Cryptonomicon

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"There is a remarkably close parallel between the problems of the physicist and those of the cryptographer." — Alan Turing, 1948 (epigraph in Cryptonomicon)

Cryptonomicon (1999) is a novel by Neal Stephenson, which follows the exploits of two groups of people in two different time periods. One group are World War II-era Allied codebreakers and tactical-deception operatives affiliated with the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park (UK), and disillusioned Axis military and intelligence figures. The second narrative is set in the late 1990s, with characters who employ cryptologic, telecom, and computer technology to build an underground data haven to facilitate anonymous banking.

Quotes[edit]

Bobby departs Shanghai (prologue) to Randy's first visit to Kinakuta (ch. 20)[edit]

"Marcos was so smart. He had it all. It's funny; America didn't understand him." — Imelda Marcos
  • "There is a remarkably close parallel between the problems of the physicist and those of the cryptographer. The system on which a message is enciphered corresponds to the laws of the universe, the intercepted messages to the evidence available, the keys for a day or a message to important constants which have to be determined. The correspondence is very close, but the subject matter of cryptography is very easily dealt with by discrete machinery, physics not so easily."
    • Alan Turing, epigraph to Cryptonomicon. "Intelligent Machinery: A Report by A. M. Turing," (Summer 1948), submitted to the National Physical Laboratory (1948) and published in Key Papers: Cybernetics, ed. C. R. Evans and A. D. J. Robertson (1968) and, in variant form, in Machine Intelligence 5, ed. B. Meltzer and D. Michie (1969).
  • This morning [Imelda Marcos] offered the latest in a series of explanations of the billions of dollars that she and her husband, who died in 1989, are believed to have stolen during his presidency.
    "It so coincided that Marcos had money," she said. "After the Bretton Woods agreement he started buying gold from Fort Knox. Three thousand tons, then 4,000 tons. I have documents for these: 7,000 tons. Marcos was so smart. He had it all. It's funny; America didn't understand him."
    • Epigraph to Cryptonomicon, taken from The New York Times, Monday, 4 March, 1996.
  • The modern world's hell on haiku writers: "Electrical generator" is, what, eight syllables? You couldn't even fit that onto the second line!
    • Prologue (The Bund district, Shanghai, 28 November 1941)
"That should get us all into fuck-you money before we turn forty."
  • This ain't just your regular Friday p.m. Shanghai bank district money rush. This is an ultimate settling of accounts before the whole Eastern Hemisphere catches fire.
    • Prologue
  • Let's set the existence-of-God issue aside for a later volume, and just stipulate that in some way, self-replicating organisms came into existence on this planet and immediately began trying to get rid of each other, either by spamming their environments with rough copies of themselves, or by more direct means which hardly need to be belabored.
    • Chapter 1, "Barrens"
  • When Lawrence understood, it was as if the math teacher had suddenly played the good part of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor on a pipe organ the size of the Spiral Nebula in Andromeda.
    • Chapter 1, "Barrens"
  • Multiply those two things together and you get the kind of exponential growth that should get us all into fuck-you money before we turn forty.
    This is an allusion to a Randy/Avi conversation of two years ago wherein Avi actually calculated a specific numerical value for "fuck-you money." It was not a fixed constant, however, but rather a cell in a spreadsheet linked to any number of continually fluctuating economic indicators.
    • Chapter 2, "Novus Ordo Seclorum"
  • Shaftoe thinks that he has never seen, and will never see, anything as terrible as those stone-faced Chinese women holding their white babies, not even blinking as the firecrackers explode all around them. Until, that is, he looks into the faces of certain Marines who stare into that crowd and see their own faces looking back at them, pudgy with baby fat and streaked with tears.
    • Chapter 3, "Seaweed"
  • The guy in the corner kept reading poetry. For perhaps ten seconds, between the taste of the fish and the sound of the poetry, Shaftoe actually felt comfortable here, and forgot that he was merely instigating a vicious racial brawl.
    • Chapter 3, "Seaweed"
Shaftoe remains on the deck of the gunboat, which casts off from the Bund, headed for the cruiser Augusta, which awaits in mid-channel.
  • A couple of days into the voyage it becomes apparent that Sergeant Frick has forgotten how to shine his boots.…Now in and of itself this is forgivable. Frick started out his career chasing bandolier-draped desperadoes away from mail trains on the High Chaparral, for God's sake. In '27 he got shipped off to Shanghai on very short notice, and no doubt had to display some adaptability.
    • Chapter 3, "Seaweed" (this is the first appearance of "adaptability" a trait valued by both the Shaftoe family and the Marine Corps.)
  • Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse and the rest of the band are up on the deck of the Nevada one morning, playing the national anthem and watching the Stars and Stripes ratchet up the mast, when they are startled to find themselves in the midst of 190 airplanes of unfamiliar design…
    This is an incredibly realistic training exercise even down to the point of using ethnically correct pilots, and detonating fake explosives on the ships. Lawrence heartily approves. Things have just been too lax around this place…
    …Waterhouse is vaguely aware of a lot of stuff coming at him really fast.
    • Chapter 5, "Indigo" (December 7, 1941)
  • But what if it isn't that clear-cut? What if the action is one that would merely be really improbable unless the Americans were breaking the code? What if the Americans, in the long run, are just too damn lucky?
    • Chapter 5, "Indigo" (Lawrence Waterhouse contemplates the downside of an enemy code being broken)
  • "So, you're the UNIX guru." At the time, Randy was still stupid enough to be flattered by this attention, when he should have recognized them as bone-chilling words.
    Three years later, he left the Astronomy Department without a degree, and with nothing to show for his labors except six hundred dollars in his bank account and a staggeringly comprehensive knowledge of UNIX.
    • Chapter 6, "The Spawn of Onan"
"Who you talking to, Red?"
"Long story. Maybe I'll introduce you to some of them…My name is Enoch Root, but you can call me Brother."
  • Hollywood was merely a specialized bank — a consortium of large financial entities that hired talent, almost always for a flat rate, ordered that talent to create a product, and then marketed that product to death, all over the world, in every conceivable medium.
    • Chapter 6, "The Spawn of Onan"
  • Bobby Shaftoe reports back to his ship, and is not granted any more shore leave. He does manage to have a conversation with Uncle Jack, the last of the Manila Shaftoes…who has always been an odd combination of salty waterfront trader and perfumed dandy.
    When Bobby repeats the latest rumors, Uncle Jack's face collapses. No one hereabouts is willing to face the fact that they are about to be besieged by Nips. Bobby watches as he putt-putts away on his little boat…knowing that he is probably the last member of his family who will ever see Uncle Jack alive.
    • Chapter 7, "Burn"
  • The fellow has a red beard, which makes it just a bit less probable that he is a Nipponese soldier. But what is he? He prods like a doctor and prays like a priest in Latin, even. Silver hair buzzed close to a tanned skull. Shaftoe scans the fellow's clothing for some kind of insignia. He's hoping to see a Semper Fidelis but instead he reads: Societas Eruditorum and Ignoti et quasi occulti.
    "Ignoti et…what the fuck does that mean?" he asks.
    "Hidden and unknown more or less," says the man.
    • Chapter 9, “Guadalcanal”
  • Shaftoe needs morphine. He says as much to Red.
    "If you think you need it now," Red says, "just wait." He tosses his rifle to a native, strides up to Shaftoe, and heaves him up over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. Shaftoe screams. A couple of Zeroes fly overhead, as they stride into the jungle. "My name is Enoch Root," says Red, "but you can call me Brother."
    • Chapter 9, “Guadalcanal”
  • Ronald Reagan has a stack of three by five cards in his lap. He skids up a new one: "What advice do you, as the youngest American fighting man ever to win both the Navy Cross and the Silver Star, have for any young Marines on their way to Guadalcanal?"
    Shaftoe doesn't have to think very long...
    "Just kill the one with the sword first."
    "Ah...Smarrrt—you target them because they're the officers, right?"
    "No, fuckhead!" Shaftoe yells. "You kill 'em because they've got fucking swords! You ever had anyone running at you waving a fucking sword?"
    • Chapter 11, "Nightmare"
"What advice do you have for…Marines on their way to Guadalcanal?"
"…kill the one with the sword first."
  • The "sir, yes sir" business, which would probably sound like horseshit to any civilian, makes sense to Shaftoe and to the officers…a system of etiquette within which it becomes possible for groups of men to do all kinds of incredibly weird shit without killing each other or completely losing their minds.
    • Chapter 11, "Nightmare"
  • There is no in-between with these people. You have to walk a mile to find a telephone booth, but when you find it, it is built as if the senseless dynamiting of pay phones had been a serious problem at some time in the past.
    • Chapter 12, "Londinium"
  • Officers actually like it when you forget their orders because it reminds them of how much smarter they are than you. It makes them feel needed.
    • Chapter 15, "Meat"

Lawrence meets the Duke of Qwghlm (ch. 21) to Yamamoto meets his death (ch. 39)[edit]

