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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


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Nyoko Salome

;0 if neal is in here, he is surely not admitting as much as billy g. did (somewhere long ago admitting to having tried sl and playing a 'griefer' type just to have fun... ;0)

:0 i think it is absolutely insightful though what he observing; that 'virtual reality' is not 'goggles and gloves' after all... it is just the viddy/auddy/input interface after all. it does not need to be ultra 'johnny mneumonic/lawnmower man' all about it... ;0

haven't read much neal since, lol oh, 'the big u.' ;) i know he'd rather forget it, but it surely was a fun enough romp-read back when it was released... reminds me of the old days lurking around university computing centers back in the day!! ;)


He created fictional constructs to enhance the "conflict" needed for a good "yarn"..

too bad, techoid literalists like Rosedale and others keep trying to replicate his constructs and call/sell them as the next "communities"

That goes for anyone who thinks "facebook" and "games" are any foundation for a culture.

A new 2d text game platform eh? at least its only a "game" platform... oh right.;-0

Mitch Wagner

I'm totally impressed that Neal Stephenson returns your phone calls.

Mitch Wagner

Dave Ewalt, who did the Stephenson interview linked to here, was a SL h8r back in the day:


Hamlet Au

Yeah I remember that, I actually debated him about SL on G4 TV. I bet he was trying to get Stephenson to trash SL, but he didn't take the bait.

I wouldn't dare call him up, but he does occasionally reply to e-mails!

desdemona enfield

Caution: My comments below assume that the gentle reader is familiar with the names of people and places within the Reamde discourse. As such, my descriptive references to these may contain SPOILER information.

Rumor had it that Reamde would be a virtual world story. On that basis I drove myself through it in three days.

However, before people tackle this 1000 page opus, I will caution them that they should bear in mind that it is not primarily about virtual worlds. Stephenson has written a Tom Clancy action novel. His World of Warcraft style virtual world only enters the story as a mechanism at the beginning to transfer money using unconventional methods (laundering) and then occasionally later in the story as a means for characters to find each other and then exchange information. If readers are hoping for a Neuromancer or Snowcrash, they will be disappointed.

It is my impression that he originally intended for virtual worlds to be more central to the story. He presented two very powerful concepts in the first two hundred pages: 1) the war of realignment in which characters who entered T'Rain embedded in the original Dungeon & Dragons and Tolkinesque narrative contexts rebelled against this imposition and spontaneously reorganized themselves into the Earthtone Coalition and the Forces of Brightness, and 2) the concept of the virtual to physical world API through which players in the virtual worlds could process and resolve problems in the physical world.

The first thematic possibility was laid out early in the story, when characters in the physical world were noticing color schemes in the physical world that were aligning with those of the virtual world War of Realignment. The stage was set of a massively complex alternate universe tale in which the disparate interactions of the principal physical characters would re-sort themselves along the Earthtone and Brightness axis. Imagine a story in which Jones and Marion become aligned with Richard and his association with Chet and the still 'active' SoCal biker games, in a coalition of Brightness against the Earthtone political and financial infrastructures of the world Granted this would have been quite a stretch to re-image Jones over to being a good guy, but his character, which was already ambiguous, could have been drawn as less atrocity oriented and more justice oriented.

The second theme opened the possibility that the game of T'Rain could have be come much much more than just a game. Via the virtual world API, the sheer energy of the game players could have infiltrated into and ultimately become the governing infrastructure of the world. It would have turned the tables on the physical and virtual roles as T'Rain provided the mechanism though which a global war of realignment played itself out.

As it was being written, perhaps Mr. Stephenson found that the action movie genre of his story simply overwhelmed all these other opportunities. The story played itself out as a traditional good guys versus bad guys drama. But imagine a sub-story in which within T'Rain, after a flurry of discontent with the over arching Good and Evil classifications imposed by D-squared and Skeletor, the entire virtual community abandoned the War of Realignment and restored themselves to the originally dichotomy. That would have been a disappointing story. In the same sense, I found Reamde to have dissipated so many brilliant possibilities that at the end of the novel, I was disappointed with what seemed to be a failure of imagination.

However, it was a marvelously written, intricate action and combat story. One of the best I have read. I have never seen so many threads of parallel action woven in such engaging detail. It is brilliant and satisfying for what it is. My only criticism has been that, having teased us with so many possibilities for integrating T'Rain into the story, the virtual world was sidelined and became only a background detail.


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