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)
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.
More story and less violent "action". What could have been an interesting and entertaining mystery story gets lost in violent bloodletting. If you prefer gore to mystery and torture to plot...this is your book. I've read many of Stephenson's books and he always includes "action" but this is the first that drove me to turn it off and erase it in disgust. I'll be more careful in future.
A good story lost in the gore. A death by a thousand cuts, blood oozing in puddles on the ground. Now if you enjoy torture...you'll probably love it.
The narrator cannot fix the writing...he did a good job with what was written.
Humanity has become numb with gratuitous violence, he's feeding the affliction. It could have been a fine mystery about computer gaming and computer crime if he had not become addicted to torture and gore.
I am seriously disappointed in such a great writer...
This book started out kind of slow but then picked up rapidly. The story was good except for the ending I felt was a bit abrupt for such a long and intricate novel. Over all it was an extremely entertaining and action packed story I would recommend to all.
Having personal experience within the dual worlds of fantasy gaming and reality,,, this romp touches on both, and turns each on its respective ear. Sometimes reality is more fantasy than fantasy. The characters are believable, the shifts flowing and the characters are fleshed out nicely. This will perhaps be the only book of Mr Stephensons i find myself liking, but like it i do, Immensely.
Reamde and Ready Player One resonate in many ways. Though they are very different, both touch on the online/fantasy/roleplaying lifestyle, its appeal and shortcomings. The threads flowing through both are different in feel and texture, but a certain joie de vivre marks these books as kindred and has made me set them side by side on my favorites shelf. The third both of this silly and wonderful trilogy of sorts is Redshirts. Again vastly different in its content, and yet......................................
as a gamer, I would have to claim the personal favorite of egdod wandering through the desert while a host of thousands is trying to protect him, and a ravening horde is attempting to attack him. To be honest i wish the gaming world were just a bit more fleshed out.
extreme reaction? No, something a little more subtle. I left this world,,,, satisfied. I closed the book as if i were headed home from a visit with friends,,, friends whose lives will continue,, hopefully with a little less excitement moving forward, but still they wont cease to exist even though i am no longer there to watch......
Only that now, i want to play the silly game,,, the one that doesnt really exist. . I wish Mr Stephenson would write more books like this. I have bought all his other books for my son and attempted to read them myself, but alas, i simply cannot get into them. This one i will treasure and my son had to buy his own copy.
Absolutely, and without reservation. There's no shortage of action, but the major characters all have some depth to them. The women are not just damsels in distress or bimbos, and they get their fair share of the action. Even the characters closest to being standard action antiheroes - they're all a lot closer to Han Solo than to Aragorn - do some thinking and planning.
Olivia's reaction when her contact said, '...and then one guy said something like, "Holy s#%*! It's Sokolov!"'
And let's not forget, "Why is it all right for James Bond?"
I think this was the first of his performances that I've listened to.
There were lots of funny moments, and the other folks at the gym may have wondered what I was listening to. Fortunately, I was somewhere else when the colostomy jokes cropped up.
Although there were some poignant moments (e.g. observation of the hand-stitched quilt in the RV), none of them were in the "make you cry" category.
I couldn't bring myself to turn it off during about the last 6 hours of the recording. It had been obvious for some time that the story was heading in a certain direction, and I couldn't wait for the bad guys to get what was coming to them, or to find out which of the good guys got to finish off the leader of the bad guys.
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