  • Something red flickers in the mouth of the cave, shaped like the forked tongue of a reptile. Then a moving slab of living jungle explodes from the mouth of the cave and crashes into the foliage below. It is low to the ground, moving on all fours. It pauses for a moment and flicks its tongue towards the Imperial Marine who is now hobbling into the Pacific Ocean some fifty feet distant.
    • Chapter 24, "Lizard"
  • "Shit!" he says.
    "What’s wrong, Sarge?"
    "I just always say that when I wake up," Shaftoe says.
    • Chapter 24, "Lizard"
  • EXTREMELY SERIOUS WARNING
    Unless you are as smart as Johann Karl Friedrich Gauss, savvy as a half-blind Calcutta bootblack, tough as General William Tecumseh Sherman, rich as the Queen of England, emotionally resilient as a Red Sox fan, and as generally able to take care of yourself as the average nuclear missile submarine commander, you should never have been allowed near this document. Please dispose of it as you would any piece of high-level radioactive waste and then arrange with a qualified surgeon to amputate your arms at the elbows and gouge your eyes from their sockets…If you ignore this warning, read on at your peril — you are dead certain to lose everything you've got and live out your final decades beating back waves of termites in a Mississippi Delta leper colony.
    Still reading? Great. Now that we've scared off the lightweights, let's get down to business.
    • Chapter 26, "Why" (intro of mock summary of Avi's business plan template)
"We have another job for you, Marine."
"Sir! Yes sir!"
"You're going to be part of something very special."
"Sir! The Marine Raiders are already a very special—"
"I mean that this assignment is…unusual."
  • Phase n: before the ink on our Nobel Prize certificates is dry…all proceeds will be redistributed among our shareholders, who will hardly notice, since Spreadsheet 265 demonstrates that, by this time, the company will be larger than the British Empire at its zenith.....
    RESUMES: Just recall the opening reel of The Magnificent Seven.
    • Chapter 26, "Why" (conclusion of mock summary of Avi's business plan template)
  • Randy reads another message simply because of the return address: root@pallas.eruditorum.org
    On a UNIX machine, "root" is the name of the most godlike of all users, the one who can read, erase, or edit any file…professional courtesy demands he at least read this message.
    I read about your project.
    Why are you doing it?

    Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be or to be indistinguishable from self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.
    • Chapter 26, "Why"
  • Randy opens up a terminal window and types
    whois eruditorum.org
    and a second later gets back a block of text from the InterNIC:
    eruditorum.org (Societas Eruditorum)
    followed by a mailing address in Leipzig, Germany.
    Record last updated on 18 Nov 98.
    Record created on 1 Mar 90.

    The "90" jumps out. That's a prehistoric date by Internet standards. It means that Societas Eruditorum was way ahead of the game. Especially for a group based in Leipzig, which was part of East Germany until about then.
    • Chapter 26, "Why"
…But the Vickers in the back of this truck was water cooled. It actually had a fucking radiator on it. It had infrastructure.
  • In Shaftoe's post-high school experience he had found that guns…kicked back and heated up, got dirty, and jammed eventually…But the Vickers in the back of this truck was water cooled. It actually had a fucking radiator on it. It had infrastructure…and a whole crew of technicians to fuss over it. But once the damn thing was up and running, it could fire continuously for days — as long as people kept scurrying up to it with more belts of ammunition.
    • Chapter 30, "RAM"
  • Randy watches them in turn: Bad Suit Asians and Good Suit Asians. The former have grizzled buzz cuts and nicotine-tanned skin and look like killers. They are wearing bad suits, not because they can't afford good ones, but because they don't give a shit.
    • Description of Crypt clients, specifically General Wing's lieutenants, Chapter 36, "Sultan"

Lawrence discovers Rudy's code (ch. 40) to Julieta's wedding (ch. 60)[edit]

  • "...when I talk about Holocaust type stuff happening in Mexico, you give me this shit about the mean nasty old Spaniards! Why? Because history has been distorted… As the descendant of people who were expelled from Spain by the Inquisition, I have no illusions about them," Avi says, "but, at their worst, the Spaniards were a million times better than the Aztecs. I mean, it really says something about how bad the Aztecs were that, when the Spaniards showed up and raped the place, things actually got a lot better around there.”
    • Chapter 46, "HEAP"
  • He hears the flint of Julieta's lighter itching once, twice, thrice behind his ear. Then her chest pushes him up as her lungs fill with smoke.
    • Chapter 52, "Meteor"
Randy types whois eruditorum.org

