Reamde is a wild ride that traverses half the globe, has multiple storylines intertwined, and jumps back and forth from the virtual and physical world. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. I read all 1100 pages in about two weeks, despite a high work load. This is the third Stephenson book I’ve read. Stephenson is a captivating writer who pulls you into the story. He makes 1000+ pages feel like 300.
Similar to Seveneves, Stephenson jumps ahead in a part of the story instead of finishing it out, leaving you to fill in the blanks. I like this tactic.
Things I learned:
- On the lam - Running from the law
- Sodality - fellowship
- Eritrea - African horn country between Sudan and Ethiopia
- “De gustibus non est disputandum” - in matters of taste there can be no dispute.
- Cro-Magnons were the first early anatomically modern humans (early Homo sapiens sapiens) that lived in the European Upper Paleolithic.
- Kto Kvo - Who Whom? A saying of Lenin’s.
- Slack water - also known as ‘the stand of the tide’, is a short period in a body of tidal water when the water is completely unstressed, and there is no movement either way in the tidal stream, and which occurs before the direction of the tidal stream reverses.
- Great circles (aviation) - Great-circle navigation is the practice of navigating a vessel (a ship or aircraft) along a great circle. A great circle track is the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere; while the Earth is not exactly spherical, the formulas for a sphere are simpler and are often accurate enough for navigation
- Cataract - large powerful waterfall
- To Soviet-era Russians, looking up at the ceiling is a universal warning that someone might be listening.
Quotes I liked
“Truckers, great of beard, wide of suspender, and huge of belly, looking around and BSing.” 37
“One cannot call him profoundly mediocre without venturing so far out on the critical limb as to bend it to the ground,” “so derivative that the reader loses track of who he’s ripping off,” “to say he is tin-eared would render a disservice to a blameless citizen of the periodic table of the elements” 41
“Each had a confidence about him that was not found in young men who followed the recommended path through high school to College to post graduate training. If she wanted to be cruel or catty about it, Zula might have likened those meticulously groomed boys to overgrown fetuses waiting endlessly to be born. Which was absolutely find because the universities were well stocked with fetal women.”
“Standing there like an asshole looked good in cowboy movies but was not a viable tactic in a world filled with automatic weapons.” 284
“A foolish reverence for official cop procedures did not, apparently, go hand in hand with gayness.” 518
“Men wanted to be strong. One way to be strong was to be knowledgeable. In so many areas, it was not possible to be knowledgeable without getting a Ph.D. and doing a postdoc. Guns and hunting provided an out for men who wanted to be know-it-alls but who couldn’t afford to spend the first three decades of their lives getting up to speed on quantum mechanics or oncology. You simply couldn’t go to a gun range without being cornered by a man who wanted to talk to you for hours about the ballistics of the .308 round or the relative merits of side-by-side versus over-and-under shotguns.”
“This was probably rooted in a belief that had been inculcated to him from the get-go: that there was an objective reality, which all people worth talking to could observe and understand, and that there was no point in arguing about anything that could be so observed and so understood. As long as you made a point of hanging out exclusively with people who had the wit to see and to understand that objective reality, you didn’t have to waste a lot of time talking. When a thunderstorm was headed your way across the prairie, you took the washing down from the line and closed the windows. It wasn’t necessary to have a meeting about it. The sales force didn’t need to get involved.”