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Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

Reamde: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Neal Stephenson (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0661822,771 (3.89)224
Title:Reamde: A Novel
Authors:Neal Stephenson (Author)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Reprint, 1056 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

  1. 100
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (mhcityplanner)
  2. 80
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Anonymous user)
  3. 70
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Anonymous user)
  4. 40
    Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (Galorette)
  5. 30
    For the Win by Cory Doctorow (kjforrest)
    kjforrest: Both books cover gaming, gold farming and economics in an interesting way. For The Win is much shorter and a better read, but Reamde is good too.
  6. 20
    Halting State by Charles Stross (infiniteletters)
  7. 00
    The Bloodline Feud: A Merchant Princes Omnibus by Charles Stross (Anonymous user)
  8. 00
    Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (themulhern)
    themulhern: There has been some talk about Stephenson's female characters and some assertion that he is anti-feminist. My feeling is that he is, perhaps, writing his female characters as "bad feminists" in the sense that Roxane Gay uses that term in this collection of essays.… (more)

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» See also 224 mentions

English (180)  German (3)  French (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
This was one long techno-thriller. Stephenson's books are usually a good deal weirder and I missed that. The ninjas didn't even show up, though you'd think I'd be satisfied with hackers, Russian mafia, Al-Qaeda terrorists and various other gun-nuts. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
UPDATED from a low 4 to a mid-low 3 stars after taking a week to ponder this book. It really feels like a wasted opportunity to explore the original REAMDE premise whilst simultaneously dragging the reader through largely pointless plot contortions.

It's hard to compete with Stephenson's Cryptonomicon so this book started out in a precarious position for me.

Obviously it's one of the longest books you'll find on the shelf at over 1000 pages. That inherently demands an ability to keep the reader engaged throughout to prevent them losing faith and abandoning the tome midway.

Reamde definitely sets out to do that. It feels a like the entire cast of Guess Who have been pitched into a Bourne/Bond/Bruce Willis bouillabaisse and stirred violently.

The result is mostly successful in the first third or so. The plot zips along well initially and most of the characters have good definition although the non-native English speakers unleash some surprisingly advanced dialogue which punctures their believability.

A couple of major drawbacks kept this well out of the 5 star category for me and (after some consideration) off the lower end of 4 stars:

The plot really wasn't that clever. The initial premise was great, but past about half way it's really just a heavily interwoven action romp. There are only so many ways to describe handling and firing various models of gun before it feels like watching the YouTube recommendations of a 15 year old Texan. Briefly engaging? yes; satisfying? not really.

Secondly, the quality control of the ebook edition. It really is poor and brought the book down to 3 mediocre stars. In a book this length I would expect a few typos, perhaps 4 or 5 at most. I highlighted 24 in total. Twenty four. That's more than one every fifty pages. Bizarrely the errors appear in seams, with 'of' and 'off' being muddled 5 or 6 times in 60 pages, then never again confused. After a run like that it can be difficult to get your head out proof-reading mode. I think my favourite may have been a "multinational feet of small jets".

Overall: entertaining start, but dragged on - nothing life-changing ( )
  Sam.Prince | May 7, 2019 |
Ridiculous, bordering on preposterous, almost a farce, but sadly insufficiently over the top to actually be a farce, and so it's just bad. Gamer SF has been a thing for a considerable time, and terrorist adventure is a cliche. Smashing them together into a tome via coincidence and luck is just shoddy and does neither any favours. Detail, as ever is not Stephenson's hallmark, and he manages to display many instances of failing in this regard as usual. He does have a wondrous visions which has granted his other SF works some acclaim. Sadly there appears to be only one concept involved here, which is that a multi-player game could be designed such that it's fun to play and still have a deliberate appeal to script-kiddies looking for easy money. Rather than explore any consequences of this, the rest of the book is an utterly stupid last man standing terrorist shoot out, where all the guys end up with a girl of their choosing. It's trite, stereotyped, annoying and lazy.

The plot, such as it is, is that Richard having drifted through various careers including a secluded US/Can border crossing has founded a successful online MUD similar to WoW and made his fortune by allowing entrepreneurs to mine game currency for real USD. The boyfriend of his niece accidentally gets a PCvirus from that game, that corrupts a russian mafia's finance scheme. The russians kidnap him and Richard's niece and seek revenge on the chinese hackers who'd written the virus. This operation accidentally involves a jihadist operation in the same city, and they all flee back to the US and the secret crossing into Canada. Whereupon the farce becomes more evident as five separate groups crawl around the mountains all trying to shoot each other. It's just silly.

Some of the detailed errors that just jar completely beyond my suspension of disbelief (yours may vary) were such as: Guns and ammo being repeatedly dunked in seawater and firing completely well, despite all characters noting the importance of keeping barrels out of mud at other times; a human hunting cougar (just about believable) having made a kill then continuing on to hunt past several more corpses as if it didn't already have months of food in front of it; perhaps worst of all being able to find an in game character prepared to swap millions of real USD for in-game currency of limited utility and not even for in-game artifacts; nearly everyone has an utterly inhuman pain tolerance as well being able to run on broken limbs having being repeatedly shot or buildings dropped on them.

It's too long, not good enough, stereotyped bordering on racist and lacking in innovation or joy. It's not totally without merit, and the plot rattles along fast enough without too much tedious exposition of his earlier works, but you can't sustain 1000 pages of rattle. The coincidences rack up beyond unlikely into stupid, and the characters lack any kind of depth at all, being over trusting incapable of surprise and capable of surviving utterly extreme levels of pain and wounding without suffering or impeding their movements. Although this is perhaps slightly less bad than his worst writings, I would recommend you read Diamond Age and Snow Crash, and then find a better author to spend 1000 pages with. Ready Player One for gamer SF and maybe Tom Clancy for terrorism techno-thrillers. Both combined are fewer pages. ( )
  reading_fox | Apr 24, 2019 |
This story has a bit of everything - an imaginative computer game world, Russian gangsters, hackers, credit card fraud, Islamist terrorists, action spanning 5 countries, and the involvement of several law enforcement & intelligence agencies all of which combine in to one compelling story which unfolds from the seemingly dull beginning of a family reunion in rural Iowa where Richard Forthrast seemingly isn't too keen on being present for, or at least the social interactions it requires.

