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Author: Neal Stephenson
Written earlier than “The Baroque Cycle,” this book contains two story lines with characters that obviously were the descendents of Waterhouse and Shaftoe from “The Baroque Cycle.” Part of the book is set during WWII, where Lawrence Waterhouse, mathematical genius, is part of a super-secret military intelligence unit devoted to convincing enemies that we had not broken their codes, when indeed we had. For instance, to make it seem plausible that we knew the location of a German convoy traveling in dense fog, Waterhouse directs an elite military force to pretend to be a lost fishing vessel and “bump” into the convoy. That elite military unit is led by Bobby Shaftoe, a Jarhead descended from Jack Shaftoe of “The Baroque Cycle.” The other story line concerns Randy Waterhouse, computer hacker extraordinaire, in the late 20th century. He and his hacker brethren set out to set up a zone of unfettered information exchange on a remote Pacific Island completely free of government oversight. Much like “The Baroque Cycle,” the multiple story lines weave and unweave with each other. This novel is tighter than “The Baroque Cycle” and is a very well-written cyber-historical adventure. If you have the patience, I recommend reading “The Baroque Cycle” first, because it is great fun to find allusions to “The Baroque Cycle” in .