• Whatcha Readin’?

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 6 comments

    In light of next month’s book club read, I have to put down my newest fix. Neal Stephenson’s latest novel Reamde is a smart tech thriller about…well, at this point (page two hundred-something out of a thousand or so), the Russian mafia, a virus called Reamde that infects one of their files, and an MMORPG called T’Rain where the virus originated. The characters are engaging, ambiguous, and very real. The reading experience so far has been cinemagraphic and I’m intrigued to see where the core group of characters will end up.

    One thing about Stephenson’s writing that might turn off newcomers is his love of digressions. Personally I find most of them interesting, but I can see why some might consider them pedantic. Stephenson has a wealth of knowledge about everything from programming to geography, and I often feel like I’m learning as I read his digressions.

    So, anyone else in the middle of a good read and want to share the wealth?


    In addition to writing for WriteByNight’s blog, Jenna Cooper writes for BE Mag and a blog called FemThreads. Aside from writing, Jenna served as an AmeriCorps Member from 2008-2010 and will start her M.S. in Information Studies in Fall 2012. She graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in English from the University of Texas.


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    Jose Skinner

    Wondering how much computerese you need to enjoy this book. I like the writing in Powers’s Galatea 2.2 but I noticed I stopped on p. 71 owing to my pitiful ignorance of IT. On that page, ä “bare Troika of Boolean operators brought [the structures] into meaphorical being. We used algorithms to imitate a nonalgorithmic system…” Etc. Maybe one should just plow through…


    I think Reamde is much more of an adventure novel than a tech novel. Maybe I’m a little blindsighted because I play MMORPGs, but I’ve been bogged down in the past by super techie novels. Reamde is one of those books with a lot of “no way, wtf just happend?!” moments. It’s pretty action packed, but smart at the same time.

    Laura Roberts

    Funny you should ask… I just posted a top 5 list of books to “read this week, or die trying”: http://blackheartmagazine.com/2012/02/01/read-these-books-or-die-trying/ I’ve enjoyed some of Stephenson’s books in the past and others not so much. Zodiac? Love it. Snow Crash? Awesome! The Diamond Age… eh, you’re starting to lose me. Cryptonomicon? Ok, I’m outta here. So I am intrigued by Reamde, but also apprehensive. Like Jose says, I don’t want to have to learn IT just to read a fictional work. (Although I think “Boolean operators” in the sentence he mentioned just means 1 or 0, which is how all… Read more »


    I think as long as you know a few basic terms, like MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) encryption, you should be fine. It’s less technical than Cryptonomicon, which I got through due to my attachment to the Waterhouses and Shaftoes from reading the Baroque Cycle.

    Jose Skinner

    Well, now I’m about to change my tune. I got two books the other day at BookPeople, “Parallel Worlds” by Michio Kaku and “Decoding the Universe” by Charles Seife, and, OMG, am I out of of it in terms of the whole digital thing. But clearly you have to know information science to some extent (that’s intentionally vague) to keep up with, well, I hate to use this term, but, “the culture”–of which these books (and probably including some on Laura’s list) are only a small part. This is probably obvious to you the rest of you guys, and maybe… Read more »


    I think at this point we see that heavy digital presence in more genre fiction–cyberpunk, tech noir, and more general science fiction. It hasn’t seemed to transcend to mainstream fiction just yet, but I wonder when it will and how much so.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x