Yeah, this. I agree with the other points you made about it as well.
I don't do alot of audiobooks, and usually when I do they're short books, but I listened to clips of the Baroque cycle and the readings sound great, and different for the different books, so I might do the audio versions of those if I like the other books. But assuming I keep enjoying them, I'd probably read The Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon, Anathem, and Seveneves first.
Locus Magazine, a sci-fi magazine where the average age of a reader is 45 (for whatever that fact is worth) picked Anathem as the second best sci-fi book of 2000-2012, after Old Man's War. As I said, I haven't read Anathem yet, but from what I've heard about it I find this paring funny. Old Man's War is a very old-fashioned military SF book, about a future where old people can get young new bodies but they have to serve in the military after they do it, that I found insufferable stale and boring. That seems like a strange pairing. I don't generally perceive their lists as being some sort of tug-of-war between two factions.
All Stephenson's non-cowritten novels from Snow Crash through Anathem made the 20th or 21st century list, and all of them except Snow Crash won that magazines' Sci-Fi novel of the year when they came out. Snow Crash lost to The Doomsday Book, which is much less important but which I enjoyed more than Snow Crash.