I’m trying to read The Cryptonomicon, based on dozens of conversations over the years that revolve around it and how awesome it is. I bought it the same day as I bought Quicksilver 4 years (ish) ago, for a song (AU$3). Quicksilver was so tedious that I never bothered with this book. But I just had one too many not-conversations while someone waxed lyrical about it at Dagger’s last party that I decided it needed to be done.
It probably didn’t.
The core material is fine: much more engaging than Quicksilver, and I find a couple of the characters interesting. But the writing is so shit that it’s a real struggle to make consistent progress. He treats his characters so much at arms length that sometimes it seems as if everything you know about them is from inference. And there are many times when he builds some dramatic tension to the point where actually start to engage with the story and wonder “what WILL happen next”… and then when he cuts back to that strand the climax has been cut and we’re into the aftermath, or the after-aftermath. Which is frustrating.
And the little tangents to discuss various physics and crypto concepts are boring. 95% of it is stuff I already know, and his laboured explanations, clearly targeted at a layman with no technical background whatsoever, are at best condescending.
Fortunately, it’s just a fore-taste of the manifest failings of Quickilver and so I think I’ll probably make it to the end, but I’d better have some fucking fantastic conversations about it in the future to get a nett pleasure gain from the experience.