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[personal profile] matt_doyle
Reamde is a novel about MMOs, the Russian mob, terrorists, and... yeah, I'm not really sure.  While, like most Stephenson, it's a romp through a weird, highly researched environment, full of heroes who are the perfect wish fulfillment of competence porn, it really fell down for me.  Many of the most interesting worldbuilding details related to the MMO plot became an unfired Chekhov's Gun.  In fact, the entire novel seemed to derail halfway through, when Stephenson introduced a whole new cast of characters and plot elements, overwriting what felt like the natural course of the novel (which seemed like a parallel to Cory Doctorow's For The Win).  It seems to me like Stephenson got writer's block, then solved it by application of Chandlerian axiom.  When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.

Only in this case, he had the man with the gun go through the wrong door, introducing a non sequitur romp that would have been a great hundred-page tangent, but fell apart as an un-telegraphed Act II of the novel.

That said.  I loved the characters, I loved the worldbuilding, I loved the bits where Stephenson was sniping at himself.  I'm a sucker for competence porn where enemies are drawn together by the realization that they're the only two rational professionals in a war of insane amateurs.

It was an enjoyable, schlocky read; and it had the typical Stephensonian pulling-out-the-stops fireworks finale ending, but otherwise it felt like a book by a different man.  Or two half-books by the same man, awkwardly welded together with Frankensteinian optimism.


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January 2014


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