How do you fit hackers, Iowa, Russian mobsters, the South China Sea, a pot-smuggling draft dodger CEO, and online gaming into one book? To do so successfully, you'll need a fertile imagination - and a lot of room to work in all those plot elements. As his new novel 'REAMDE' proves, Neal Stephenson has both. At over 1000 pages, it's a big book, but according to one reviewer those pages are filled with "gripping narrative tension that moves at a breakneck pace", so they "fly by".
The book focuses on the players of a massively multiple online role-playing game called T'Rain (think 'World of Warcraft'). In the world of this particular game, virtual 'gold' can take on real-world monetary value, and as Stephenson points out, some of that money is redistributed from first-world players to 'gold farmers' in developing countries.
In his long career as a novelist, Stephenson has told stories within an impressive range of genres, from steampunk to historical fiction to cryptography to science fiction to political intrigue. He says the complexity of modern game design appealed to him - "I thought it would be interesting to examine this bridge between the virtual world and the world of real money". You can find out more about his writing process, and his love of gold, in this exclusive interview with him on CBC Books.