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Cryptonomicon

Cryptonomicon (ISBN 0060512806) is a sprawling novel by Neal Stephenson that is more a combination of historical fiction and contemporary techno-thriller than the science fiction of Stephenson's earlier works. It follows the parallel saga of cryptographers from World War II (see U-413, U-553, U-691, Enigma, Alan Turing) and their descendants attempting to use modern cryptography to build a data haven in a fictitious East Asian island state and the political machinations that follow both efforts.

Cryptonomicon is notably heavy going for non-technical readers in parts. Several pages are spent explaining in detail some of the concepts behind cryptography, for example. Stephenson even includes the details of a real, near-unbreakable cypher algorithm, developed by Bruce Schneier, as part of the plot. Despite this, the book drew praise from both Stephenson's science fiction fan base and literary critics and buyers.

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