Stephenson’s latest is best skipped, frankly. It’s a turgid mismash of unearned and unplausible coincidences stapled together with NS’ trademark deep-dive research. Unlike his prior works, which typically used a fine story (“ripping good yarns,” even) to explore some other topic (nanotech, cyberspace, monetary development, etc.), this time it’s a scattershot explosion of whatever stuck on the wall — MMORPG gaming, money laundering, international terrorism, great circle air traffic planning, immigration, firearms, drug smuggling, northwestern geography, and Eritrean adoptees.
No, really. It’s kind of a mess, and feels lacking in the craft I found in even the more self-indulgent portions of the Baroque cycle, or Anathem.