reality too often seems that way . . .

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley