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I just finished listening to Cryptonomicon for the second time. Cryptonomicon, published in 1999, is eerily prescient of the technological developments since then. Written at the dawn of the Internet it presages digital banking, digital encryption, and global telecommunications.

Cryptonomicon is a fascinating mix of historical fiction, science fiction, and techno-thriller. It follows two timelines – one in World War II, the other present day. The World War Two timeline follows the exploits and adventures of real and fictional characters involved in formulating and breaking the Nazi and Nipponese codes used to send vital wartime communications. The present day timeline follows what one quickly learns are the descendants of the WWII cast of characters who are building a data crypt and associated digital infrastructure in the Phillipines and Sultanate of Kinkuta. The past and present are woven together in a fine tapestry.

Neal Stephenson is at his best in Cryptonomicon. It is filled with action, suspense, and humor. A good read and a better listen. This is a must-read book for devotees of Stephenson, WWII, cryptology, and the Internet. I give it four thumbs up.

3 thoughts on “Cryptonomicon

  1. I love that novel, love the audiobook as well! Brilliant classic Stephenson. Ages very well even after fifteen years. (Possibly the only thing out of date is the video technology before Youtube)

    Also predicted Bitcoin 🙂

    The WWII scenes are incredible

    I can’t wait to read Seveneves…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have seen several sources state that it “also predicted bitcoin”. After listening to the unabridged book twice, I fail to hear where it said that. It definitely predicted large block cryptographic encryption. If anything, l would say rather that it predicted BitGold (global Internet banking backed by gold) … of which I will have more to say in future posts.


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