No historical subplot. Still somewhat military-fetish: lots of guns, and we damn well better know their model numbers. Guns are, however, not magic wands: several times it's a plot point that guns need to be handled correctly, and characters who practice a lot and know their limitations do better than characters who don't. I was reminded specifically of Clarice Starling in Silence of The Lambs (the book; I don't recall the movie emphasizing as strongly that she had her shit together gun-wise).
Neal tried hard not to come off as writing a
* passes Bechdel Test a bunch of times
* female heroines: three viewpoint characters, one principal
* no punishment for sex
* depiction of complex emotions: viewpoint characters have different personalities and histories and behave differently in difficult situations, though they all Man Up/Woman Up promptly as required
though he still pairs characters off heterosexually, and it still rather works as a Guy Book.
If you're never heard of Neal Stephenson: characters are exaggerated to a somewhat comic-booky degree; heroes Mary Sue-y; Chekov keeps leaving his guns all over the place; the occasional absurd coincidence is supplied where needed to advance the plot. Fun nevertheless if you like thrillers, are reasonably in touch with modern society, and laugh at many of the same sort of jokes I do.