In 1972, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, fled to the mountains of British Columbia to avoid the draft. A skilled hunting guide, he eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling marijuana across the border between Canada and Idaho. As the years passed, Richard went straight and returned to the States after the U.S. government granted amnesty to draft dodgers. He parlayed his wealth into an empire and developed a remote resort in which he lives. He also created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world.
But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.
Racing around the globe from the Pacific Northwest to China to the wilds of northern Idaho and points in between, Reamde is a swift-paced thriller that traverses worlds virtual and real. Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the 21st century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists. Above all, Reamde is an enthralling human story - an entertaining and epic pause-resister from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.
©2011 Neal Stephenson (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“Stephenson...delivers a sprawling thriller that shows him in complete control of his story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Noir futurist Stephenson returns to cyberia with this fast-moving though sprawling techno-thriller...Who’ll prevail? We don’t know till the very end, thanks to Stephenson’s knife-sharp skills as a storyteller. An intriguing yarn—most geeky, and full of satisfying mayhem.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Sometimes when you’re reading Neal Stephenson, he doesn’t just seem like one of the best novelists writing in English right now; he seems like the only one.” (Lev Grossman, Time)
Neal Stephenson has only become accessible to me as an author since I joined Audible. So it was with similar trepidation to pulling the listen for Cryptonomicon that I approached Reamde.
If you like the pacing and methods Stephenson used in Cryptonomicon, where multiple threads run parallel to each other for about 2/3rds of the book before all intermingling together for the last third, you'll like this book. The characters all feel very real, the situations and backdrops stick in your head... I can recall most of what happened in this book, and I listened to it several months ago.
No complaints to speak of, just a fun book if you can weather the run-time!
As usual, Stephenson tells an interesting and involving story; but wanders forever in the deep, dark forest of background before coming within miles of anything resembling a plot.
Lover of sci-fi and the occasional horror story. Philosophical inclinations. English is my second language.
I have enjoyed several of Stephenson's books, Anathem in particular. He knows how to create a gripping narrative and successfully draws in global and often deeply philosophical themes - features that chime with me. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to elaborate too much on details peripheral to the story. That tendency goes hand in hand with his peculiarly linear storytelling. Reamde is the perhaps most evident example of this and made the book difficult to enjoy for me. At times, it reads like a real-time description of a number of successive events. In addition, the storyline, while intriguing, is not strong enough to old my attention for so many hours of listening. The book is simply too long, too linear and too detailed.
In fact, I believe Reamde would make a good film. Not only is the novel written much like a move script; the movie format would necessitate the extensive editing that the book unfortunately lacks.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I bought it in one of the sales but thought since it was about gaming I would not like it. The gaming is just a catalyst to a great adventure. There is mystery, adventure, some human behavior explored and good ole fashion fun. Definitely a book that does not match the description. A small negative point is that there are times that you need to let go of reality and go with the flow but then the story settles back. I almost look forward to going to work so I could listen to the book on the way in. Well worth a credit, definitely a great buy from a sale.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
"Reamde" is more than 34 hours long and I still regretted reaching the end.
Malcolm Hillgartner delivers a masterful performance that kept me engaged throughout.
The opening chapter of REAMDE reads like something from John Irving or Richard Russo. It establishes the Richard Forthrast, online war game billionaire and former smuggler, in the context of his Iowa farming clan family which covers the American spectrum from "American Taliban" Freemen, living off the grid, through Vietnam vets working the farms to Zula, Richard's adopted Eritrean niece.
The home team here is American in all its flavours, but the game is played, both online and in real life, on a global stage, stretching through Canada, China, and the Philippines, with characters from the Russian, the UK (a half-chinese British spy, a Scottish fraudster and a black Welsh Jihadist), Hungary, and China.
The plot is complex but clear but its twists and turns are driven as much by the characters as it is by the underlying situation.
The themes are rich and rewarding: the links between the cyberworld and real life, the nature of money and power, the clash of cultures between the West and the rest, the power of friendship, the limitations of money and the value of honour in uncertain times.
Richard Forthrast is in his 50's. He's lived long enough to make parts of the cyberpunk fantasy imagined in Stephenson's "Snow Crash" (published in 1992, two years before the World Wide Web was born) into a reality and is now living with the consequences. The book is named after a computer virus that preys on people in the real world and makes them pay up in Cyberspace (shades of BItcoin here), starting a real world hunt for the hackers that spirals out into ever increasing mayhem.
The actions scenes are crisp and focused. The sense of place is strong. The people are believeable.
In the end I wondered if the on line game was really so important to it all. Then I slapped my forehead, gave the obligatory Simpson's "Duh!" and realised that that was perhaps Stephenson's main message: of all the kinds of reality that are out there, the one that matters most is the one where you do anything you have to to make those you love safe.
Outstanding book with great technical depth. Current topics related to computer security. Character development was outstanding!
Richard Forthrast was my favorite character as each chapter relieved more about him as an individual. Outstanding development by Neil Stephenson!
Overall the narration was good, not the best that I have heard but the speed and character diversity was enough to make it a very enjoyable listen, especially with the length of this book.
Some portions were light enough to make you laugh overall the suspense kept you on the edge with anticipation.
Yes. Sadly, a 38 hour book isn't one that can be listened to in one sitting, but I did the best I could. I started listening to Reamde on Thursday afternoon, and finished Saturday afternoon.
Hillgartner's reading was perfect--and I listen to a lot of books. He was so good I actually looked him up and looked over what else he's narrated with an eye to buying! Yes, that good.
The pacing and storytelling were terrific--it's one of those interwoven tales where we follow several plots, with several characters. Usually one or more are just a bit duller, but in this book, they were all great. The author did not play favorites. I am a Stephenson fan, and have read in paper both Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. I just bought on Audible Cryptonomicon, and have the Baroque Cycle in the wishlist.
See my comments above....
cracking great yarn
first love scene between Sokolov and British spy
no but I will, he is a fantastic reader
Zula beating the baddies on the cliff
loved every minute of it!
No. The reader's enunciation was maddeningly over the top, and the only reason I kept listening was because the book itself was so good.
Some people might be upset that Stephenson isn't writing science fiction here, but a good story is a good story, no matter the setting or content. I don't know a darn thing about video games or guns, and this story basically revolved around those two subcultures. Guess what? I was on the edge of my seat the whole time anyway. Stephenson's not for everybody, but if you made it through the Baroque Cycle and you didn't previously have an interest in the world economic system in the Enlightenment period, you'll probably like this one too.
No. Hillgartner's pedantic performance probably added an extra two hours to the length of the book. It's sad, because he did a great job with differentiating the myriad of character voices and accents that were thrown at him in a book this epic, but he insisted on putting a glottal stop between words that end and start with consonants. I've never heard any other audiobook sound so stilted. It took me out of the story and annoyed me to no end. A good audiobook performer needs the confidence to elide occasionally--you know, like normal human beings do. This book might be a good choice to read the old-fashioned way, for just that reason.
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