“REAMDE” by Neal Stephenson

(At 1,044 pages, this book looks daunting. I’ve enjoyed other Neal Stephenson books, especially Cryptonomicon, so I didn’t let the size of the book deter me when I was buying it. But I find reading a long book with complex intertwined plots needs continuity – no point in picking it up and trying to resume after leaving it unopened for weeks! Even though I bought this book over a year ago, I only finally had time to read it in the last couple of weeks. Aside, in this day-and-age-of-laptops-and-kindles, I was amused by the odd sidelook I got whenever I settled into a nearby coffee shop and produced this weighty hardback ink-on-paper tomb!)

Wikipedia has a great summary here, but obviously be warned that it has lots of plot spoilers. Without giving too much plot away, I liked the book. From my perspective, I really enjoyed how Neal can interweave different stories. While there were many different interwoven stories here, the ones that are top of mind for me were:

  • the hacker-and-former-girlfriend-get-kidnapped story
  • the spy-tracking-jihadists story
  • the massive on-line game business story

All very different stories, yet the detailed coverage of each make me think Neal has a great understanding of hackers, encryption, different-business-market-economies-of-massive-on-line-games, Soviet-veterans-of-the-confict-in-Afganistan, internet-cafes-in-developing-worlds… the list goes on and on. I even found the way computer issues were covered to be accurately describes (typically a pet peeve for me!). In the midst of all the other drama, I was greatly amused by the image of a super-important invulnerable character (Egdod) walking in unattended mode back to home base, while various other T’Rain players were attacking him / defending him / rubber-necking the impossible sight of Egdod moving through their world. And somehow, someday, I need to find a way to use the throwaway joke about “Your org chart?”, “No, orc chart”.

The book was a great read, and I’d recommend it.

5 thoughts on ““REAMDE” by Neal Stephenson”

  1. I’m not so sure about long books. I have never read a long book that was better than a short book. For me, the most important quality in art is restraint. I find long books lacking in this respect. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had it exactly right when he said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

  2. I read it, and i HATED it. The plot made no sense to me, and it was overly long.
    I had previously read Snowcrash, which i absolutely loved. That made me pick up reamde. But it was a terrible choice.
    Now i am undecided whether to go read the Cryptonomicon series or not.

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