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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)

What Members Say

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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
  •  
    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
  •  
    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 17 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.

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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
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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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  • Samuel
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    11/8/11
    Overall
    "This virus really infected me!"

    A story told between the real countries and fabricated world of T’Rain, this monumental book taps into real do-able on-line technology and imagines an intricate plot mashing the interests of Russian Mafia, wacko survivalists, Jihadists (!), US Special Forces and gaming geeks all toting gun, and shooting people! It draws the humanity out of each characters, on all sides, as they display greed, devotion, love, violence, chivalry and humour.

    As with all Neal Stephenson novels, the detail is well researched and much as Michael Crichton did, it pushes you to check the boundaries of fiction in the story.

    Despite the stereotype British accent that did as well for both the Black Welsh Islamic terrorist as it did for the British/Chinese secret agent Olivia, the reader, Hillgartner, kept the pace and plot twists going and diction is good enough to ramp up the reading speed to time and a half - a benefit when this monster story comes in a 38 hours!



    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Carey
    Preston, United Kingdom
    11/25/11
    Overall
    "A real 5 star audio book...."

    For me this is a real 5 star audio book. I like longer, unabridged books and at over 38 hours long this is great value for money. The really great thing however, is that those 38 hours are action packed. The book never falters or goes through a slow patch, it's great, fast paced action with a quality modern storyline thats perfect 2011. Malcolm Hillgartner's narration is spot on as well.

    I've read a lot of Neal Stephenson's other books, most of which are massive tomes and all of which I love. I have his previous novel, "Anathem" in all its 935 page hardback glory (there is no audio book version), sat on my shelf at home unread because the shear size of it daunts me but listening to this has reminded me that this is madness. I know I will love it as soon as I turn the first page and I plan to start reading it straight away.

    If you have read Neal Stephenson before, and especially if you liked "Cryptonomicon" you will love this as well. If you are looking for an intelligent, fast paced modern thriller then I recommend you give this a go, the 38 hours will fly by.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Maidstone, United Kingdom
    11/15/11
    Overall
    "Wow! What a cracking listen."

    It may be a long book at around 38 hours but the story, characters and construction are fabulous. The way the storylines split, weave around each other and then come back together for the climactic end game was very well accomplished. The narrator did a great job at holding my attention and in many cases anxious intrigue along the way. Some of the Scottish/Welsh/English accents were a bit ropey but good enough to be credible. A definite 5 stars from me.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Beccameriel
    London, United Kingdom
    6/26/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Gripping!"

    Whatever the audio equivalent of a page turner is, this is one of them. I found myself making excuses to go for long walks so I could get more listening time in. At first I didn't think this was my kind of book; I loved Snow Crash and Diamond Age but I'm usually less fond of books set in the the "real" world.

    The reader is just right although, in common with most US readers I've listened to, really can't do a Scottish or Welsh accent which always irks me at first as it breaks the spell but the story carried me with it so I can forgive that.


    Finally, I do appreciate strong female protagonists and Zula kick ass!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Zoe
    BOLTON, United Kingdom
    12/19/11
    Overall
    "Brilliant novel, average reader"

    The novel is fantastic. The story starts off a little slow but quickly picks up the pace until it is dragging you along in its wake. The characters are all incredibly well realised and even the bad guys feel like actual people; which is saying something when you consider several of them are terrorists planning atrocities.

    The only down side to this audiobook is the fact that the reader has a tendency to miss the fact that he still has words to say in the odd sentence. Once you notice he is doing this, and you will notice it fairly quickly, the next thirty-or-so hours will be annoying. That's not to say that the overall production quality on the audiobook is poor, it's just that this guy really needs to read through what he's going to say before he starts to talk.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • james
    newton le willows, United Kingdom
    9/28/12
    Overall
    "You will be disappointed"

    I found it impossible to listen to this book because the narration is so poor. Malcolm Hillgarther just can't do accents. Think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Its a shame that about 50% of the characters are not American. Just awful.



    The story itself is entertaining and engaging. If you like neal Stephenson's style you will like this. Buy the book instead

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Chris64
    1/25/12
    Overall
    "Best Audio Book in Ages"

    Great Characters and immersion into american culture that did not offend. I found myself taking the long way home because I did not want the story to stop

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Simon Peel
    Newbury, Berkshire
    7/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Accents aren't a strong point..."

    And as for the constant 'shone' pronounced as 'shown', don't get me started.

    Excellent story, just let down a little by the decidedly average performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    United Kingdom
    7/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    There are a few novels that are so good it is hard to say enough positive things about; this is one such novel.
    Listen or read this, I doubt you will be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    2/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great listen."

    very well narrated, Malcolm Hillgartner tells a gripping story that keeps you hooked to the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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