record created on 1 Mar 90

The "90" jumps out…prehistoric by Internet standards. It means that Societas Eruditorum was way ahead of the game.
  • "Haven’t seen Enoch Root recently. Did he get the radio transmitter to work?"
    "Beats me," Shaftoe says, "but when big pieces of burning shit start falling out of the sky in my neighborhood, makes me wonder."
    • Chapter 52, "Meteor"
  • Doug has spread out miscellaneous contents on a tabletop to be photographed and cataloged. Ex-Navy SEAL Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe has, at the peak of his career, become a sort of librarian.
    • Chapter 53, "Lavender Rose"
  • "So we suspect his name was Rudolf von Hacklheber," Doug Shaftoe says.…"There was a man by that name who wrote a couple of mathematics papers back in the thirties. And there are some organizations in and around Leipzig, Germany, that use the name…a defunct reinsurance company."
    Doug pings one fingernail against a glass tray full of a transparent liquid. An envelope, unglued and spreadeagled, is floating in it.
    Randy bends over and peers at it. Something has been written on the back in pencil…Randy flips the envelope over…It says:
    WATERHOUSE LAVENDER ROSE.
    • Chapter 53, "Lavender Rose"
  • World-class cereal-eating is a dance of fine compromises. The giant heaping bowl of sodden cereal, awash in milk, is the mark of the novice. Ideally one wants the bone-dry cereal nuggets and the cryogenic milk to enter the mouth with minimal contact and for the entire reaction between them to take place in the mouth… The next-best thing is putting only a small amount in your bowl and eating it all up before it becomes a pit of loathsome slime, which takes about thirty seconds in the case of Cap'n Crunch.
    • Chapter 56, "Crunch" (portions of the chapter were also published as a short story by the same name in Disco 2000, 1999)
  • Aging Filipinas in prom dresses have come and gone across the lobby of the Manila Hotel for as long as Randy has known the place…Pursuing an explanation for every strange thing you see in the Philippines is like trying to get every last bit of rainwater out of a discarded tire.
    • Chapter 56, "Crunch"
It goes without saying that the Finns have to have their own sui generis brand of automatic weapon.
  • When Waterhouse returns from work that evening, he blunders into the parlor and interrupts Mrs. McTeague having tea with a young lady…Mary Smith…a petite girl dressed in a uniform.
    She is the only woman Waterhouse has ever seen. She is the only other human being in the universe actually, and when she stands up to shake his hand, his peripheral vision shuts down as if he has been sucking on a tailpipe.
    Mrs. McTeague, knowing the score, bids him sit down.
    Mary averts her eyes from his and when she swallows there is a certain cord in her white neck that stands out for a moment. Her skin, as unmarked as clear water, is an extravagant display of vibrant animal power. He wants his tongue on it.
    She sees him looking at her, and swallows again. She may just as well have caved his head in with a stone and tied his penis round a hitching rail. The effect must be calculated. But apparently she has not ever done it to anyone else, or there would be a band of gold round her ring-finger.
    • Chapter 57, "Girl"
  • Enoch Root has an old cigar box on his lap. Golden light is shining out of the crack around its lid…which contains the stuff Shaftoe wants: not morphine. Something better than morphine. Morphine is to the stuff in the cigar box what a Shanghai prostitute is to Glory. The box flies open and blinding light comes out of it.
    • Chapter 58, "Conspiracy"
  • "I ran statistical analyses of convoy sinkings and U-boat attacks," von Hacklheber said. "Certainly if they were smart enough to break the Enigma they would be smart enough to conceal the fact…It all came down to lengthy and tedious work."
    Shaftoe cringes, wondering what something would have to be like in order to qualify as lengthy and tedious to this joker.
    "It was obvious that Detachment 2702 was in the business of deceiving the Wehrmacht by concealing the fact that the Enigma had been broken."
    When von Hacklheber explains this, everything that Detachment 2702 ever did suddenly makes sense.
    • Chapter 58, "Conspiracy"
Insignia of the Ghost Army, or 23rd HQ Special Troops (tactical deception) was a real-world Detachment 2702 that misdirected the Wehrmacht.
  • Von Hacklheber shrugs and looks at the burning tip of his cigarette. "You expect them to throw all those Enigma machines away because one mathematician writes a paper?"
    • Chapter 58, "Conspiracy"
  • Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring makes his way towards the rear of the train. His body is about as big as the hull of a torpedo boat, draped in a circus tent sized Chinese silk robe…He has the largest belly of any man Rudy has ever seen, and it is covered with golden hair that deepens as the belly curves under, until it becomes a tawny thicket that completely conceals his genitals. He is not really expecting to see two men sitting here eating breakfast, but seems to consider Rudy and Angelo's presence here to be one of life's small anomalies.
    • Chapter 58, "Conspiracy"
  • Give those Finns a grim, stark, bleak moral dilemma and a bottle of schnapps and you could pretty much forget about them for forty-eight hours.
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket"
  • "If you're trying to say that my relationship with the Church is very complicated, I already knew that, Bobby.”
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket" (Enoch Root)
  • Two large black Mercedes issue from the forest, like bad ideas emerging from the dim mind of a green lieutenant. Germans climb out and stand up. This is the moment, then. Nazis are right over there and it is the job of Bobby Shaftoe to kill them all…because they are the living avatars of Satan, who publicly acknowledge being just as bad and vicious as they really are.
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket"
  • Ask a Russian engineer to design you a shoe, and he'll give you something that looks like the box the shoe came in. Ask him to design something that will slaughter Germans, and he turns into Thomas fucking Edison.
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket"
[Göring's] body is about as big as the hull of a torpedo boat, draped in a circus tent sized Chinese silk robe.
  • Root drifts off into a coma, mumbling something about cigars…
    Rudy is nowhere to be found, and Shaftoe suspects he has blown town. But then suddenly he shows up at Root's bedside holding an ancient Cuban cigar box, Spanish words all over it.
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket"
  • Swedish people are beginning to come out of their houses. They look exactly like American midwesterners, and Shaftoe's always startled when they fail to speak English.
    • Chapter 60, "Rocket"

