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Reamde cover art

Reamde

Written by: Neal Stephenson
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
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Publisher's Summary

“Stephenson has a once-in-a-generation gift: he makes complex ideas clear, and he makes them funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling.” - Time

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Neal Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world with his brazen and brilliant fictional creations - whether he’s reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon). With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace - not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton - once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high - and a new world - for the remarkable Neal Stephenson.

©2011 by Neal Stephenson. (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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 listeners say about Reamde

Average Customer Ratings
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Stick with it!

I almost gave up on this in the first hour or so. There was a lot of background info and discussion about the computer game world. However, I stuck with it and enjoyed the trip. A long story with lots going on but the action was worth it.

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9 people found this helpful

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What a trip!

Great LONG audiobook that kept me engaged for the whole story. Grand scope with a good story.

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4 people found this helpful

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Gripping entertainment

Written with the amazing detail expected from Neal Stephenson. Great technological depth and human feel. Fantastic pacing and an incredibly gripping story that cannot be put down. The characters and voices given by Malcolm Hillgartner are perfect: clear, appropriate, and entertaining. I will be looking for more of his narrations.

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4 people found this helpful

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Unexpected but welcome

Really wasn't sure where Stephenson was going with this title at first but I was pleasantly surprised by how much rich imagery came up along the way. It was very clever to splice spy thriller with an array of digital trends into one narrative.

Malcom Hillgartner had a great vocal presence as well, would consider his other projects next based on his narration alone.

On to the next story! #Audible1

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Wildly entertaining story

Absolutely loved this book. The perfect combination of global spy adventures, video game geekdom, and lovable characters. Could not stop listening.

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bit tedious at the end. But good overall

overall liked the detail and enjoyed it. the end was getting long in the tooth for me. shorten by 2 hours and would have been great.

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Fabulous!

Love Neal Stephenson and this novel in particular. ( also Seveneves!). Great narration! I often sat in my car after arriving at my destination just to keep listening.

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A love hate relationship

It was a great story, action packed and intriguing. If it hadn’t been, I would have stopped listening and returned it.
My issue is, while the author would start waxing lyrical (for a few sentences), my mind would wander and then something of vital importance would happen and I’d have to jump the player back to catch what I’d missed. Then I’d have to listen to the irrelevant claptrap, again.
This was a 5 star storyline. I loved the action, the premise, the characters. I really disliked the tedium. This alone will prevent me from purchasing another of this author’s books.
I’d love to give this book five stars, but I can’t. It loses three for mindless blather.
If you cut out all the completely irrelevant stuff, this could have been an amazing book and half the length.

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  • RA
  • 2023-01-18

Engrossing story

Multiple characters and story lines that interweave and come together seamlessly.

Content is week researched and realistic. A great listen!

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Stopped listening after 5 hours

I persevered as long as I could, but just couldn’t get interested at all. Maybe it gets better towards the end, but I couldn’t get that far.

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  • ShySusan
  • 2011-10-01

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.

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  • Neil
  • 2011-10-10

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.

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  • Brian PDX
  • 2012-04-12

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.

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  • Alan
  • 2011-10-21

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.....

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  • wendy
  • 2011-10-01

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.

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  • C Yohe
  • 2013-05-09

An incredible ride.

I can't imagine all the research that went behind writing Stephenson's Reamde, but it's an incredible looping ride. It takes it's time, it could definitely be classified as an 'epic' fiction, as Stephenson uses deliberate extrapolation and minute details to explain some of the more unlikely scenarios in the novel. There are many scenes that are made, in my opinion, unmanageably realistic, especially toward the end, which drags the story on.

It hit close to home when one of the characters are revealed as a child of Sudan. One of my best friends growing up turned out to be adopted from Sudan, and I never knew until he gave a speech for a community college I attended, years later. He lost his entire family, and the details of his march aren't my business to share, but he never mentioned it, he did his best to move on, and made the most of his life, which is a really cheesy and harsh thing to say. When you dwell on your problems, you're only inviting them to continue to hurt you. A lot of North American kids could learn a valuable lesson from him, and from Zula.

I almost wanted to say Stephenson tried to write the Richard Forthrast as a genius level asperger spectrum, but it's actually really doubtful. The way he organizes his life, and his detachment from reality was probably written this way to detail the repercussions on his personality from years of experience with T'Rain, and from managing a huge industry at it's foundation level.

Overall it's truly a great story, and I've listened to it twice since I bought it, although I usually don't repeat huge novels unless I'm reaaally head over heels for them. I don't recommend trying to quote any of the anthropological fiction-facts without at least a Wikipedia trek.

A lot of the research behind Reamde is sound, such as flying low to get under the radar, and wangbas. Some of the research may be true, but is more opinionated, such as the differences between Go and Chess. But, all of it together gives you a small glimpse into what it may be like to grow up in another country, and the culture shock even open minded youths come across when removed from their accustomed environment. The circumstances that carry the story are as likely as winning the lottery, several times, in the same year, and the plot at times gets hair thin, but with Stephenson's deliberation, it's easy to accept the looping piecemeal situations as a more likely scenario then some of the easy answer fast fire action novels.

This book is sticky, and the humanitarian lessons will keep with you long after the epilogue. It's entertaining and masterfully written, and to be honest it was a relief getting a break from novels where the hero uses his arsenal of one-liners to punctuate explosions.

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  • Patrick
  • 2011-10-02

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.

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  • Howard
  • 2011-10-21

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.

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  • Michael
  • 2012-05-09

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.

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  • Madeleine
  • 2011-10-28

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.

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