The 1 New York Times Bestselling Author Of Seveneves, Anathem, Reamde, And Cryptonomicon Returns With A Wildly Inventive And Entertaining Science Fiction Thriller Paradise Lost By Way Of Phillip K Dick That Unfolds In The Near Future, In Parallel Worlds.In His Youth, Richard Dodge Forthrast Founded Corporation 9592, A Gaming Company That Made Him A Multibillionaire Now In His Middle Years, Dodge Appreciates His Comfortable, Unencumbered Life, Managing His Myriad Business Interests, And Spending Time With His Beloved Niece Zula And Her Young Daughter, Sophia.One Beautiful Autumn Day, While He Undergoes A Routine Medical Procedure, Something Goes Irrevocably Wrong Dodge Is Pronounced Brain Dead And Put On Life Support, Leaving His Stunned Family And Close Friends With Difficult Decisions Long Ago, When A Much Younger Dodge Drew Up His Will, He Directed That His Body Be Given To A Cryonics Company Now Owned By Enigmatic Tech Entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd Legally Bound To Follow The Directive Despite Their Misgivings, Dodge S Family Has His Brain Scanned And Its Data Structures Uploaded And Stored In The Cloud, Until It Can Eventually Be Revived.In The Coming Years, Technology Allows Dodge S Brain To Be Turned Back On It Is An Achievement That Is Nothing Less Than The Disruption Of Death Itself An Eternal Afterlife The Bitworld Is Created, In Which Humans Continue To Exist As Digital Souls.But This Brave New Immortal World Is Not The Utopia It Might First Seem.Fall, Or Dodge In Hell Is Pure, Unadulterated Fun A Grand Drama Of Analog And Digital, Man And Machine, Angels And Demons, Gods And Followers, The Finite And The Eternal In This Exhilarating Epic, Neal Stephenson Raises Profound Existential Questions And Touches On The Revolutionary Breakthroughs That Are Transforming Our Future Combining The Technological, Philosophical, And Spiritual In One Grand Myth, He Delivers A Mind Blowing Speculative Literary Saga For The Modern Age. I m a go between On the one side is Elmo Shepherd, who believes that brains can be simulated and that once the simulation is switched on, you ll reboot in exactly the same state as when you last lost consciousness Like waking up from a nap On the other side is Jake, who believes in the existence of an ineffable spirit that cannot be re created in computer code What do you believe, Enoch Jake s opinion is based on a theology I do not agree with But like a lot of theologies it can do duty as a cracked mirror or a smudged lens through which we might be able to glimpse things that are informative I don t know about an ineffable spirit, but I do have a suspicion that there are aspects of who we are that will not come back when our brains are scanned and simulated by the likes of Elmo It s not clear to me that memory will work, for example, when its physical referents are gone It s not clear that the brain will know what to do with itself in the absence of a body Particularly, a body with sensory organs feeding it a coherent picture of the world Bitworld meets Meatspace in Neal Stephenson s latest novel Those of you who were around in the 70s and 80s may remember an ad campaign for Miller Lite Two manly men would stage a faux argument over the best quality of the product Less filling, one would say, the other responding with tastes great, the first repeating Less filling, but louder, and back and forth they would go It was cute And pretty successful for the makers of that product For a cinematic image, you might consider Faye Dunaway in Chinatown She s my sister She s my daughter She s my sister She s my daughter You might find yourself in a similar back and forth hopefully without the slapping with Stephenson s latest novel Its science fiction It s fantasy It s science fiction It s fantasy Stop yelling You re both right Calm down Have a drink, on me but please not that Miller Lite swill.Neal Stephenson image from his Goodreads pageStephenson begins where his 2011 novel Reamde left off Despite carrying forward some characters, Fall is not really a sequel, but a totally different book, and can most definitely be read as a stand alone In the earlier book, Richard Forthrast was the creator of a massively popular multiplayer on line game that was hacked by people whose game was theft, and led to a rollicking action adventure tale that paralleled the real world with the immersive on line gaming experience In Fall, a sixty something Forthrast goes to an outpatient facility for what is supposed to be simple procedure There are complications, and Forthrast s game over announcement is played But hold on a minute On checking his will, his bestie, one Corvallis, or C from the earlier book, learns that Forthrast had left instructions for just what to do in case of such an event Along with other billionaire sorts known as Eutropians he had ensured that his brain would be preserved, and then, when the tech was available, scanned with the best available means, and uploaded to the cloud Doubt there are any harp wielding angels there Serial sectioning of a brain image from WikipediaOne of the things that Neal Stephenson does best is walk through the steps necessary to get from notion to reality in a very logical, scientific manner He is for hard sci fi what Arthur C Clarke was in the 20th century, limiting himself to the scientifically possible although he does take liberties from time to time, as in his explanation for the moon s sudden demise in SevenEves So, what tech will be needed to scan brains What sort of algorithms might be needed to make sense of the scans What sort of power might be needed, both in computational and real world energy requirements, and how might that be provided How would this all be paid for Great stuff Love this Stephenson gives serious consideration to what the experience might be like for a person, a consciousness, an entity, a what that finds that their death is not quite so permanent as they d thought, and now find themselves in a totally alien environment, floating in a sea of chaos, with little clue as to how to move on, in any sense of the word How much does memory define personality Can you have a meaningful being without a meaningful place These discussions are going on as we speak read Forthrast is eventually scanned and uploaded, Stephenson makes his best guess as to what this might be like, and it s game on.This is not so far out a notion as you might expect There is considerable interest among the silicon valley gazillionaires in life extension through technology A recent NY Times article told of attempts to revive decapitated pig brains I will leave you to construct your own joke out of that The article link in EXTRA STUFF also addresses the approaches to recording the brain s layout and activity All for neuro experiments that have immediate medical application, of course, but you have to know that such work will be gobbled up by those with the means to advance the work from the theoretical to the actual.Stephenson s stories tend to take place over protracted periods This one covers about a century, well in real world time, anyway, and we are kept abreast of some of the ongoing social and technological changes that occur over this period In BitWorld, time sometimes runs faster and sometimes slower than it does in real time Changes are considerable I expect this also mirrors the author s experience of how the writing of a book progresses.Stephenson is also fond of carrying forward character and institutional names from earlier work That continues here The mysterious and very long lived Enoch Root, for example, shows up, having survived untold ages in earlier books Will he snuff it in this one There are plenty of other links to the past I did not keep track He is also fond of cryptography That shows up in Fall as well, although mostly in a symbolic form The first third, or so, of the book takes place primarily in what is referred to as meatspace in the extant culture It is set bit into the future, but not really all that much In addition to looking at the technological possibilities for the digital extension of life, Stephenson offers a harsh satire of a United States that has become divided between the coastal, educated, better off, parts of the country, and Ameristan, a vast flyover area generated by the Facebookization of the nation, to the point where truthers insist that a fake nuclear bombing of Moab, Utah took place, despite the very obvious, provable truth that it did not This dumbing down of the population, often deliberately and for dark purpose, has created a need for actual paid humans to serve as editors for people s internet feeds It helps to be well off Those not so fortunate are left with an internet that is referred to as the Miasma Religious kookery comes in for a look, very much a part of the triumph of disinformation and know nothingism It is way, way too resonant with contemporary trends in digital media and the impacts of those on our sociopolitical reality for comfort PC Mag What s the larger message you were trying to get across through the Moab hoax NS Well I try not to be too message y, because I think that people tend to turn on their deflector shields when they see that coming But actually when I originally wrote an earlier version of the Moab section, it was prior to the events of the 2016 election and at the time I sort of was patting myself on the back for really being on top of things and predicting the future And then I discovered that the future was way ahead of me. from PC Mag interviewThe middle of the book offers a back and forth between Meatspace and BitWorld, until it is taken over almost entirely by the goings on in the digital sphere, at which point it becomes, to my taste anyway, less filling Back in the day, Ace published sci fi books in pairs They were called Ace Doubles Read one, maybe 125 pps, then, literally, flip the book over and read an entirely other novella, maybe another 125 pages You don t need to flip this one over, and it would take particularly fit wrists to manage it, in any case, but it really is two books in one The second is a fantasy, with battling gods, flaming swords, giants, angels, talking birds, a fortress, rebirth, a quest, secrets, familiar elements of many a fantasy.In Reamde, Stephenson alternated between the real world and the gaming environment The stakes are a bit higher in Fall as the alternating universes may flip between life and after life worlds for the reader, but for the characters there is no such back and forth The notions of consciousness inside the game T Rain and the consciousness in the Bitworld of Fall, when you step back from it, do not seem all that different, as, even if one passes on in Bitworld, one s connectome map of a brain s neural connections can just be uploaded again So, maybe the two are not so different after all Just rebooting within one sphere of existence instead of going back and forth between bits and bods It would take a much larger review than even this one to go, in any detail, into what happens in BitWorld Suffice it to say, and it should be pretty obvious from the title of the book, that the first man in Bitworld, the shaper of things, is cast out of his particular brand of heaven it looks a lot like Iowa, no, really The D Aulaires Greek and Norse myth booksIn the beginning of the novel much is made of the D Aulaire books about Greek and Norse mythology You would do well to keep both volumes at least near to hand for tracking which names have been lifted from which book, and how they relate And let s not forget the good old fashioned Bible old Testament in which Lucifer is cast down from heaven a directional joke is made of this There will be smiting Adam and Eve put in an appearance, the firmament comes in for a bit of attention There is a lot of destruction, rebirth, hubris, people failing to make it to the promised land And then they get reborn after incurring their personal game overs, so a single character can have several iterations, and names, as time in Bitworld moves along during their absence Maybe in a book a third the length I would have been up to making a chart, but other books await I am sure there is someone out there who has already begun I did not find such a chart on Stephenson s media sites, but I suppose it is possible there might be one somewhere in there Regardless, it can be fun keeping track of who s who, and who was who, through their sundry lives.Things that bugged me Let s reiterate that I liked this book quite a bit That said, is it really necessary for Stephenson books to go on for such duration Unlike Stephen King, who has produced a considerable number of doorstops, and who will brook no editing, Stephenson allows his work to be edited I am told this one came in at least a hundred pages heftier, so I take some comfort from the fact that it could have been even longer Also, one wonders how a process that is, by all indications, extraordinarily expensive, and is able to accommodate enough people to cause, or at least assist in causing, a decline of Meatspace population, might be sustainable No, this toy would have been reserved for the uber wealthy and the rest of us would have been relegated to our minimal single lives slaving away to produce sufficient profits for the one percenters to continue exploiting us forever from their digital realm Turns out, in this look anyway, you can take it with you What would happen if, from catastrophes natural or unnatural, the machines were shut down I could certainly see an angry Meatspace global mob doing all in their reach to cut the power cord to the BitWorld masters Tough for the post mortal to feel totally comfy about their eternal prospects if eternity were reliant on such variables But I guess I shouldn t be too irked at such things The point of the book is the ideas, and those are explored wonderfully What might a digital afterlife look like, on an individual basis and a communal one Any book informed, as this one is, by the author s conversations with the likes of Jaron Lanier originator of virtual reality, among other things and technology historian George Dyson is bound to keep your gray cells whirring On top of that, Stephenson s extension of the current madness in media, looking at the impact of our current sociotechnical trends on civility, the organization of our nation, and on sanity itself, is quite wonderful, and hopefully not too prescient Finally, while his bridge crossing to fantasy from hard sci fi seems odd, it is also very daring, and it is clear he had a lot of fun mixing sundry mythologies into a pretty interesting literary brew, regardless of whether you prefer to think it tastes great or is less filling Dodge may suffer a significant demise in Fall or, Dodge in Hell, but you are unlikely to join him I expect most readers will, instead, feel uplifted by the fun of tracking myths, and the intellectual excitement of considering the large ideas Stephenson has brought to bear In short, Fall or, Dodge in Hell is, for readers, a bit of heaven Review posted July 5, 2019Publication date June 4, 2019 EXTRA STUFFInterviews Book Studio 16 Live interview Well, it was when it was done video 27 43 PC Magazine Neal Stephenson Explains His Vision of the Digital Afterlife by Rob MarvinItems of Interest Nature The world s strongest MRI machines are pushing human imaging to new limits pushing the envelope on scanning Wiki Mind Uploading excellent article, well worth checking out Wiki Mind uploading in fiction covers a lot of territory rabbit hole worthy NY Times July 2, 2019 Scientists are Giving Dead Brains New Life What Could Go Wrong by Matthew Shaer Enoch Root It surely is no simple coincidence that The Book of Enoch deals in fallen angels taking on the bodies of men Root has appeared before, in the Baroque Cyclc and in Cryptonomicon He may be immortal.Music Carmina Burana BBC Proms 1994Other Stephenson Books I have read 2017 The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O 2015 SevenEves 2011 Reamde 2002 Crytponomicon This is a very hard book to review, but one thing is absolutely true I m absolutely blown away by this book Ameristan Lol MOAB lol This is definitely one of Neal Stephenson s better books Just for the ideas and the great twisting of several tales in one, I m already looking forward to a glorious re read He does lead us down a few winding paths that eventually turn out to be VERY important to the whole, and I admit to laughing