2009-10-18 01:34 pm

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Yowza. A story about a World War II cryptographer, a marine, a Japanese engineer, and fifty years later a software entrepreneur whose work turns out to depend on all of theirs.

Tremendously long and convoluted, with a plot that, well. See, it's quite silly in places, particularly the end, but that really doesn't matter because the point of this book is not the plot. This is one of those books where you just hang on and enjoy the journey through 1100 pages of math, and phreaking, and structural engineering, and military tactics, and academia, and electronic currencies, and I could go on. The whole thing is delivered in that straight-faced absurdist style Stephenson can do until the cows come home. What I'm saying is it's a ridiculous, enormous, wandery book with no real oomph to the through line and a lot of extra baggage, but I enjoyed the hell out of every page. Even the ones that hurt to read, and there were a few of those. The shameless glee with which this book flings itself down and just rolls around in its own piles of geekiness is infectious, and the way it's sad and hilarious and tragic just adds spice.

Ooh. That was nice. A big commitment, but yeah, that was nice.

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2009-10-18 03:41 pm

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #32) Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Discworld. Unseen University gets a football team, a university cook gets a chance to be repeatedly awesome, and an abused child just gets a chance.

I was looking forward to this book because hi, Discworld. And it was a pleasure to read, sure. But it's sort of like he took all the bits of a really great Discworld book – an extremely smart heroine, an absurd cultural artifact, people with something to prove – and assembled the whole thing, but then forgot to, I don't know, strike the match. There are a number of hilarious or wonderful or sad moments here, but there's no real unifying spark. It's still a very good book by generalized standards of 'things I want to read,' but judging against Pratchett himself . . . no, just not quite.

That, and okay, I just don't give a damn about football. I give an anti-damn, actually.

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