I recently read Neal Stephenson’s 1999 test piece, Cryptonomicon, and found it good, probably one of his best. It doesn’t have an opening scene with the raw entertainment value of Snow Crash, but the book successfully interweaves several stories, spanning around 50 years and most of the globe. Stephenson creates a few sympathetic—sometimes pathetic—characters and mostly makes the technical stuff work. Indeed, the nerd in me was gratified, inspired, and intimidated by the mathematical themes.
The book suffers, as most of Stephenson’s novels do, from the lack of a fully-empowered and diligent editor. If he cut out approximately one-third the words and removed some overt gender stereotyping, the book might have made the list.