Tag Archives: Neal Stephenson

Boar Hunting on the Brazos

That’s how I spent my afternoon.

Neal Stephenson’s new book, TERMINATION SHOCK, arrived today and we’re off to a flying start. Well, maybe not a completely successful flying start. In the first few pages, the private plane’s pilot, who also happens to be the Dutch queen, lands smack on the back of a herd of very large wild boars. This, as you would guess, proves to be a poor flight plan for both the boars and the Boer.

I now find myself looking over the shoulder of a Comanche Ahab on a vengeful prowl for Moby Pig in a drone-equipped pick-up. I’ve already learned what a “dually” is. I kinda want one.

Gimme another few pages and I may become your go-to for information you’ve been craving about the introduction and subsequent loss of control of European wild boars in Waco. Talk about your invasive species! If one must choose between pythons, Japanese beetles, kudzu, and Bradford pear trees…wouldja take wild boars? I’ll let ya know.

About the turn of the millennium, my delightfully bright friend Ave Lawyer mentioned how much she enjoyed a book she had recently read by a writer named Neal Stephenson; CRYPTONOMICON. I read it and was hooked. Ave moved on to twenty more authors as she inevitably does. I was happily stuck and for 20 years I have devoured each of Mr. Stephenson’s books ravenously, and basked in wonder and sometimes befuddlement.

Along the way I have learned so much…

  • I’ve learned techniques for permanently disabling underwater open sewer pipes in Boston Harbor.
  • The orbital dynamics of efficiently hooking up with a captured comet spun me for a loop, but I cheerfully went along for the ride.
  • I have followed the path of Schrodinger’s cat, and thus have a more nuanced understanding of why those witches of Salem may been scorched.
  • The history of cables and cabling I’ve mastered…just as the world goes wireless.
  • I have many interesting facts about coinage history, currency (current and crypto), and gold (Solomonic and Fort Knoxian). I know much about money…without having much.
  • I now know the practical intricacies of insect worship in India and fully understand why it has not caught on.
  • I now feel positively conversational with Norse deities in a way that Wagner never conceived.
  • The history of urban coffee vending is no longer mystery to me…and, I suppose, I now realize that it once was.
  • I have confirmed that Jack of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and Appalachian Jack Tale fame is someone I would be proud to be one day…and simultaneously, be afraid every day to stand too near.

Wow.

I’m sure I’m a better person for all this education.

Next page, please.