Jul 23, 10
Geeks, nerds and those who like them
Read in August, 2008
This was truly an exciting and mind-blowing book, a thrilling story that was a tour-de-force on a range of intellectual subjects. It's very nerdy, and Stephenson's hardcore fan base is clearly among the geek or nerd population. Hey, I'm one, and I found it hard to not be enthusiastic reading this work, all 1,130 pages of it. If I had one criticism, it would be that there is but one well-rounded characterization of a female in the entire book, and she is a love interest of one of the central protagonists. If you are interested in espionage, cryptography, information theory, computer science, physics, world history, philosophy, or the sociology of highly talented but socially awkward people (like mathematicians, computer geeks, top engineers, etc.) you will find loads of interesting material in this story. The book even includes an appendix that explains a manual crypto-system that is used in the book, where the key is generated using an ordinary deck of cards. There's a working Perl script in the text to generate pseudo-random numbers, much discussion of the zeta function and its importance for code generation, in-depth discussions of mining engineering, a storyline revolving around Alan Turing and the development of the digital computer....
All this is told in very clear, understandable language, in the context of an exciting blood-and-guts story of war, love, and riches. This is a great read, I hope you enjoy it!