The Baroque Cycle books were a prequel, of sorts, to Cryptonomicon. In World War II, Lawrence Waterhouse is an American cryptographer, a peer of Alan Turing, and someone who will be the father of the digital computer; while Bobby Shaftoe is a US Marine who works on black ops. Now, Randy Waterhouse, computer nerd and Lawrence’s grandson, is setting up a data haven in the Pacific. Amy Shaftoe, Bobby’s granddaughter, and her father, Doug, are marine salvage experts working for Randy, who find a gold-filled Nazi submarine off the Philippines. Somehow, the events of the past and the present will come together, as the narrative bounces back and forth.
Randy, Lawrence, and Bobby all hold our interest as the viewpoint moves between them. Lawrence and his peers break the secret codes of the Germans and the Japanese; Randy’s data haven uses cryptography to safeguard data from modern governments. Bobby ultimately just wants to rejoin his girlfriend and son in Manila.
Cryptonomicon is an effective combination of nerdiness and thriller, and a definitive portrayal of geeks in fiction.