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Reamde | [Neal Stephenson]

Reamde

Richard Forthrast created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

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  •  
    ShySusan 10-01-11
    ShySusan 10-01-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not perfect, but worth a listen."

    I have read and liked several of Stephenson's books. A lot. On the other hand, I've started several of his books and couldn't get through them. I read some of the reviews on Amazon, and many of them were only giving this book 3 stars--apparently because this book wasn't similar enough to his other books. I guess I would agree to some extent. In many ways this was a simpler book than, say, The Diamond Age or Snow Crash. So if you can't be happy with a Neal Stephenson book that isn't a towering edifice of imagination, maybe you will be disappointed. I suspect, however, that if you like Clancy's or Ludlum's books, this will be exactly your cup of tea. This is a pretty straightforward, although llloooonnnngggg, thriller.

    In his description of the online game in this story, I kept wishing it was real so I could immediately start playing it, even though I'm not generally into bang-bang-shoot-'em-up games.

    There were many characters that I liked a lot and was cheering for. I am NOT, as it happens, a big Clancy or Ludlum fan (generally) because I can't seem to care very much about their characters. I DID care about these people.

    I don't think this was a perfect book, and I don't think this is Stephenson's best book. But I do think it is a good book and worth a listen.

    Oh, and about the narrator: I think he did a really good job. There were numerous characters from many different countries, and he handled the accents very well.

    161 of 163 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Amsterdam, Netherlands 10-10-11
    Neil Amsterdam, Netherlands 10-10-11 Member Since 2012
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    "Subjective Review - Not a Conventional Thriller"

    I work professionally as a Video Game Developer -- so any book in that world makes me *cringe* internally that the author will get a myriad of details -- both technical and in tone -- that the author will inevitably butcher. (I'm look at you jPod and Douglas Coupland) However, I shouldn't have been worried -- this is Neal Stephenson! He gets the details right! That's what he does! And from my perspective he did it here.

    With few exceptions, he doesn't make mistakes in this book with either the technology or the culture. T'rain feels like the kind of game that might eventually unseat World of Warcraft from the MMPORG throne, and Dodge the kind of guy who might found it. People who work in the video game world all tend to be a little crazy -- and he gets that just right here too. It also shows a tangibly near-future scenario that shows how Gaming Technology and Culture might have a serious impact on things in the real world -- Like Global Military Security

    Reamde starts in the vein of Cryptonomicon, then takes a very sudden left turn due to some pretty serious Deux Ex Machina. Be prepared for some suspension of disbelief there -- but stick with it. What evolves is a Clancy-style-thriller with a Stephenson voice, and an unusal storytelling style I'd compare to Terry Prachett.

    Reamde is a little quirky, a little funny, and a thriller all at the same time. If this were a movie then it would be described as the love-child of "Snatch" and "Enemy of the State." It's action-oriented but with a wry sense of humor and interesting characters.

    If you are a Gamer or a Dev like me, highly recommended light reading. I listened while lying on the beach on my vacation and I couldn't have asked for better.

    77 of 78 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 04-12-12
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 04-12-12

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "Terrorists meet geeks..OL & in RL"

    I'm not a techno-nerd type person who dwells in the world of gaming.....about which many of the previews of this book emphasize.I'm an old granny with some ability to function in the world of computers and a family of geeks who keep me sort of up to date. I do, however, appreciate a good thriller and Neal Stephensons terrorist vs. gaming geeks novel kept me interested throughout it's very long story...with just a few exceptions.

    There are some parts where the descriptive writing goes on far too long, IMO, but they don't terribly detract from the basic good plot and nice narration by Malcolm Hilgartner. I'd maybe wish for a bit of editing on the writers part, and from the reader I'd wish for a more consistent voice on the variety of accents but all in all it's a solid listen much along the lines of a Tom Clancy.

    Not nearly as techy as William Gibson, I see that as a good thing for the run of the mill reader who isn't into Multiple Personality Gaming or whatever it's called, where my nephews seem to spend all their time and money-living their life in some alternate online universe that I don't understand....of course the last games I played was the board game of Battleship...I am truly old tech.

    This book is a fun read, good buy, and a great listen. With a touch of love story on occasion, nice strong well developed female protagonists which is fun to read, the male protagonists are nicely portrayed too and the bad guys who aren't quite as smart as a group of gamers and survivalists when they get together as a united force.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MJC 05-16-15
    MJC 05-16-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Out of Sequence Chapters"
    What made the experience of listening to Reamde the most enjoyable?

