Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde’’ opens with a target practice session at the Forthrast clan’s annual Thanksgiving gathering. Various firearms - shotguns, Glocks, assault rifles - are discharged into an Iowa pasture. Fun for the whole family.
The spasm of gunfire is prophetic. By the time Stephenson’s world-girdling novel has reached its exhaustive conclusion, countless rounds have been fired. As Stephenson notes in his acknowledgments, he required the services of a “ballistics copy editor’’ to fact-check the inner-workings of every Kalashnikov and bolt-action .22.