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Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

Reamde: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Neal Stephenson

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1,924None3,540 (3.89)123
Title:Reamde: A Novel
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 1056 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

2011 (24) 2012 (20) 21st century (12) adventure (22) audiobook (17) Canada (13) China (35) computer games (23) cyberpunk (25) ebook (47) fantasy (12) fiction (234) gaming (33) hackers (25) hardcover (14) Kindle (42) MMORPG (17) novel (26) read (24) science fiction (170) Seattle (14) sf (38) signed (13) speculative fiction (15) technothriller (14) terrorism (30) terrorists (25) thriller (95) to-read (88) unread (12)
  1. 50
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (mhcityplanner)
  2. 40
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Anonymous user)
  3. 40
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Anonymous user)
  4. 20
    Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (Galorette)
  5. 20
    Halting State by Charles Stross (infiniteletters)
  6. 10
    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.

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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

"Fate had given us a totally awesome foe."

When Richard Forthrast was young, he was the black sheep of the family. It seemed like he was wasting his brain by playing videogames and smuggling dope across the Canadian border instead of pursuing more dignified and intellectual occupations. But then he turned his money, knowledge and skills to the development of his own MMORPG called T’Rain. He hired a kid with Asperger’s syndrome to construct a realistic and meticulously detailed planet and brought on two famous fantasy authors to develop the world’s language, history, and mythos. Because of his own experience in underground markets, Richard created his world’s economy to allow players to extract money they make in the game. So, Chinese teenagers can actually make a living by mining gold or developing and selling their characters to players who have more money than time, such as wealthy middle-aged American men who play T’Rain to fulfill their desires for world-building and dominance. T’Rain is now the most popular MMORPG ever.

Things are going well for Richard and T’Rain until his niece Zula, who works for the company, discovers that her new boyfriend is a criminal. Along with the illegal information he’s just sold to the Russian mafia, he has also inadvertently passed along a new computer virus called Reamde. Now the bad guys’ important files are being held hostage until they can drop off a ransom in T’Rain. The Russians want Zula to help them track down the hacker.

At this point, Reamde turns into a fast-paced action-packed globe-spanning twisty geo-political thriller. It’s not really a speculative fiction novel at all, but because some of it takes place in an MMORPG and it enjoys poking fun at fantasy literature clichés, it’s especially appealing to SFF readers. And it doesn’t just make fun of geeks, RPG addicts, fantasy tropes, and those of us who feel ridiculously nostalgic for ancient times we’ve never actually experienced, but it also takes amusing but good-natured swipes at Walmart, Midwestern “recombinant cuisine,” linguistic purism, right-wing extremism, and nagging ex-girlfriends whose voices won’t go away. Best of all, though there’s plenty of information in Reamde, Stephenson manages to sneak it all in without making you feel like you’re in a college classroom — a habit that was an issue for me in his BAROQUE CYCLE.

Neal Stephenson’s villains are a little over the top, but I loved the characters that I was supposed to love. They were a diverse group from all over the world and yet they each felt real to me. (Except that I’m still not believing that a clever Chinese hacker wouldn’t have used a proxy or some other method to hide his IP address — this bugged me all the way through.) We followed this large cast of characters, sometimes alone, sometimes in a group, and I never once got bored with any of them. I’m even having trouble picking my favorite. I adored Zula, an Eritrean refugee adopted into Richard’s family when she was young. She is smart, motivated, and determined to do the right thing. Then there’s the Russian “security expert” with a conscience and amazing skills with guns, and, of course, Richard Forthrast himself, who’s intelligent, worldly-wise, and has a fascinating history that’s revealed bit by bit. I feel a bit guilty that I was also fascinated by the Islamic terrorist...

Reamde is informative, amusing, and tense all the way through — quite an accomplishment for a book that took me 32 hours to listen to on audio. The audiobook was produced by Brilliance Audio and read by the impressive Malcolm Hillgartner who handled this huge cast, with its diverse array of accents, beautifully — I highly recommend this version.

