Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Author:Neal Stephenson
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub, azw3
ISBN: 9780061792571
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2003-02-19T05:00:00+00:00

Randall Lawrence Waterhouse

Current meatspace coordinates, hot from the GPS receiver card in my laptop:

27 degrees, 14.95 minutes N latitude 143 degrees, 17.44 minutes E longitude

Nearest geographical feature: the Bonin Islands


* * *

JULIETA HAS RETREATED somewhere far up beyond the Arctic Circle. Shaftoe has been pursuing her like a dogged Mountie, slogging across the sexual tundra on frayed snowshoes and leaping heroically from floe to floe. But she remains about as distant, and about as reachable, as Polaris. She has spent more time lately with Enoch Root than with him—and Root’s a celibate priest or something. Or is he?!

On the few occasions Bobby Shaftoe has actually gotten Julieta to crack a smile, she has immediately begun to ask difficult questions: Did you have sex with Glory, Bobby? Did you use a condom? Is it possible that she might have become pregnant? Can you absolutely rule out the possibility that you have a child in the Philippines? How old would he or she be right now? Let’s see, you fucked her on Pearl Harbor Day, so the child would have been born in early September of ’42. Your child would be fourteen, fifteen months old now—perhaps just learning to walk! How precious!

It always gives Shaftoe the willies when tough girls like Julieta get all fluttery and slip into baby talk. At first, he figures it’s all a ruse to keep him at arm’s length. This smug gler’s daughter, this atheist guerilla intellectual—what does she care about some girl in Manila? Snap out of it, woman! There’s a war on!

Then he comes up with a better explanation: Julieta’s pregnant.

The day begins with the sound of a ship’s horn in the harbor at Norrsbruck. The town is a jumble of neat, wide houses packed onto a spur of rock that sticks out into the Gulf of Bothnia, forming the southern shore of a slender but deep inlet lined with wharves. Half the town now turns out beneath an unsettling, turbulent peach-and-salmon dawn to see this quaint harbor being deflowered by an inexorable steel phallus. It comes complete with spirochetes: several score men in black dress uniforms stand on the top of the thing, lined up neat as stanchions. As the blast of the horn fades away, echoing back and forth between the stony ridges, it becomes possible to hear the spirochetes singing: belting out a bawdy German sea chanty which Bobby Shaftoe last heard during a convoy attack in the Bay of Biscay.

Two other people in Norrsbruck will recognize that tune. Shaftoe looks for Enoch Root in his church cellar, but he is not present, his bed and lamp are cold. Maybe the local chapter of Societas Eruditorum holds its meetings before dawn—or maybe he’s found another welcoming bed. But trusty old Günter Bischoff can be seen, leaning out the window of his seaside garret, elbows in the air and his trusty Zeiss 735 binoculars clamped over his face, scanning the lines of the invading ship.

The Swedes stand with arms folded for a minute or so, regarding this apparition.


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