With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this ...
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 sumarine 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; the product of a truly icon
The author sometimes gets lost in long descriptions that do not add much to the story, to me it looks like he wants to show that he is an erudite. The story is nice, but not as intricate as I expected.
Been wanting to read Cryptonomicon for ages but the sheer bulk of the novel kept me away.I finally decided to give it a go this month, and it was a surprisingly good read. As several other review on Anobii have already pointed out, despite its
..."espite its reputation, the novel isn't that cryptic or hard core geek. In fact, I thought the novel was pretty straight forward in recounting the adventures of the several characters.
Well, this immense novel (some 900 pages) is many things - novel, cryptography primer, biography, history book, and doorstop. The plot covers two (related) timelines - the Pacific theatre in the second world war, and the same area in the modern day,
..." with side trips to the UK, US and Finland. I did enjoy the book in spite of is great length, though it is more thriller than science fiction, Stepensons's usual genre. There is also much about cryptography (coding), which I found a little complex to follow, but if you're interested makes fascinating reading (Stephenson has actually written a text book about the subject). Even computer genius Alan Turing makes numerous appearances.
Worth persevering, and has some great set pieces - though I wasn't 100% convinced by the ending, which after such a LONG journey was a little disappointing ;)
"I've been doing all of the 2701 work to this point.""It's detachment 2702 now", Lawrence says."Oh," Alan says, crestfallen. "You noticed.""It was reckless of you, Alan.""On the contrary!" Alan says. "What will Rudy think if he notices that, of all
..."notices that, of all the units and divisions and detachments in the Allied order of battle , there is not a single one whose number happens to be the product of two primes?"Continua...Nascondi
Awfully longwinded, but also very funny and, this is Stephenson after all, very clever. Several plot lines, some set decades apart, are interwoven into a clever tapestry seemingly aimed at a nerdy audience, not unlike Stephenson's Snow Crash or his
..."ash or his recent Anathem. This one actually lists an actual Perl script and seemingly mentions Finux, a non existing UNIX variant, obviously referencing Linux, on every page. The hero of the story, as in Snow Crash, is, for all intents and purposes, a nerd.
What turns out to be the main plot line involves the Japanese hiding tons of gold in a secret location in the Philippines. Funnily enough, one of the blogs I follow was talking about exactly that last week.
The sand at the surf line has been washed flat. A small child's footprints wander across it, splaying like gardenia blossoms on thin shafts. The sand looks like a geometric plane until a sheet of ocean grazes it. Then small imperfections are
... betrayed by swirls in the water. Those swirls in turn carve the sand. The ocean is a Turing machine, the sand is its tape; the water reads the marks in the sand and sometimes erases them and some times carves new ones with tiny currents that are themselves a response to the marks. Plodding through the surf, Waterhouse strikes deep craters in the wet sand that are read by the ocean. Eventually the ocean erases them, but in the process its state has been changed, the pattern of its swirls has been altered. Waterhouse imagines that the disturbance might somehow propagate across the Pacific and into some super-secret Nipponese surveillance device made of bamboo tubes and chrysanthemum leaves; Nip listeners would know that Waterhouse had walked that way. In turn, the water swirling around Waterhouse's feet carries information about Nip propeller design and the deployment of their fleets--if only he had the wit to read it. The chaos of the waves, gravid with encrypted data, mocks him.Continua...Nascondi
The room contains a few dozen living human bodies, each one a big sack of guts and fluids so highly compressed that it will squirt for a few yards when pierced. Each one is built around an armature of 206 bones connected to each other by notoriously
... fault-prone joints that are given to obnoxious creaking, grinding, and popping noises when they are in other than pristine condition. This structure is draped with throbbing steak, inflated with clenching air sacks, and pierced by a Gordian sewer filled with burbling acid and compressed gas and asquirt with vile enzymes and solvents produced by the many dark, gamy nuggets of genetically programmed meat strung along its length. Slugs of dissolving food are forced down this sloppy labyrinth by serialized convulsions, decaying into gas, liquid, and solid matter which must all be regularly vented to the outside world lest the owner go toxic and drop dead. Spherical, gel-packed cameras swivel in mucus-greased ball joints. Infinite phalanxes of cilia beat back invading particles, encapsulate them in goo for later disposal. In each body a centrally located muscle flails away at an eternal, circulating torrent of pressurized gravy. And yet, despite all of this, not one of these bodies makes a single sound at any time during the sultan's speech. It is a marvel that can only be explained by the power of brain over body, and, in turn, by the power of cultural conditioning over the brain.Continua...Nascondi