Archive for November 30th, 2011

REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson

Not exactly a review, but a few thoughts on this book at about the halfway point.  I kind of lost my enthusiasm for Stephenson’s work sometime after The Diamond Age.  I really wanted to like The Baroque Cycle, as I’ve always been interested in the Newton-Liebniz dustup over the invention of calculus, for its time a Microsoft-vs-Apple-scale intellectual property dispute, but I got stuck in the weeds.  Stephenson is an acute observer and a diligent researcher, but he often comes dangerously close to the “I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn” narrative anti-pattern.  He’s a one-thing-after-another kind of writer, a meticulous sequencer, kind of like a Nicholson Baker with a plot plug-in, and if you like that sort of writing, great.

REAMDE suffers a little from that level of obsessive detail, but for me, it is his most accessible work since The Diamond Age.  He’s wrapped a Spy-vs-Spy plot and some great characters around MMOG’s and other 21st Century detritus and the result is a great ride, liberally salted with insightful cultural observations.

Highly recommended.

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