Amazingly kick-ass!

Sounding more like an overly excited twelve-year-old schoolgirl than a law professor, Eugene Volokh reflects upon the virtues of Neal Stephenson's excellent and "amazingly kick-ass" book Cryptonomicon.

I duly second the motion. One of the things about the book that really held my interest, apart from the futurist musings on crypto anarchy, is the supergenius of the protagonist, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse.

What is it about genius that I find so interesting? Take, for example, the overrated and incredibly cheesy Good Will Hunting. Despite the tiresome plot, I greatly enjoyed the character's genious for precisely the same reasons I found Waterhouse so fascinating: the naive humility, the misallocation of talent, the eventual bettering of one's peers - these are worn-out clich?s, yet they continue to entertain me.

Another, albeit semi-fictional, character is Eugene himself. He skipped highschool and went directly to college, graduating with a degree in math and computer science from UCLA at age 15.

Still, nothing tops this kid, who is beginning medical school at age 12:

From early on, his mom says it was apparent that Sho was gifted. His mother recalls trying to master a waltz by Chopin on the piano while 3-year-old Sho played with toy trains below her. Frustrated, she went to the kitchen to take a break ? and a few moments later, hurried back in amazement as she heard Sho playing the piece. By age 4, he was composing. And by age 7, he was doing high school work ? taught by his parents because they couldn?t find a school that could accommodate him. By age 8, he scored a 1,500 out of 1,600 possible points on the SAT and started college at age 9.

Amazingly kick-ass!

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I love that book, too. I

I love that book, too. I think what appeals to me is the sheer audacity of some of the things Stephenson says. I would read an outrageous portion of the book and a voice inside my head would start yelling, "Oh no he did-ent! Tell me he did NOT just write what I think he wrote! Oh no he did-ent!"

I would read that part again and another voice inside my head would respond, "Oh yes he DID!"

_Cryptonomicon_ is amazing,

_Cryptonomicon_ is amazing, but _The_Diamond_Age_ is still my personal favorite of Neal Stephenson's books. Both _The_Diamond_Age_ and _Snow_Crash_ depict semi-anarchic societies that I wouldn't mind living in at all.

Virginia, Yeah, the


Yeah, the societies in the other books were pretty cool, especially in _The Diamond Age_. What I did not like about those books were the endings, especially in TDA. The book took a strange turn with the part about the drummers.

And I think that _Cryptonomicon_ is simply on a higher plane overall. I've reread it a couple of times and I find something totally new to appreciate everytime. There are parts within parts within parts of the book that are golden by themselves - the fight at the sushi place, the ideal Capn Crunch system, the commentary on banking/gold/wealth, the natural course of self-'fulfillment', the mystery of Enoch Root, etc. It simply overflows with goodness.