Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Cryptonomicon black hardback Cryptonomicon (1999)
2000 Locus Award - Best SF Novel
A New York Times Notable Book

Avon books hardback (left)
Perennial trade paperback (right)
Jacket design by Amy Halperin
Cover Illustration by Karen Moskowitz
910 pages + 8 page appendix
Cryptonomicon gold trade paperback

From the inside cover of the hardback:
       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 Waterhouse and Detachment 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 granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with it's 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.

Read for group discussion on December 13, 2000

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 10 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 10 Barb 9
Aaron - Cynthia 10
Ron 9 Jackie -

Our book group has also read the following books by Neal Stephenson:
-- Snow Crash  in June 1996
-- The Diamond Age  in April 1997
-- Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller   in April 1999

Neal Stephenson (1959-     ) is a US writer.

1996 Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Diamond Age

Science fiction and genre related books
Stephenson's first novel was The Big U (1984). It's set at the fictional American Megaversity where a strike escalates into an off-the-wall campus war. It was very difficult to find, before it was reprinted in 2001.

Zodiac (1988) follows the adventures of an environmental activist based in Boston who tracks down illegal polluters.

Snow Crash (1992), which is becoming a modern classic of science fiction, is a cyberpunk-ish book that features a dangerous computer virus, virtual reality, The Mafia, and pizza delivery.

The Diamond Age; or, A Young Lady's Primer (1995) is a complex novel of nanotechnology, neo-Victorianism, and Eastern vs. Western methodology. It's set in the future near Shanghai China.

Cryptonomicon (1999), which is over 900 pages long, combines World War II stories of code breaking and survival with a modern story about creating a data haven in Southeast Asia.

The Baroque Cycle trilogy of books, which are loosely connected to Cyptonomicon, doorstopper sized, and more mainstream fiction than genre science fiction are: Quicksilver (2003), The Confusion (2004), and System of the World (2004).

Anathem (2008) is speculative fiction set in on a future world.

Other Books
The thrillers Interface (1994) and The Cobweb (1996) by Stephen Bury are collaborations of Neal Stephenson and his uncle George Jewsbury.

Stephenson also wrote the essay about computers In the Beginning...Was the Command Line.

Our book club's page for Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson - Wikipedia
Salon magazine - deep code - an interview with Neal Stephenson (1999)
Dreams & Nightmares of The Digital Age - article by Neal Stephenson (1997)
The SF Site: A Conversation with Neal Stephenson (1999)
Neal Stephenson's home page
Slashdot | Review: Cryptonomicon
The SF Site Featured Review: Cryptonomicon
The Complete Review - Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson Cryptonomicon - an infinity plus review review Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson review Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
Locus Online Neal Stephenson interview (1999)
Locus Online: Neal Stephenson interview excerpts (2004)

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This page was last updated October 21, 2008