Lawrence is punched at a dance (ch. 61) to Goto exits Golgotha (ch. 81)[edit]

  • "Hey, friend!" says Mary's date. Waterhouse turns towards the sound of the voice. The sloppy grin draped across his face serves as a convenient bulls eye, and Mary's date's fist homes in on it unerringly.
    • Chapter 61, "Courting"
  • Father John snaps awake, and Mr. Drkh looks as if he's just taken a fifty caliber round in the small of his back.
    Clearly, Mr. Drkh has had a long career of being the weirdest person in any given room, but he's about to go down in flames.
    • Chapter 64, "Organ"
  • In general, Waterhouse isn't good at just winging it, but he's tired and pissed off and horny, and this is a fucking war, and sometimes you have to. He mounts the podium, dives for a round of chalk, and starts hammering equations onto the blackboard like an ack-ack gun.
    • Chapter 64, "Organ"
  • Many of the females wouldn’t talk to him it all, or would come near him only the better to fix him with frosty glares and appraise his presumed new girlfriend. This only stands to reason, since, before she left for Yale, Charlene had the better part of a year to popularize her version of events. She has been able to structure the discourse to her advantage, just like a dead white male.
    • Chapter 65, "Home"
  • Weirdly, the ones who adopted the sternest and most terrible Old Testament moral tone were the Modern Language Association types who believed that everything was relative and that, for example, polygamy was as valid as monogamy. The friendliest and most sincere welcome he’d gotten was from Scott, a chemistry professor, and Laura, a pediatrician, who… had one day divulged to Randy, in strict confidence, that they had been spiriting their three children off to church every Sunday morning, and even had them all baptized…Even if they thought he had done something evil, they at least had a framework, a sort of procedure manual, for dealing with transgressions.
    • Chapter 65, "Home"
He pretends to admire it from the side, and then flips it over to read the words glazed on the bottom.
ROYAL ALBERT
LAVENDER ROSE.
  • The hot rod's trunk is a ferrous, oily chasm all a'bang with tire chains, battered ammo boxes, and, unless Randy's eyes are playing tricks on him, a pair of samurai swords.
    • Chapter 68, "Caravan." 300-year-old Shaftoe family heirlooms "reappear" (although this is their first appearance in a published work by Neal Stephenson)
  • M.A. is a pretty straightforward by the book type, the kind who'll get good grades and fit well into any kind of hierarchical organization. Robin, on the other hand, is more of a wild card. He has the makings of either a total loser or a successful entrepreneur. Randy has spilled a hell of a lot of information to Robin, in just a couple of days, about digital currency and the new global economy. Randy's mental state is such that he is prone to babbling aimlessly for hours at a time. Robin has hoovered it all up."
    • Chapter 68, "Caravan" (description of cousins Marcus Aurelius Shaftoe and Robin Shaftoe, resembling their distant Shaftoe forbears, Bob and Jack, in Quicksilver)
  • "I mean," Randy says, "from the general attitude they copped, when they fishtailed to a stop in the middle of my front yard…obviously the number one mission objective was to ensure that the flower of Shaftoe womanhood was being treated with all of the respect, decency, worshipfulness, et cetera, properly owed it.”
    "Oh. That's not really the vibe that I got…my family sticks together. Just 'cause we haven't seen each other for a while doesn't mean our obligations have lapsed.”
    • Chapter 68, "Caravan."
  • "'Scuse me, General, Bobby Shaftoe reporting for duty, sir!"
    "And who the hell might you be, Bobby Shaftoe?" says this general, hardly batting an eye. This guy actually has a German accent!
    "I've killed more Nips than seismic activity…I know Manila like the back of my hand. My wife and child are there. And I'm kinda at loose ends. Sir!"
    In London, in D.C., he'd never have gotten this close, and if he had, he'd have been shot or arrested. But this is SOWESPAC, and so the next morning he's on a B-17 bound for Hollandia, wearing Army green, no rank.
    • Chapter 69, “The General”
"The name of this place is Bundok," Captain Noda tells Goto confidently. "We have chosen it carefully." Five rivers sprawl from its triple summit.
  • "Oh, the gravy boat!" Randy’s mom exclaims, and hoists up something that is more of a heavy cruiser than a boat…He pretends to admire it from the side, and then flips it over to read the words glazed on the bottom.
    ROYAL ALBERT
    LAVENDER ROSE.
    • Chapter 70, "Origin"
  • Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse's widow and five children agree that Dad did something in the war, and that's about all. There is not even agreement on whether he was in the Army or the Navy, which seems like a pretty fundamental plot point to Randy. Was he in Europe or Asia? Opinions differ.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
  • Until she had gotten too old to drive, Grandmother had continued to tool around Whitman in the 1965 Lincoln Continental, which was the last vehicle her husband had purchased, from Whitman's Patterson Lincoln Mercury, before his untimely death. Whenever any of her offspring came to visit, someone would discreetly slip out to the garage to yank the dipstick, which would always be mysteriously topped up with clear amber colored 10W40. It eventually turned out that her late husband had summoned the entire living male lineage of the Patterson family — four generations of them — into his hospital room and wrought some kind of unspecified pact with them…
    So ever since, guerilla mechanic teams had been swiping her Lincoln from the church parking lot on Sunday mornings and taking it down to Patterson's for sub rosa oil changes. The ability of the Lincoln to run flawlessly for a quarter of a century without maintenance — without even putting gasoline in the tank — had only confirmed Grandmother's opinions about the amusing superfluity of male pursuits.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
Grandmother [Waterhouse] had continued to tool around Whitman in the 1965 Lincoln Continental, which was the last vehicle her husband had purchased.
