Neal Stephenson
Cryptonomicon Cover



It's not often I meet a book that really, really bowls me over: possibly the first was Robert A Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land; then came his Time Enough for Love, and Frank Herbert's Dune, and Lord of the Rings – all in the same year.

Roger Zelazny mesmerised me next, with Lord of Light, then Larry Niven's Ringworld – all in the 1970s, mind you – and then there was a gap. Of years.

There has been a revolution in recent times, that's every bit as profound as the New Wave of the early 70s: it's the advent of hard science fiction writers who can really write, and are doing so superlatively well.

One such is Neal Stephenson: I first read stories by him in collections; then came Snowcrash – and I was hooked. Little did I know, however, that Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle series followed… and that I would be swept away on a tide of such well-imagined fantasy, that it was hard to surface – and I never wanted it to stop. U-boats, strange gold, cryptography, Alan Turing, Isaac Newton, and what amounts to magical realism reinterpreted.

Stunning. Simply stunning.