out loud several times when the important bits bit me on the butt All told, it s the hundreds of wonderful details, ideas, technological problems, and the nature of our world of Lies and Truth in the Miasma Stephenson s term for the future of the Internet that make this an extremely memorable book, but it s the depth of the themes that go well beyond the obvious Milton s Paradise Lost that make me grin like an idiot.My favorite is the whole perception as reality by way of Philip K Dick, hitting all the big points AND even throwing the scholars a bone by setting up a fantastic Manichean Heresy Real God and the Flawed God and the temperance of Sophia And for you PKD fans, look no further than Divine Invasion The other obvious theme connecting it to Paradise Lost is actually a subversive red herring There s a big twist to this that makes it a lot like PKD, including the paranoia, the corruption, and the faulty memories.I came into this kinda expecting a single viewpoint adventure like many old SFs that take on uploaded consciousnesses and or Hell, but you know what This is so much better We have many viewpoints, great adventures, and very little actual Hell except in a you brought this with you sense Kinda awesome when you think about it No cheap theatrics, only an in depth issue revolving People doing what People always do Character driven, with a lot of added juice Like several ages of mythology run by high speed processors in the ultimate game of Life as an afterlife , skirting the edges of a technological singularity, and wrapping it all up with a reality based hackathon by way of a Gamer s Ultimate Quest.I think I see the point, here For all of us future afterlifers, let s MAKE SURE THE GAME DESIGNERS retain control over it Please No one wants to live an after life CONTROLLED BY THE BEAN COUNTERS The book has some great mirroring going on, rooting itself in near future meatspace with tons of corporate intrigue, funny nasty worldbuilding that put the quality of Truth on trial The whole SF of tackling perception as reality is taken to new heights and multiple threads that keep twining and intertwining in really great ways And then it takes on HUGE significance in the digital realm Nasty significance Lordy The Moab disaster in ways than one is the very thing that sparks the Heaven 2.0 disaster I loved that The whole mad god theme is great And perfectly in line with regular corporate madness, too Why shouldn t we bring all our usual messes into the afterlife We are, after all, only human, even when some of us become gods, angels, or incarnations of DEATH lolI had such a fun time with this, I can t even begin or rather, I have begun, but I could keep going on forever.Like I said, it s a really hard one to review It has a lot of great depth to it that is rather MORE surprising than I ever gave it credit for, and this is coming from an avowed fanboy of Stephenson I definitely like it than Seveneves and Reamde I d have to re read Snow Crash and Diamond Age again to see where it ranks by those I will always have Anathem as my primary love, tho BUT I think I will have to nom this one for next year s Hugo Just for its sheer audacity and richness. After a great start, the book bogs down into gibberish that is neither sf see P Hamilton Void series for that , not portal fantasy see M Stover nor theology lacks any moral dimension 5 star for the first third, 1 star for the last two thirds and a huge, huge disappointment after such an awesome start If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.April 1st Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal StephensonIs it April 1st already Or is this one of the worst attempts at writing serious SF When I was doing UNIX for a living, I fondly remember a running joke that went like this.Unix erotica Here are some examples of inputs and responses from the Unix C Shell. So to establish my bona fides right away, let me mention that I ve read and loved all 16 novels that Neal Stephenson has now written in his life yes, even his disavowed 1984 debut, the now out of print The Big U , and consider him one of my top three all time favorite writers currently alive and publishing new work So what a profoundly heartbreaking thing, then, to finish his latest, the 900 page virtual reality morality tale Fall Or, Dodge in Hell, and have to be forced to admit to myself, You know, that book waswell, it was kind of crappy, is what that book was During the first half of the manuscript, I became convinced that this was because Stephenson turned in a clunker of an actual storyline here because, for the first time in his career, Stephenson takes on here the very contemporary real world issue of the Red Pill revolution of the 21st century which I m defining here as the interconnected throughline that links together the Bush administration, the rise of Fox News, the Tea Party, Gamergate, Sad Puppies, 4chan, the Meninist movement, incels, the alt right, and the dark ascendency of God Emperor Trump Seemingly not a single person in the last twenty years that opposes this movement has been able to write critically about the subject without just losing their shit and quickly devolving into lazy, badly written doomsday scenarios about the nightmarish hell our world will become if these people were to ever gain unstoppable power and Stephenson too succumbs to this hacky temptation, painting an America 30 years from now that has essentially broken down into a civil war between The Stupids