  • "One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for many people, is not that he's socially inept — because everybody's been there— but rather his complete lack of embarrassment about it."
    "Which is still kind of pathetic."
    "It was pathetic when they were in high school," Randy says. "Now it's something else."
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
  • Chester's eyebrows go up. Amy glances out the window; her hair, skin, and clothes take on a pronounced reddish tinge from Doppler effect as she drops out of the conversation at relativistic velocity.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
  • Your younger nerd takes offense quickly when someone near him begins to utter declarative sentences, because he reads into it an assertion that he, the nerd, does not already know the information being imparted. But your older nerd has more self-confidence, and understands that people need to think out loud.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
  • "I don't even know when they got married," Randy says. "Isn't that horrible?"
    "September of 1945," Amy says. "I dragged it out of her."
    "Wow."
    "Girl talk."
    "I didn't know you were even rigged for girl talk."
    "We can all do it."
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
New Guinea is a nasty-looking piece of work: a gangrenous dragon with a wicked, rocky spine. Shaftoe can plainly see that such a country could only be conquered by a man who was completely fucking out of his mind.
  • Grandmother has always had this knack for telling people the obvious in a way that is scrupulously polite but that makes the recipient feel like a butthead for having wasted her time.
    "It is, uh, I think, kind of unusual," Randy says, "for a man to be in both the Army and the Navy during the same war. Usually it's one or the other.”
    "Lawrence had both an Army uniform and a Navy uniform," Grandmother says, in the same tone she'd used to say he had both a small intestine and a large intestine, "and he would wear whichever one was appropriate.”
    "Of course he would," Randy says.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle"
  • They have been in suspended animation for more than fifty years, stored on a dead medium, and now Randy is going to breathe life into them again. If they flourish, it should make Randy's life a little more interesting. Not that it's devoid of interest now, but it is easier to introduce new complications than to resolve the old ones.
    • Chapter 72, "Seattle" (Randy Waterhouse ponders a crate of punched cards found in his late grandfather's attic.)
  • "That time in Seattle was a fucking nightmare. I came out of it dead broke, without anything except a girlfriend and a knowledge of UNIX."
    "Well, that's something," Avi says. "Normally those two are mutually exclusive."
    • Chapter 74, "The Most Cigarettes"
Randy hangs up and the phone rings again almost immediately.
"Who the fuck are you?" Doug Shaftoe says, "I call you on the airplane, and I get a busy signal."
  • "I think it's better to aspire to having Amy than to actually have Charlene," Avi says. "Sometimes wanting is better than having."
    • Chapter 74, "The Most Cigarettes." (Avi paraphrases a line by TV screenwriter Theodore Sturgeon, spoken by the character Spock in a 1967 episode of Star Trek: The Original Series)
  • He has the mysterious physical strength that seems to be common among bald men, and he has a kind of mesmerizing leadership power over the other Chinese. He somehow manages to get them excited about moving the boulder.
    • Chapter 73, "Rock" (description of Wing, a Chinese prisoner in a secret Japanese excavation site in the Philippines and future Red Army general)
  • It is so disorienting to have one's phone ring on an airplane that Randy doesn't know what to make of it for a while.
    When he finally has the thing turned on and at his ear, a voice says, "You call that subtle? You think that you and Doug Shaftoe are the only two people in the world who know that Sultan Class passengers can receive incoming phone calls?"
    Randy is certain he's never heard this voice before. It is the voice of an old man. Not a voice worn out or cracking with age, but a voice that's been slowly worn smooth, like the steps of a cathedral.
    • Randy's first voice conversation with "root@eruditorum.org"; Chapter 78, "Pontifex"
"That son of a bitch had soldiers and Marines crawling over Luzon, supposedly on training missions…I think they were looking for the Primary." — D.M. Shaftoe
  • "You should be a billionaire, Randy. Thank god you're not.”
    "Why do you say that?”
    "Oh, because then you'd be a highly intelligent man who never has to make difficult choices, who never has to exert his mind.”
    • Chapter 78, "Pontifex" (Randy's grandfather, Lawrence Waterhouse, never attempted to patent his innovations in computing technology.)
  • Randy hangs up and the phone rings again almost immediately.
    "Who the fuck are you?" Doug Shaftoe says, "I call you on the airplane, and I get a busy signal."
    • Chapter 78, "Pontifex"
  • According to their family lore, the first Shaftoes to come to America worked as indentured servants in tobacco and cotton fields. As soon as they could get away, they did, and headed uphill. The mountains of Luzon beckon Shaftoe in the same way away from the malarial lowlands, up towards Glory.
    • Chapter 79, "Glory"
  • "Jesus! Can't you recognize bullshit? Don't you think it would be a useful item to add to your intellectual toolkits to be capable of saying, when a ton of wet steaming bullshit lands on your head, 'My goodness, this appears to be bullshit'?"'
    • Chapter 80, "The Primary" (Doug Shaftoe, speaking with the Epiphyte II Corp. principals in Kinakuta)
”But this is not so bad," Attorney Alejandro says, radiating insincerity like a mirrored ball in a disco.
  • "You know something?" fires back Doug. "During the Vietnam war, which was Old Man Comstock's brainchild, the American military presence in the Philippines was huge. That son of a bitch had soldiers and marines crawling over Luzon, supposedly on training missions. But I think they were looking for something. I think they were looking for the Primary.”
    • Chapter 80, "The Primary"