    I couldn't finish the book due to the out of sequence chapters. Starting at about chapter 28, the train went off the rails. The story skipped from Day 3 to Day 5, back to Day 4, then on to Day 7, etc. Utterly frustrating.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration and the story itself were, when I wasn't fighting the urge to throw my phone out the window, what you would expect from Stephenson and Hillgartner. Deliberate pace, nothing rushed and not too slow. The narrator did an excellent job.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not unless the chapter disorder is fixed.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not sure if anyone else experienced what I did, as I haven't seen any reviews with my complaints. I tried listening on and Apple device and an Android. Identical issues on both. I've already engaged with Audible tech support, hopefully they get this fixed.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan 10-21-11
    Alan 10-21-11 Listener Since 2009
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    "mmmm, this was a hard one to rate"

    well if you asked me in the first quarter or so of this book how many stars i would of rated it i could possibly only given it a 3 star rating.... then some things started happening and i thought it was only a little action interlude and its going back to the 3 star treatment... but, far out was i wrong... it turned out by the end scrambling back to a 5 star rating... and that means that three quarters of the book needed to be exceptionally great otherwise i could not justify an overall 5 star.... during the boring part i remember telling my partner that i was bordering on disappointment with the hype etc. of this book, then talked to her a couple of days later about it and she couldn't believe the transformation in my opinion of the book.....

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 10-21-11
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2010

    When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's a long journey - worth the investment"

    Wow! This story packs on the miles. I enjoyed it almost as much as Ready Player One. The story moves along and makes you want to keep listening. The author makes you want to care about the charaters and anxious to see what happens next. There is one plot line that I still don't understand how it contributed to the story, but maybe that is me. The author uses this as a vehicle to comment on society and how people can hate each other if only for their on promotion or just the joy of having an enemy. I think this slowed down the story, but that's my opinion, you may feel different after you have listened to Reamde. The narrator does an outstanding job with this epic. I enjoyed the time I spent with Reamde.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-09-12
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 05-09-12 Member Since 2015

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really Unbelievable"

    I guess this book is a pretty standard thriller, which is fine, but did not impress me. It is NOT science fiction. The narration was well done, handling the myriad of characters well, although it may have been, understandably, uninspired. I was annoyed by the utter stupidity of the characters, who act in ways that made no sense at all, yet were convenient for the author. I was annoyed by the wildly unbelievably string of events necessary to move the story. Although there was a lot of action, I found most of the action uninteresting because it was so implausible I didn???t really care. There were a couple of scenes I found exciting, a couple of lines that were funny, and a very few scenes with appealing language and evocative imagery, but far less than I need to really enjoy a novel. Finally I found the novel lacked a spirit that transcended the story. This is a standard thriller with a few geek twists, but I always hope for more than standard.

    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 10-28-11
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 10-28-11 Member Since 2015

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Stephenson at his Imaginative Best"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this book to someone who liked pretty standard thrillers. It is not up to the standard of Snowcrash or Cryptonimicon in terms of edgy techy speculative fiction. Nor does it have the immersive world-building quality of some of the Baroque Cycle books. But it's a well-constructed and engaging mainstream thriller.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Neal Stephenson? Why or why not?

    I'll always have a go at a Stephenson book. At worst, it's a decent story. At his best, he just sweeps you away.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    There is no such thing as a 'reasonably well done' Scottish or Russian accent. Readers can either do them or they can't. This one couldn't and it really made some of the book cringeworthy.


    Could you see Reamde being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Certainly. I'm afraid I'm more of a reader than a movie-watcher though, so no suggestions on the cast.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are expecting a book like Snowcrash or Cryptonomicon, then you'll be disappointed. If you're just looking for a tight, fast-paced run of the mill thriller, it's fine.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-02-11
    10-02-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story, Decent Narration-Aside from Accents"

    As fans of Neal Stephenson know, he deserves the often used moniker "Master Storyteller." Reamde combines the adventure, character development, and technical acumen for which he is famous with real-time real world settings (Seattle, British Columbia, China...) not employed since his novel Zodiac in 1988. Reamde has all the technological cyber wizardry of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon combined with modern gangsters, spies, and international intrigue. Reamde has the brilliant Stephenson ideas packed into his science fiction books with the accessibility of a story any Tom Clancy fan would certainly appreciate as well as dedicated Stephenson science fiction fans.

    As fans of audio books know, narration is an essential part of any audio book. Although Malcolm Hillgartner has an excellent voice and delivery in general, he continually slides from Slavic accents into a weird accent as much Mexican-American as Hungarian or Russian. Sadly, his Chinese accents sound extremely Mexican-American, and not at all Asian. Sorry, Mr. Hillgartner, but if you cannot do an accent perfectly please do not even attempt it. It is distracting, and it detracts noticeably from this wonderful story.

    36 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy NJ 10-01-11
    wendy NJ 10-01-11 Member Since 2010

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "another Stephenson winner"

    I was eagerly awaiting this story & zipped right through it as soon as it arrived. LOVED it- my favorite since Cryptonomicon.

    The story is classic Stephenson, and the characters are just crazy. There are a bunch of folks you end up following around and of course their backstories are all just bonkers but awesome. I was in awe how he brought everyone together at the end for the big showdown. Yes, it's a 100 page gun battle. A totally crazy, somewhat hilarious, pure Stephenson ending. Go listen! I was so sad to have this end, eagerly awaiting his next story.

    42 of 47 people found this review helpful
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  • Benjamin
    STOKE ON TRENT, United Kingdom
    2/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Many brilliant things about this."

