Review: Cryptonomicon

Cryptonomicon is a book 3 months in the reading!  I feel pretty bad about that, particulary that the only reason I finished it now is because I’m going away for the weekend and I wanted to be able to pack something lighter.

But don’t let my difficulty in reading it give you the wrong impression, there’s a reason this is one of the key novels in many circles from the last decade.  The novel jumps back and forth between a dozen or so different characters and two time periods (the end of WWII and the present day) to show the story of a stockpile of Japanese gold and the birth of modern cryptography (with some asides into the development of the computer, the life of Alan Turing and crypt construction for good measure).

The only real problem with the epic here is that Stephenson sometimes forgets he’s writing a novel and not a textbook.  This is one of the most exposition heavy novels I’ve ever encountered.  Although given the purpose of the story that’s mostly forgivable, especially since Stephenson is often able to take complicated mathematical concepts and make them both easy to follow and thoroughly fascinating.  This is especially prasieworthy as math is my worst subject by far.

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