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Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon was first published in 1999 to immense critical and popular acclaim. An ambitious, absorbing account of war, conspiracy, and code breaking, it represented a huge step forward for a gifted writer whose previous creations included the Hugo Award-winning The Diamond Age and the virtual reality classic, Snow Crash.
The events of Cryptonomicon take place along two parallel time tracks: the Second World War and the present day. The earlier segments feature, among others, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, a young math prodigy tasked with concealing the fact that Allied forces have successfully broken Germany's infamous Enigma code. Protagonists of the latter section include Randy Waterhouse, Lawrence's grandson, a computer hacker helping to construct an autonomous 'data haven' in the Sultanate of Kirakuta. Together, these two narratives successfully illuminate two different worlds, one of which grew directly out of the struggles and achievements of the other.
Sometimes horrific, frequently hilarious, densely packed with information on a wide variety of subjects, from cryptanalysis to treasure hunting to the proper method of eating Cap'n Crunch, Cryptonomicon is a genuine modern epic. On one level, it is an astonishing, wholly original portrait of a world at war. On another, it is a provocative meditation on the ways that science and technology help shape--and alter--the course of human history. A work of great erudition and equally great imaginative power, it is--and will remain--one of the significant literary accomplishments of the modern era.
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Neal Stephenson enjoys cult status among science fiction fans and techie types thanks to Snow Crash, which so completely redefined conventional notions of the high-tech future that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if his cyberpunk classic was big, Cryptonomicon is huge... gargantuan... massive, not just in size (a hefty 918 pages including appendices) but in scope and appeal. It's the hip, readable heir to Gravity's Rainbow and the Illuminatus trilogy. And it's only the first of a proposed series--for more information, read our interview with Stephenson.
Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods--World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first.... Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed.... Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."
All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe--team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.
Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea, or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto--all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). --Therese LittletonAbout the Author:
Neal Town Stephenson is the author of Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Zodiac. Born on Halloween 1959 in Fort Meade, Maryland -- home of the National Security Agency -- he grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Ames, Iowa, before attending college in Boston. Since 1984 he has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and has made a living out of writing novels and the occasional magazine article.
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Book Description Subterranean, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111596064331
Book Description Subterranean. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1596064331 Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Seller Inventory # XM-1596064331
Book Description Subterranean, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1596064331
Book Description Subterranean, Burton, MI, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Limited Edition. Collectible/Gift Quality. Flawless brand new Limited Edition (#113 of 500) hardcover and dust jacket SIGNED by Neal Stephenson on the special dedication page without inscription. A superb collector's edition from Subterranean including great dust jacket artwork by Patrick Arrasmith. Very collectible. I will wrap it in layers of bubble-wrap and will ship it in a sturdy box with much padding to make certain it arrives in pristine condition. This is a very heavy book so shipping outside of the United States would require extra funds. Signed by Author(s). Seller Inventory # ABH1382