As the story unfolds a boyfriend of a cousin gets involved in credit card fraud, which draws in the involvement of Russian gangsters who are then screwed over by a computer virus which originates in China and decide to take the cousin hostage to unravel the virus problem. From here events slowly become more complicated, imaginative and widespread. Before long the threads of the story begin crisscrossing and the story builds to a ending which I felt was very good.

At 1,044 pages it's quite lengthy and in parts detailed, however overall I felt the story was excellent and the world it portrayed was the sort that makes you lament that the story is over. Having read and also enjoyed Cryptonomicon I will certainly be keeping an eye out for any other Neal Stephenson books I may come across. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Apr 13, 2019 |
If you have never read Neal Stephenson, this may be a great place to start. Reamde is a nuts and bolts techno-thriller that will have you turning pages and cancelling appointments all the way through its 1000 pages.

It goes something like this. Richard Forthrast is a former pot smuggler with a castle on the Canadian side of the US border. In his middle age, Richard has made a substantial fortune as the creator of a MMORPG called T'Rain. Richard's adopted niece is called Zula. She once walked across Eritrea. A computer virus called Reamde causes havoc within the game of T'Rain and even more havoc in the real world.

The plot plays out over 20 days during which time we meet a homicidal Russian gangster and an honourable Russian security consultant. We journey across the world with a Hungarian IT expert and a Chinese video game hacker. We fall in with a brace of spies, one British of Chinese origin, one American of Irish origin. We encounter a slew of Jihadists led by a Welsh autodidact named Abdallah Jones. We travel from Seattle to Xiamen, China and back to Canada. On the way there are side plots in Taipei, Manila, Cambridge and the Torgai Hills in the gameworld of T'Rain. It's pretty manic and almost completely unputdownable, a feat which is mirrored in the book by several online game sessions that last for hours and often require characters to pee in buckets so they never have to leave their seats.

In the past I have read Cryptonomicon and all two and a half thousand pages of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy. I don't think Reamde has quite the literary sophistication of those enjoyable works, but at the same time it's a more accessible book that functioned as a perfect holiday read. But, make no mistake, Stephenson-lite is still a more erudite and thrilling experience than almost any other popular novelist I can think of.

In Reamde, fingers fly across keyboards as bullets fly across continents. Hackers hack, spies spy and terrorists terrorize. Richard and Zula Forthrast make two of the most unlikely heroes and they seem, at least to this jaded reader, as unlike the usual crop of thriller protagonists as it is possible to imagine. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
All of Stephenson's fiction has thrilling moments (and as his novels tend to be big, those moments can go on for many, many pages), but this is the first of his books that is nothing but a thriller, one that will sit comfortably on shelves weighed down by, say, the complete works of Robert Ludlum.
added by dcozy | editThe Japan Times, David Cozy (Nov 27, 2011)
"Like Stephenson's most critically acclaimed novel, Cryptonomicon, Reamde combines meticulous observation of the stranger socioeconomic effects wrought by technology with rousing fusillades of adventure."
added by bookfitz | editThe Guardian, Miller Laura (Oct 7, 2011)
Sci-fi geeks flock to the master's wildly complex novels -- but his latest, "Reamde," is maddeningly conventional
added by bertilak | editSalon, Andrew Leonard (Sep 19, 2011)
"Stephenson’s control of these multifarious plotlines is remarkable, as is his evocation of settings as disparate as a 21st-century boomtown in southern China, a remote island in the Philippines, a survivalist compound in Idaho and Wal-Mart."
REAMDE, Stephenson's latest novel [...] is a book that represents a new kind of equilibrium in Stephenson's literary canon: a book that is simultaneously as baroque as System of the World and as cleanly and crisply finished as Anathem. It is, in other words, a triumph, all 980 pages of it
added by r.orrison | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Sep 14, 2011)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hillgartner, MalcolmReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iacobelli, JamesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Richard kept his head down.  Not all those cow pies were frozen, and the ones that were could turn an ankle.
"Fate has given us a totally awesome foe." -Qian Yuxia
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Book description
Four decades ago Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of his Iowa-based family, fled to a wild and mountainous corner of British Columbia to avoid the draft. Quickly realizing that he could make a lot of fast cash carrying backpack loads of high-grade marijuana across the border into Northern Idaho he began to amass an enormous and illegal fortune. Living an affluent but lonely and monotonous life in B.C., Richard became addicted to the online fantasy game World of Warcraft and like many serious players of the game he also fell into the habit of purchasing viral gold pieces and other desirables from Chinese gold farmers—young men who make a living playing the game and accumulating virtual weapons and armor that can be sold to American and European buyers who have more money than time. Luckily for Richard, it was the perfect opportunity to launder his aging hundred dollar bills and begin a new business venture to further expand his fortune.

Now the head of a major computer gaming group called Corporation 9592 with its own super-successful online fantasy game, T’Rain, Forthrast is caught in the center of a global thriller and a virtual war for dominance that is accidentally triggered by a young gold farmer.
Haiku summary
A fast-paced thriller
Hackers, mobsters, terrorists
Done Stephenson-style


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When his own high-tech start up turns into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family who has amassed an illegal fortune, finds the line between fantasy and reality becoming blurred when a virtual war for dominance is triggered.… (more)

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