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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: Tunneling (134 comments)

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  •  Tunneling... (12+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of what Neal Stephenson does in his novels like Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle.  

    In Cryptonomicon, he focused on the various ways that encryption was used in world war II and the kinds of people that worked on it -- without getting us bogged down in a wonky history.  Instead, he teaches us an enormous amount of history on the subject while leading us on a very entertaining hunt for Nazi gold.  I tell you, Nazi gold can keep any book from becoming wonky.  

    In the Baroque Cycle, he focused -- tunneling, tunneling -- on a few different subjects, but mostly on (and, oh god, doesn't this sound dreary) the economic system of Europe during the late 17th century.  Instead, we get to meet a gay and paranoid (from mercury fumes) Isaac Newton who is obsessed with alchemy -- turning lead into gold -- pirates on the high seas, including Blackbeard, a harem girl who is rescued and becomes a courtesan to Louis XIV, and a man trying to invent for Liebniz and Peter the Great a mechanical computer that operates off of what are essentially punched binary cards made of gold.

    I tell you, any wonky story that isn't fixed by Nazi gold can be fixed by pirates and harem girls.  

    Neal Stephenson is one hell of a smart guy.  He leaves me in awe.

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