Not long after the release of Anathem, it was announced that Neal Stephenson’s next novel was due in 2011 and would be titled “Reamde”. The computer geeks among Stephenson’s fans (which is to say, most of Stephenson’s fans) were quick to wonder if the title was really supposed to be “Readme”, a common name for help or pre-installation files on computers, but everyone insisted that it “wasn’t a typo”. Well, a couple of days ago, I see on Tombstone that HarperCollins has now listed the book on their site… as Readme. So was it a typo all along, or are the new listings (also on booksellers like Amazon) the actual typo?
There isn’t much information about the book available just yet. Just that it’s coming in at a svelte 960 pages (about par for Stephenson’s recent work) and that it will be released on September 13 (which happens to be my birthday). The original io9 article also noticed that it was classified as “thriller” rather than SF. They wonder if that means he’s abandoning the genre (as if the 2700 page historical epic featuring no science fiction that he wrote a few years ago didn’t happen), but they may have a point about the novel perhaps resembling the pair of pseudonymous techno-thrillers that Stephenson wrote in the early/mid-1990s with his uncle – The Cobweb and Interface. I actually really enjoy those novels for what they are, so I wouldn’t have any problem with the new book being like that. Given the aforementioned significance of the term “Readme” and how it relates to computers, I think that most SF fans would probably be fine with it too.
Unless the book actually is titled “Reamde”. Then we’re totally fucked.