Finished the Cryptonomicon. Awesome, just awesome. Neal Stephenson can't write dialogue to save his soul, but his science-fiction concepts are so wholly original it doesn't really matter. This book takes place during World War II and the 1990s each chapter jumping between the two timelines. The book itself is focused on the development of cryptography and it's application in WWII and the early internet bubble. What I really enjoyed about this book was that the science-fiction wasn't in your face, but it still was very much present. It's almost as if Stephenson wants to educate you on how cyper-security really works while simultaneously entertaining you.
He spends a ton of time explaining how cryptography works early on (the whole thing with Alan's bike chain, for instance, is a primer on single-rotor cryptographic algorithms) and freaking you out with math, then settles down to tell a series of epic stories that all pile together. If you don't get goosebumps during the dinner in Tokyo--I won't be more specific to avoid spoilers, but those of you that have read it know what I'm talking about--you're not human.
Read the Baroque Cycle next--they're loosely connected. The first half of Quicksilver
is incredibly boring the first time (took me six weeks of grinding to get through it, then blazed through the other 2 1/2 books in no time) and full of lush and surprisingly relevant details every time after. Once you get past Jack on the hill (you'll know when you get there) it's all downhill, and the payoff is...wow. It's so sprawling and ridiculous and amazing I always want to pick back up the first book after I finish the third.