Reading this book was a lot like riding in a car that steadily picks up speed and then stalls out. I wanted to like it a great deal more than I ended up doing.
I would be trucking along, really getting into
it, starting to get eager about turning the page and finding out what
was going to happen next, and then...some reference to "hairy-legged
academic feminists" or the "Ejaculation Control Commission" or "those
things women always say to manipulate men" and my enjoyment would come
to a screeching halt.
Okay, the second one was a little funny,
at first, until the character went on to explain in great detail how
women run the world to prevent men from ejaculating in anything but
approved receptacles. With no obvious sense of satire.
Since I'm a
feminist, and an academic, who sometimes has hairy legs, depending on
whether I remember or care on any given day, this was less than fun. It
was frustrating as hell to have a story I was enjoying interrupted about
once every two hundred pages for a little diatribe on how
feminists/women/the PC police were ruining the men they encountered.
know, like the digression where one of the main characters writes that
he's sure that the "PC police" would call him going on a date with a
woman rape, since, although she asked him, she was the daughter of a guy
whose company had been contracted to do some work for the main
character's company. Not just sexual harassment, rape.
much, Neal Stephenson? Come up with a bullshit thing you think the "PC
police" would say, and then destroy that bullshit argument, again and
again? This, sir, is a logical fallacy.
Look, I'm not saying
that academic wanking is unknown. Goodness knows it exists. But dude,
you're a writer. Are you trying to tell me you think self-indulgent
masturbatory writing is restricted to academia? Really?
So all of
the aforementioned kept taking the wind out of my sails, and every time
it happened, it took longer to get my enthusiasm up again, which made
reading this book a very bumpy 1131 page ride.
Outside of this
major issue that pretty much spoiled the book for me, there were some
good things here. The story was a little overlong, but when I was into
it, it was very enjoyable. The chess game of World War II cryptography
was fascinating. The male characters were fairly engaging, when they
weren't pissing me off. High tech business strategies as they played out
through the book kept my attention.
This story takes place
across two time periods, World War II and the present, and involves
secrets, codes, and a very large hidden pile of gold.
interesting story here. It occupies most of the book. But the things
that bothered me took me so aback that they spoiled huge swathes of my
reading. And it was frustrating, because the misogyny had exactly zero
to do with the story, and contributed exactly nothing to the plot.
That's a large part of the reason it kept taking me by surprise, the
first two or three times I ran across these sections. They are few and
far between. But why the hell are they there in the first place?
I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees