Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
Since the year as well as the target is coming to an end – I decided to pick up a challenging book thrown my way by a very close friend. As the title suggests – its a 1140 page book written by a geek who has written all kinds of Science Fiction related stuff (read very heavy stuff) and is looked up big time by the Science Fiction Fraternity (if anything of that sorts exists). His novels have been categorized as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, postcyberpunk, and baroque. Stephenson’s work explores subjects such as mathematics, cryptography, linguistics, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. So basically I got a little hang of it from Wiki that what I was getting into, had no idea how far I will go as it looked like a challenging subject and book to me. But I had no idea before I started reading this one that it could be so freaking mindbogglingly amazing work – simply unputdownable after you have read the first chapter or even the introduction. How and why I got this book? My friend saw my review(s) of Dan Brown and told me that this will open up more avenues as well as simplify Dan’s works when I read this masterpiece on Cryptography and I simply got hooked to it as this guy looks like the Daddy of Dan Brown (personal opinion) as he is way ahead of his own time.
It is written in two parallel tracks with first one (the most interesting one) happening during the course of second world war between 1942-1945 and the second one (the more interesting one) happening in current time. One thing that kept a smile on my face almost throughout the narrative is the characters as going by their last names its pretty clear that what the grandfathers were doing in WWII is going to get their grandsons and daughters rewarded in a huge way. Amazing is the way it is written with so much science, maths and cryptography yet at no point of time it becomes confusing or not so clear to someone who has any deep knowledge of the subjects, rather it is very interestingly told. I have seen so many war movies in the past specially World War epics and this one reminded me at least of half a dozen movies based on that era. Like the action taking place inside a Submarine reminded me big time of “U-571” that tells exactly the same story. Also the most recent critically acclaimed movie “The Imitation Game” and its main character “Alan Turing” is one of the main characters of this book too with two of his esteemed colleagues from Princeton who are responsible for the whole “Cryptonomicon” drama and the making of the Crypt with all the codes. They are the best of the best code breakers from WWII as well as makers and how they use their knowledge to change the course as well as outcome of the war makes up for one heck of a supreme story.
Although it is a Science Fiction but there is no way I can believe that it isn’t based on the real happenings from that time when the author has named so many real time people in such a humorous and interesting way. The making of the Crypt (Worlds first data haven) and the making of the bunker at the same time (but in the past) is totally thrilling. The way story keeps going in the past with every chapter and keeps coming back in current time – and the way it all leads to the finale is simply mind-blowing. The way it covers the WWII and The Pearl Harbor attack is simply outstanding as I kept reading the book – my mind kept throwing me the visuals of the same seen in so many movies in the past – it was too good. It is indeed unbelievable to know what kind of research will be required to come out with this kind of a detailed story which leaves nothing unturned – kept me impressed throughout. The love stories in between, the hilarious sex life of the geeks, thrilling interactions with the enemies of new kinds, Fictional countries with their own kinds and their agendas. It actually covers so much in such great and minute details that you don’t mind the size of the book. Even after reading 1100+ pages I will call it a book with a very abrupt and heartbreaking ending, I was actually looking to so much more when it all ends but its one heck of an ending – no doubt on that (Perfect).
Its a must must read for all science fiction and war story lovers – totally hooking stuff.
I will definitely look forward to his other works now.