I'm really loving this book, largely because I find the characters so identifiable. I'm constantly reminded, especially by the Waterhouses, of xkcd, a webcomic that is repeatedly quoted by nerds because it's so ubiquitous. The entire archives of this comic should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves to have an even remotely nerdy bent, but a few seem to speak to Cryptonomicon in particular. (Make sure you hover your mouse over the comic and read the alt-text for an additional punchline/explanation of the really obscure punchline.)
I've just thought of another way in which all four of these novels are connected. There seems to be a running motif of murder and violent attack, but the kind of attack that's unexpected and unprovoked. Reading about the Digibomber (and the Finn That Got Blown Up) reminded me of the Texas Highway Killer, which made me think of the A.F.R. and other Quebecois terrorists, and, to a lesser extent, the random and violent nature of the V2. Since all of these novels also deal in some way with war, I find all these instances of violence occurring close to home and without warning terribly fascinati
While I concede that Ferdinand is a hell of a name to render in katakana, the Japanese phonetic language used for transcribing words in other languages, I think that the translation Stephenson goes with is pretty much god awful. It really doesn't parse, no matter how hard I try. I think something like Faajinando comes a lot closer, but maybe that's just me. It just seems like sloppiness, which doesn't really fit with the meticulous construction of an encyclopedic narrative. Could he be trying to get at something with such a seemingly bad translation?
Meant to post this before the weekend, but that obviously didn't happen. Anyway.
I've noticed Slothrop undergoing some interesting character changes as we've continued. (Note: I'm not referring to the reading for today, which I haven't yet begun. Go go speed reading!) When we first meet him, he doesn't really seem emotionally connected to anyone; though he definitely has his share of human interactions, they don't seem to mean anything to him.
That starts changing when he gets to the Riviera, specifically once people start leaving him. He pines after Katje, and his anger over Tantivy's death drives him out of France. He starts to realize this change when he says goodbye to Geli: "It is taking him longer, the longer he's in the Zone, to remember to say aw quit being a sap. What is this place doing to his brain?" (338) He sticks with Margherita, despite being frightened by her obvious batshit insanity, and gets immediately and deeply attached to Bianca.
As I've been reading, I've been noticing more and more references to zeroes and ones. It seems like everything comes back to these two numbers. I'm not really sure what to make of it. Is it a science thing? After all, the most complex of computer programs boil down to machine code, which is written in binary. Perhaps it's more than that. I don't really have anything analytical on my own to say, I guess, but I wanted to point that out.
I have to preface this by saying that I didn't come up with this. Unfortunately, I forget who did. Step up and take credit!
We mentioned, in our group discussion, the bit about Roger and Jessica sharing the initials of the most famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Someone brought up another, perhaps more well-known Roger and Jessica pair: