The Cryptonomicon

I just finished reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. It's a daring story with lots of characters and parallel plots all revolving around cryptography, gold treasure hunting and second world war action. This in itself is not really compelling. What is though, at least for me, is that this is a book by a geek for geeks and about geeks. It's written by a geek because Stephenson has a way of playing language kungfu that seems to scream look at my wits/IQ and goes off on weird tangents all the time. It appeals to the inherent multi-tasking addiction in your average nerd in that you can ponder some off-hand remark and fancy idea thrown at you in a subordinate clause while continuing through the main thread. It's written for geeks - who else would want to read detailed descriptions of crypto-systems as part of a novell? But that's actually besides the point. The real reason is that geekdom is characterized so well in this book that you could actually use it as a definition. The leading characters are all more or less socially inept almost to the point of autists or Asbergers and at the same time math geniouses living in their own alternate realities. I laughed out loud at a scene at a dinner table where Randy, chronically forgetting all the unimportant details about the people around him, like - say - names, blurts into the discussion after enduring silently for a while and turns it into a heated debate. The sarcastic remark is that "normal" people flock into "consent groups" soon-after, because a real argument is too strenuous. And it's about geeks... well, just take the title for a hint. I really enjoyed it.

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