Cover of Cryptonomicon

Romance

After reading through Cryptonomicon, I'm struck by what a romantic book it is in places. Avi is a thouroughly modern Jewish man who is quite devout and has a deep love for his wife.

Bobby Shaftoe is, although not faithful, always longing for his girlfriend, Glory, in the Philippines. (It is interesting to note that he dies a glorious death in the Philippines.)

Randy Watterhouse comes to recognise, albeit slowly, that America Shaftoe (Bobby's granddaughter), wants him and wants him to be himself. His releationship with here is honest and she eschews all games.

America, unlike Randy's previous girlfriend, doesn't read romance novels. But, also unlike his intellectual ex, she doesn't have a problem admitting what she wants from Randy.

Spirituality

I'm impressed that the author, Neal Stephanson, managed to incorporate characters who have a strong religious component in their lives without treating them like idiots. At the same time, the novel isn't about their religion, which makes it disctinct from religious literature.

I especially identified with Avi. Though we don't see a lot of them in the book, he has several small children and the harried wife and messy house that comes with them. His religion has a strong influence on his relationship with his wife as well as the work he does.

We see Christianity's influence on Goto Dengo, the Japanese fighter pilot. He feels humilated because his captor's treat him well and help him recover — their relative kindness, he's convinced, is a ploy to convert him to Christianity. Ultimatly, he does convert and is baptised and we see him at his baptism: "Do you reject the glamor of evil and refuse to be mastered by it."

When I came to that point in the book, I was reminded of my children's baptism, and reading those words caused me to do some self examination — something quite impressive considering that this is a popular piece of science fiction, not a devotional. I think it speaks well for Mr. Stephanson's writing that he does not fall into many of the contemporary sterotypes when writing.

Recommended

Although this book weighs in at over 900 pages, I highly recommend it. Cryptonomicon draws you in and keeps you there during the whole book.