Book Review: REAMDE

Reamde_stephenson_williammorrow_2011

REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson

This book is great and you should read it immediately.

Quick Summary: A virus, created by Chinese hackers, is set loose inside an MMORPG called T’Rain; once encrypted, the virus encrypts the player’s hard drive and demands a ransom, which is to be paid in-game.  The boyfriend of the niece of the game’s creator is a hacker who accidentally transfers the virus to his Russian Mafia contact while selling a batch of stolen credit card numbers.  This pisses off a crazy Russian Mafia boss, who kidnaps the niece and the boyfriend and takes them to China to track down the writers of the virus.

Shit then gets real, but this is a spoiler-free summary.

The only thing I can almost complain about is that some of the details regarding T’Rain and the interactions with the game’s two primary worldbuilders (one a J.R.R. Tolkein-type Oxford professor who focuses on canon, the other a hack who cranks out several fantasy books a year) are completely extraneous and do nothing to advance the plot; however these sections are entertaining so I can give it a pass.

Rating: 5/5, would read again if it wasn’t so long.

Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “Trilogy”

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Recently, I re-read the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.  I should note that I read the first two books about 30 years ago and have re-read them several times since.  I also read the other three books of the series when they were published.  I believe I have re-read book 3 a few times, and book 4 once or twice.  This was my first re-read of book 5.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally a BBC Radio Series, which was later expanded and novelized into the first two books: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the end of the Universe.  These two books are hilarious and I recommend them to everyone, although I believe by this point everyone is pretty familiar with them.

Quick plot summary: The Earth is destroyed, Earthman Arthur Dent escapes with his friend Ford Prefect (who, it turns out, is actually an alien), they have adventures and end up stranded on the Earth about a million years in the past.

The third book, Life, The Universe, and Everything, is also quite good, although slightly weaker than the first two books (actually, I would put it on a par with book 2, but below books 1+2 together).  Still, some quite good and funny moments.  Quick plot summary: Arthur and Ford escape from the ancient Earth, have more adventures.

The fourth book, So Long and Thanks For All the Fish, is disappointing but okay.  Arthur returns to Earth in an alternate universe in which the Earth was not destroyed, and meets and falls in love with a girl named Fenchurch who has some connection to his original universe, and the book focuses on their romance.  There’s a few funny moments, but most of the humorous ideas are not fully explored.

The fifth book, Mostly Harmless, is complete crap and should be avoided by everyone.  Arthur has lost Fenchurch into an alternate dimension and never finds her, characters from the first few books return and end up being horrible people, terrible and annoying new characters are introduced, and then everyone dies.  There’s little to no humor in the book, and the whole thing is a depressing end to the series.

Ratings:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 5/5
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: 4.5/5
  • Life, The Universe, and Everything: 4/5
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Fish: 3/5
  • Mostly Harmless: 1/5