Randy's arrest (ch. 82) to Randy on covers of Time and Newsweek (ch. 102)[edit]

  • Another thing he did this morning was to download the current version of the Cryptonomicon from the ftp server where it lives in San Francisco. Randy's never looked at it in detail, but he has heard it contains samples of code, or at least algorithms, that he could use to attack Arethusa. With luck, the very latest public code breaking techniques in the Cryptonomicon might match up to the classified technology that Pontifex and his colleagues were employing at the NSA thirty years ago.
    • Chapter 82, "Bust"
  • The sample messages used [in the Cryptonomicon] are like ONE PLANE REPORTED LOST AT SEA and TROOPS HAVING DIFFICULTY MAINTAINING CONNECTION WITH FORTY FIFTH INFANTRY STOP which Randy finds kind of hokey until he remembers that the book was written by people who probably didn't know what "hokey" meant, who lived in some radically different pre-hokiness era where planes really did get lost at sea and the people in those planes never came back to see their families…
    Randy feels like a little shit when he thinks about this stuff.
    • Chapter 82, "Bust"
“Athena, the supernatural chick with the helmet, is of course nonexistent, but 'Athena' the external generator of the internal representation dubbed Athena by the ancient Greeks must have existed back then, or else the internal representation never would have been generated. And if she existed back then, the chances are excellent that she exists now."
  • "Someone is trying to send you a message," Attorney Alejandro says, scant minutes into his first interview with his new client.
    Randy's ready for it. "Why does everyone here have these incredibly cumbersome ways of sending me messages? Don't you people have e-mail?"
    • Chapter 84, "Captivity"
  • "You know what this is? It's one of those men-are-from-Mars, women-are-from-Venus things."
    "I have not heard of this phrase but I understand immediately what you are saying."
    "It's one of those American books where once you're heard the title you don't even need to read it," Randy says.
    "Then I won't."
    • Chapter 84, "Captivity"
  • The General continues, as if he were reading this from a script. "And now, when I least expect it, I encounter you, here, many leagues distant from your assigned post, out of uniform, in a disheveled condition, accompanied by a Nipponese officer, violating the sanctity of a ladies' powder room! Shaftoe, have you no sense whatsoever of military honor? Do you not respect decorum?"
    • Chapter 85, "Glamor"
  • "Who's the lady in the middle? The Virgin Mary?" Randy asks.
    Root fingers the medallion without looking at it, and says, "Reasonable guess. But wrong. It's Athena.”
    "The Greek goddess? How do you square that with Christianity?"
    "When I phoned you the other day, how did you know it was me?"
    "I don't know. I just recognized you."
    "Recognized me? What does that mean? You didn't recognize my voice."
    "Is this some roundabout way of answering my question?"
    • Chapter 88, "Metis"
  • And then there is Dionysus, who isn't even fully a god — he's half human, but gets to be in the Pantheon anyway and sit on Olympus with the Gods, as if you went to the Supreme Court and found Bozo the Clown planted among the justices.
    • Chapter 88, "Metis"
"I think we can still agree that something a little peculiar was going on with the nativity of Athena."
  • "Now in many other mythologies you can find gods that have parallels with Athena,” Enoch says. “The Sumerians had Enki, the Norse had Loki. Loki was an inventor god, but psychologically he had more in common with Ares…Native Americans had tricksters — creatures full of cunning like Coyote and Raven — in their mythologies, but they didn't have technology yet, and so they hadn't coupled the Trickster with Crafts to generate this hybrid Technologist god…Cunning people tend to attain power that uncunning people don't. And all cultures are fascinated by this. Some of them admire it… Others, like the Norse, hate it and identify it with the Devil."
