Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Paperback - May 2000)
Our Price: $12.80 / Average Customer Review:
The basic review is this; if you like Neal Stephenson, you are going to like
If you like a book that teaches you interesting things while telling you a story, which I
do, the material on cryptography, history, and the cutthroat world of micro-corporate
entrpreneurialism is going to fascinate you. I loved Stephenson's description of the
"business plan" so much I had to plop the book on the scanner and make copies of
the pages to send to a friend who happens to be working on such a startup. You'll
understand the refernce to the "business plan" when you read it for yourself.
Stephenson is a serious and devoted researcher for the material in his books, and his
building of the content of the ficticious world he creates is top notch. His characters
and plot, tho, are not up to the high standards of Diamond Age, or the flash of Snow
Crash. In fact, I would say this is his weakest book as far as characterization and plot
Something that is a real hoot about the book, an inside story of the thing, could only be
understood by someone who was part of the EARLY INTERNET, the text internet of mailing
lists and usenet before the World Wide Web changed everything with its www. Stephenson
builds into the plot a fair amount of material and shenanegins involving the Perfect
Strangers (A mysterious radical High-Tech Libertarian nouveau riche net group) and the
eutrophians, another even higher tech net group. These groups were, I dare to say, modeled
after two well known EARLY INTERNET mailists, the cypherpunks and the extropians. I was a
member of both groups and recognize the material.
Don't know who the cypherpunks and the extropians are/were? The net is a mysterious
Funny thing, I bought Diamond Age in hardcover when it first came out, because of the
glowing reviews of it made by other members of Extropy and the Cypherpunks.
Oh, whats the story about? The creation of the first true anonymous datahaven on a small
south pacific kingdom. A datahaven is like an anonymous swiss bank on the net, except that
anyone can use it, not just the rich guys. Well, these net entrepreneurs sort've fall into
the possibility of setting one up, are nearly crushed by the powers-that-be, and save
themselves from ignominy, get the girl, and kick net ass with the saving grace of a
mountain of nazi gold.
All made possible by higher mathematics and the wonderous properties of prime numbers and
public key encryption.
I liked it, and can't wait to get it out of my head, so I can read