and The Smarts , in which the Stupids have forcefully overtaken large swaths of the Midwest through a Christian version of the Taliban a brand new strain of Protestantism which rejects the entire New Testament because it depicts Jesus as a beta cuck, about the most lazily on the nose reference to the alt right one can even make , who then proceed to literally crucify people from burning crosses for such Old Testament sins as wearing clothes that mix together different strains of animal fibers Also, let me confess that I lost my patience quickly with Stephenson s attempts in this section to paint autistic people as superheroes, through his unending self righteous declarations about how much better he and his little STEM buddies are than the rest of us mouth breathers Autistic people aren t fooled by fake news Autistic people s feelings aren t hurt by blunt opinions Autistic people don t feel obliged to engage in pointless small talk Thank God we autistic people are around to save all you blathering morons from yourselves Then in the meanwhile, we also follow the fate of one of the characters from Stephenson s 2011 novel Reamde, billionaire videogame developer Richard Dodge Forthrast, who unexpectedly dies one day at which point it s revealed that, earlier in his life, he got convinced by a startup buddy to have his body frozen, so that maybe one day in the future his brain can be brought back to life if science ever invents a way to do so And through a convoluted series of events, science does in fact invent a way, and just two decades after his death at that, by essentially scanning a complete digital copy of the trillions of neural pathways in his brain, then letting those digital pathways virtually interact again within a town sized complex of newly invented quantum computers But this being a game developer, the first thing Dodge s digital brain does to make sense of his situation is to start building out a World Of Warcraft type fantasyland for him to place himself in, with Stephenson burning through literally hundreds of pages in describing in excruciating detail just what it must be like when a brain has its consciousness wiped, then starts filling it in again bit by bit from the retained memories of its subconscious What are these two fleshy appendages underneath my torso What are these ten smaller appendages attached to the bottom of these two What are these squiggly symbols I keep picturing when attempting to count these appendages What is this locomotive motion I seem to be engaging in when placing one appendage in front of the other What is this hard gravelly surface these appendages seem to be pushing against during its locomotion Jesus CHRIST, Stephenson, ENOUGH already, we fucking GET it, WE FUCKING GET IT ALREADY 1 It was at this point, already 400 pages in, that I finally lost my patience for good, and initially decided to abandon the novel altogether but just out of curiosity I ended up flipping through the rest of it and reading the increasingly smaller non virtual world parts, because I was simply too interested in knowing how the story ends up finishing out And that s when I realized that it s not actually the storyline itself that s the problem here when you look at the overall plot in quick big picture form, it s actually quite interesting, an attempt by Stephenson to do no less than retell the religious story of God s creation of the universe, his war with Lucifer, the manipulation of Adam and Eve as pawns of this war, the path towards self sentiency and human technological progress that was the fallout of this war s manipulation, and the final battle between good and evil that s foretold in the Book of Revelations, but all seen through the filter of the speculative question, What if our old religious stories actually came about because an alien race figured out a way to digitize themselves, and the first couple dozen people who got imperfectly digitized became the angels and devils of our Bible, and everything we know and experience in our universe is actually just the result of a giant computer running on this alien planet, and the aliens are actually watching and analyzing us in minute detail but have no way of communicating with us about it Seen in this light, then, the real problem of the novel becomes immediately clear because while Stephenson has claimed in recent interviews that his intent with the virtual world part of this manuscript was to bury a fantasy novel within the middle of a science fiction novel, what he actually did was write a slightly altered 500 page version of the King James Bible And as anyone who was ever forced to go through this during Bible summer camp as a kid knows, reading big chunks of the King James Bible as if it were a narrative novel is the most tedious activity in the entirety of human existence, which sadly turns out to be the case here too with Stephenson s rewritten version of it When examined in Wikipedia form, Fall actually has a lot of fascinating things to say, not least of which is Stephenson s ultimate conceit at the end, which is that maybe the human race s fate is to live on in body free, pure energy form, cruising the universe in a self perpetuating and self repairing Dyson sphere long after the fragile biological version of our species is dead and gone back on Planet Earth.If Stephenson had explored these topics through a tight, action packed 350 pages, it could ve been one of the best books of his already excellent career, exploring