Cryptonomicon: beware of burch's book reviews

Spike Jones (
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 21:56:36 -0700

Greg, you got me in trouble with my coworkers. After reading your comments on Cryptonomicon, I Amazonned a copy, arrived the day before I had to fly east on business. The plane being about the only time I get to myself, I started it and was sucked in before I had finished 50 pages. That evening four coworkers invited me to dinner, which would have ordinarily would have been a compelling opportunity, as three of those four are attractive single young ladies. But I wanted to read Cryptonomicon! Concerned that I would hurt their feelings if I told them so, and unwilling to lie or make up a lame excuse, I just said "No, I am staying in this evening, you all go on."

A couple hours later, I was reading about Sargeant Shaftoe dissing Lieutenant Ronald Reagan. Stephenson has built up this scene where Shaftoe is in a hospital bed, severely wounded, malarial, and doped to the ears on morphine. At this point in the story one does not even know if Shaftoe will live or die. As the sargeant regains consciousness, Reagan wishes to interview him to generate propaganda in order to sucker patriotic young men to enlist in fighting the evil Nippponese empire:

Reagan: Sargeant, what advise have you for enlistees? Shaftoe: Shoot the one with the sword first. Reagan: Smaaaart. Is that because the one with the sword is the officer? Shaftoe: NO FUCKHEAD! Its because he has a goddamn sword!

That set me to heehawwwing so loud I was detected by one of the young ladies in the adjacent room, who had by this time returned from dinner, and since the walls of that particular hotel were not sufficiently soundproof, she knew my television was not on. Consequently she figured that either I blew them off to read a book, or I was with some joke telling floozy. So. Thanks a lot Greg! {8-[

But, it was well worth it. {8^D

This is the first fiction work I know of that uses real math. This Stephenson is truly remarkable. {8-] spike