Sunday, February 6

Cryptonomicon

I have recently finished reading "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson, kindly lended to me by Marius. To begin with, it was quite a bit thicker than I'd like (almost a thousand pages), but in the end this book was worth the time.

I think there is no point in retelling the plot, as you can find that in lots of places. In fact, I think that it was not quite top-notch. Most of the book feels a little sluggish and I could not see where things were going. Only the last hundred pages were really interesting plot-wise for me. I might have been happier, had the remaining part been shorter.

This book seems to excel at style, however. Stephenson is not afraid to spend lots of time describing elaborately crafted environments and delving into details. There is a fair bit of intelligent humour and sarcasm thrown in.

There are some geeky parts, about computers and cryptography, that made me slightly uneasy. Some I might consider insulting my intelligence, like the large sections about modular arithmetic or simple text transformations. The scenes concerning computers seemed out of place somewhat (why would I care if Randy was writing a bash or a Perl script, or what UNIX commands he was typing?). Maybe it's just me because I have a technical background, perhaps Stephenson just paid these details as much attention as he did to the non-technical ones.

Frankly, I do not have much to compare the book to, so take my comments with a grain of salt. Personally, I found the book quite enjoyable.