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Another of Stephenson's contemporary blockbuster technothrillers, over a thousand pages, which returns to his familiar themes of peculiar families, virtual reality games and the economics of moving large amounts of cash around the world. There are scenes set in great detail of the westernmost sector of the US-Canada border, and a vividly realised chunk of the book set in Xiamen, which I must admit was a city I had given no thought to whatsoever before picking up this book, though it sounds well worth a visit provided one can avoid a visit coinciding with Mafia and/or terrorists. There is one whacking huge unbelievable coincidence fairly early on when gur Znsvn naq gur greebevfgf ghea bhg gb or ubyrq hc va nqwnprag ncnegzragf, haxabja gb rvgure, but apart from that it is pacy and enjoyable, with even the extensive detail final shoot-out crafted entertainingly.

On reflection I have reclassified Reamde as non-sf rather than sf. There is nothing in it that requires counterfactual technology - possibly some aspects of the MMORPG are more advanced than anything in reality, but I found it all believable enough.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2013 11:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, I felt like I'd been tricked by this book. I like sf, my dad Iikes Tom Clancy, and I felt this book was much more for my dad than me.
Dec. 7th, 2013 12:10 pm (UTC)
I'm a little confused; since The Diamond Age in 1995, the only book Stephenson has written as out-and-out sf was Anathem in 2008. The Cobweb (as Stephen Bury) and Cryptonomicon were contemporary thrillers - well, big chunks of Cryptonomicon are set in WW2 - and The Baroque Trilogy was a historical novel, albeit with a very sf sense to it.

Neal Stephenson arguably isn't an sf writer as such. It might be better to describe him as an author who uses a lot of the tropes and techniques of sf to write novels, some of which happen also to have an sfnal setting.

Edited at 2013-12-07 12:11 pm (UTC)
Dec. 7th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this.
Dec. 7th, 2013 12:13 pm (UTC)
Regarding the coincidence, that it my one real gripe with Reamde, a novel I otherwise hugely enjoyed. I read the rest of the book expecting an explanation, only to finish it and realise that the plot only worked the way it did because of that almighty coincidence.
Dec. 7th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
I love the coded spoiler.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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