    The narrator is superb. The mix of IT, World of Warcraft the Mafia and Islamic Fundamentalism is something to behold. The story isnt perfect and contains too many unlikely coincidences. But it is really very brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Southampton, UK
    12/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "long and enjoyable"

    enjoyable tale, good narration. but be prepared its very long. not that that is a bad thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tatiana
    Europe
    11/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A whole lot of entertaining nothing"

    It may be a "techno thriller", but only just -- the technology in question feels mostly like a MacGuffin to motivate a chase around the globe; the possibilities and dangers of technology remain largely unexplored, but while the book fails to inspire or enlighten, it remains entertaining throughout. "It's not a must-read, it's a can-read."
    Recommend to anyone who is looking for a lot of book for their credit and who is willing to accept a somewhat run-of-the-mill thriller. Reader is competent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • SusieT
    Nantwich, Cheshire, GB
    11/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A thrilling adventure"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Reamde to be better than the print version?

    This is an excellent story with wonderfully delivered narrative that made me want to keep listening. Neal Stephenson always writes with great depth and breadth and this was the first time I had listened to an audio version of one of his books. But it did not disappoint in any way and I enjoyed the delivery by Malcolm Hiltgartner.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Reamde?

    Reamde covers many subjects and develops so many characters, you end up rooting for them all. It's difficult to assign a preference to any of the cliffhangers and indeed many of them take a while to resolve in the narrative. The plot does not falter at any point despite the length of the book.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I enjoyed them all. Some level of ingenuity was required to escape each problem scenario and where it seemed hopeless there would be a solution. Not every situation resolved happily though. There was balance.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The role of the cougar.


    Any additional comments?

    There was no wasted narrative in this story. Everything matters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    Hampshire
    9/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Details make the story"

    Since snow crash Neil Stephenson has been one of my favorite authors with Cryptonomicon being, to my mind, his stand out book. While “Read me” isn’t as good as Cryptonomicon it is still well worth a read. I found the opening third slightly confusing, but after this I couldn’t stop listening.

    A long book with a very geeky feel, it may not appeal to all, but i loved it.

    The narration was quite neutral and did not detract from the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    Epping, United Kingdom
    9/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good clean fun - with guns"

    I bought this because it was on special offer. I really didn't know what to expect but thought it worth a try.
    The story rattles away at breakneck speed. Lose your concentration for a second and you're on a different continent.
    For all the detail on computer games at the beginning, this is an old-fashioned adventure story and none the worse for that. Not a great deal of character development but a lot of action. In it's own way it's rather good and I have to confess that I rather enjoyed it although not my usual sort of listen. I was however, not so happy about all the guns. At times it felt like a love letter to the firearm.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Briggsy
    8/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Started so well and then became tedious"
    Would you try another book written by Neal Stephenson or narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner?

    Yes because I enjoy (usually) Neal's book's and I thought it was well narrated. The story started really well and showed much promise. It is just that the ending was a bit of a let down in my opinion and I started to loose interest.


    Has Reamde put you off other books in this genre?

    No as right up until the last quarter of the book I was enjoying it.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The description of the virtual game world and how it affected peoples lives. Could this really be the future.


    Was Reamde worth the listening time?

    Yes - by no means a bad book just not as good as I hoped.


    Any additional comments?

    I thought the narration was excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tracey
    Whitley Bay, United Kingdom
    7/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "i nearly didn't make it"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This is a good story with some great concepts & characters but it could have been brilliant. It just goes on too long, i never thought i'd be recommending an abridged version.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narration is good, i hope he was paid by the minute.


    Do you think Reamde needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No need for a follow up, i just need to know Eggdog made it home.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sean Inglis
    Matlock,UK
    2/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Twisty Tech Thriller"

    Not quite up to the standard of Cryptonomicon, but it weaves multiple viewpoints in the story arc in an engaging way. In ten years time, some of the technology described will seem old fashioned (and of course it will be), but it's the usual mix of well researched detail and plausible very-near-future speculation from Stephenson.

    It doesn't make the mistake of speculating *too* far into the future; everything described *could* be done now, so coming back to it at a later date, or picking it up in 5 years time may feel slightly nostalgic, but it will dodge sounding dated and inaccurate.

    A wide range of likeable and thoroughly unlikeable characters thrown into challenging and increasingly tense situations.

    I enjoyed Malcolm Hillgartner's performance; the accents are a bit variable in places - you may pause for a second or so to tune into the character - but all-in-all pretty effortless to listen to, clear, and well paced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sam
    Chorley, United Kingdom
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Read Me"

    Reamde is one of those stories that sound good from the cover but then gets better and better. It does a fantastic job of creating likeable characters throughout and perfectly combines the geeky world of MMORPGs and the fast pacing of a thriller.
    Malcolm Hillgartner does a great job of story telling and has the better range of voices that I've heard in a while. Fantastic listen and I've recommended it to a lot of people and bought paper copies for Christmas presents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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