I loved Reamde. It’s may not be exactly what Neal Stephenson’s devoted fans have come to expect from this author, and I expect that some readers will think it’s too light, but if I’m going to judge a book by how much fun it was to read, there’s just no denying that Reamde is 32 hours (1052 pages) of pure fun! ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
a) This is not Science Fiction/Cyberpunk/Speculative Fiction/Other Names for same thing. If anything, it should be classified as a "thriller" of some sort. It's much like Cryptonomicon in that regard.
b) As such, it's not so much about big allegories (as Anathem was) and huge societal themes (which threatened to overwhelm Diamond Age) and all that.
c) It's not as funny as Snow Crash. If Snow Crash is ambitious mid-20s intellectual humor, this is more tempered, late 30s humor. (I don't know how old Stephenson is. Not the point.)
d) If you're looking for all those things, you may be slightly let down by this book. But I'd think it's the sort of let-down you'd get from... I don't know. Maybe showing up to the party a little after the pizza does. It's not quite as hot as it was when it showed up, but, hey, pizza! No such thing as bad pizza.

My only real complaint while reading this was that, towards the end, I felt as though I was physically unable to read fast enough to keep up with what was going on.

I think that for Neal Stephenson, the plot of a book is just a stalking horse, but it's a really cool robotic stalking horse that looks and sounds like the real thing. (Possibly stretching that metaphor too far.) "It's about gold farming". Well, sure. And it involves an MMO. But this is a trick. It's a framework in which he gets to hang his fantastic wordplay. His writing makes me enjoy language. If he wrote a manual for a bread machine, I would read it cover to cover, because it would be fun to read.

But for all that, it's a hell of a story. By about 200 pages in (which is not even a quarter of the book), it had already covered everything I thought might be coming, and I realized that I had no idea what was going to happen next. And there were still 700 pages to go.

It's fun. It's not quite the mind-blowing hit of future shock that Snow Crash was. It doesn't have the elaborate set pieces that Cryptonomicon did. (The story of Randy's trip into the jungle was practically a standalone novella.) It's not... whatever the Baroque Cycle was, it's not that. But it's a lot of fun.
( )
2 vote curiousgene | Feb 14, 2014 |
I enjoyed reading Reamde, but don't feel like it scratched my Stephenson itch. The story was good, and exciting, I liked the characters, for the most part, and even thought the ending was a bit more solid than Stephenson sometimes pulls off. But...I miss the info dumps. I love the fact that, when I read one of his novels, I come away not only entertained, but educated. I love the fact that (other) Stephenson novels make me think about concepts and issues that I hadn't, before. That Reamde didn't give me that is a real disappointment, and I hope it doesn't signal a permanent change in writing (or, is it editing?) style. Maybe this change makes the novel more accessible to a broader audience, but it would really ruin my enjoyment of one of my favorite authors, should it continue in the future. I don't know where I'd get that fix, if Stephenson was no longer providing the goods.

I wish I could have half stars, because though I did really enjoy it, I'd take a half star off for not living up to my expectations. ( )
  duende | Feb 6, 2014 |
Great book! I thought it would take me a year to get through this book while reading the first hundred pages. Then I couldn't read the last eight hundred fast enough. This book begs for a sequel. ( )
  pking36330 | Feb 6, 2014 |
This is like Stephenson set out to write two different novels. One, a quite entertaining and fairly promising excursion into game world and the psychology and mechanics behind them, and how they impact the real world. The other one, a Tom Clancy novel, but without Clancy's military background knowledge, Clancy's succinct writing, or Clancy's engaging characters. *cough*

Unfortunately, the entire first part of Reamde gets abandoned entirely in favour of guns, guns, guns, more guns, terrorists, plane crashes, helicopter crashes, even more guns, and a f***ing COUGAR. I don't know what the hell the man was thinking in writing this book, but it was all the more disappointing for starting with what promised to be an interesting story. ( )
  ine1976 | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (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)
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)
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 editionsconfirmed
Hillgartner, MalcolmReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iacobelli, JamesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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