    "Hence the strange love-hate relationship that Americans have with hackers," Randy says.
    "That's right. But something different happened with the Greeks. The Greeks liked their geeks. That's how we get Athena."
    • Chapter 88, "Metis"
  • People smell all kinds of ways before they have burned, but only one way afterwards.
    • Chapter 89, "Slaves"
  • Goto Dengo inquires about how Randy and Avi got into their current lines of work, and how they formed their partnership. This is a reasonable question, but it forces them to explain the entire concept of fantasy role-playing games. If Randy had known this would happen, he would have thrown himself bodily through a window instead of taking a seat. But Goto Dengo instantly cross-correlates it to developments in the Nipponese game industry…By the time he's finished, Goto makes them feel like geniuses who were ten years ahead of their time.
    His English started out minimal and is getting better and better…as if he is slowly dusting off substantial banks of memory and processing power, nursing them on-line like tube amplifiers.
    • Chapter 95, "Goto Sama"
  • "Gold is the corpse of value," says Goto Dengo.
    "I don't understand."
    "If you want to understand, look out the Window!" says the patriarch, and sweeps his cane around in an arc that encompasses half of Tokyo. "Fifty years ago, it was flames. Now it is lights! Do you understand? The leaders of Nippon were stupid. They took all the gold out of Tokyo and buried it in holes in the ground in the Philippines! Because they thought that The General would march into Tokyo and steal it. But The General didn't care about the gold. He understood that the real gold is here—" he points to his head "—in the intelligence of the people, and in the work that they do. Getting rid of our gold was the best thing that ever happened to Nippon. It made us rich. Receiving that gold was the worst thing that happened to the Philippines. It made them poor."
    • Chapter 95, "Goto Sama" (present day)
"Gold is the corpse of value," says Goto Dengo. "If you want to understand, look out the Window!"
  • "But before this war, all of this gold was out here, in the sunlight. In the world. Yet look what happened." Goto Dengo shudders. "Wealth that is stored up in gold is dead. It rots and stinks. True wealth is made every day by men getting up out of bed and going to work. By schoolchildren doing their lessons, improving their minds. Tell those men that if they want wealth, they should come to Nippon with me after the war. We will start businesses and build things."
    • Chapter 96, "R.I.P." (Goto Dengo to Enoch Root, 1945)
  • An idea springs out of his forehead fully formed, with no warning. This is how all the best ideas arrive. Ideas that he patiently cultivates from tiny seeds always fail to germinate or else grow up into monstrosities. Good ideas are just there all of a sudden, like angels in the Bible. You cannot ignore them just because they are ridiculous.
    • Chapter 98, "Crib" (Lawrence Waterhouse)
  • Enoch Root spends some time alone with Amy and suddenly her leg gets a lot better. He explains that he applied a local folk remedy, but Amy refuses to say anything about it.
    • Chapter 102, "Liquidity"
  • Someone arrives from the outside world and convinces Randy he's on the cover of both Time and Newsweek. Randy doesn't consider it to be good news…It did not enter his calculations that being on the cover of newsweeklies, and people standing in the jungle holding banners with his name on them, would in any way characterize his life. Now he never wants to leave the jungle.
    • Chapter 102, "Liquidity"

External links[edit]

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Cryptonomicon - The Ultimate Computer Geek Novel Reading Aides