many of the same issues in his 2008 Anathem but through the prism of our real contemporary society So what a shame, then, that he instead turned in this profoundly overlong, page fluffing, endlessly rambling and pretentiously purplish version, a book that will be hard for even his hardcore fans to finish, and that everyone else will give up on long before that point It pains me to have to admit that, because up to now I had thought of Stephenson as an author who could do no wrong but alas, it turns out that he s just as capable of clunkers as every other author, his first major miss here in a career that s otherwise been full of hits As much as I hate to say it, my recommendation here is to skip Fall altogether, and wait a few years for what will hopefully be a return to his normal brilliancy. So I had some issues with this book, overall I liked it, but I found it was easier to separate into the good and the bad The Good One of his readable books, so no heavy technical nonsense like in cryptonomicon Features the Waterhouses, the Shaftoes, the Forthrasts and Enoch Root Topic of discussion is really cool as its all about the afterlife Ameristan is the most hilarious thingThe Bad As usual, its way too long, just under 900 pages When the book switches gears at the 3 4 mark and becomes a fantasy book it can be a pain to read in that, the pace slows down, too many characters in the other world, can be difficult to follow and therefore slow and boring The Meatspace human world parts of the book are the most interesting, so its a disservice when it becomes purely the other world for the half part of the book No ending, againOverall, I did like the book, but its got some major strikes against it which keep it from being on the level of Snow Crash and Reamde. Where have I seen this before We Are Legion We Are Bob Bobiverse 1 by Dennis E TaylorBob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch So it s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets The stakes are high no less than the first claim to entire worlds If he declines the honor, he ll be switched off, and they ll try again with someone else If he accepts, he becomes a prime target There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed Or so he thinks Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad very mad. Fall, or Dodge in Hell is a book that s hard to talk about because I find it basically fractally bad at any level I look at it, there s an interesting idea shot through with some fatal flaw, and so if I let myself I could go on at far too much length about any one of its problems At the highest level, it s a story about uploading human consciousness and the creation and organization of virtual realms, told with a tech bro s certainty in technology and obliviousness to anything else, plus also the casual misogyny then there s the story told about the uploaded, that attempts to be biblical without an understanding of morality, and fantastic without ever surpassing the level of 80s Tolkien imitators It s too bad the book wants to be Paradise Lost, instead of Frankenstein there would be a really good metaphor in something like this, pieced together from various half envisioned ideas, and brought to life as a monstrous whole that its creator cannot control That s not to say you couldn t enjoy reading this the certainty and declarativeness of the writing can carry you through a lot if you don t think too much about it but it would be best if you ve never read these ideas before, or if you re looking for something to reinforce your particular technological eschatology, or if you re a teenager with time on your hands On the other hand, let me offer some alternatives that have done better service to these ideas First, Peter Hamilton s Void Trilogy if you want long spanning future history and an ever expanding realm of uploaded consciousnesses, this has you covered, in spades Alternately, Elizabeth Bear s Grail it s much shorter, full of excellently realized characters, and deals thoughfully with the ethics of different ways of being human minds And finally, Matthew Stover s Heroes Die if you want a fantasy adventure in a world where modern people insert themselves to create epic drama without regard for the other inhabitants it s only tangentially similar, but even its dystopian capitalist hellscape is well realized than the realistic political events going on in Fall So yeah, there s a lot better stuff you could be reading instead don t spend your time on this unless you have to. A loose continuation of the author s other contemporary novels Cryptonomicon, Reamde sees brain scanning and uploading become a reality along with a digital afterlife modeled on Paradise Lost The story follows Richard Dodge Forthrast just before he dies, the events preceding his uploading and then the fate of the digital world he finds himself in while the real world changes around the existence of life after death.The book is interesting enough, although it engaged me much in the early stages as we look into Dodge s death, his upload and the actions around it, particularly with Corvallis and Sophia When most of the action moves to the bitworld it gradually lost me until the point where it just became a fantasy quest story filled with character after character that I didn t care about In terms of Stephenson tropes, this one feels a little lighter on with the infodumps than usual, but there s a lot of wry humor and poking at political realities that disturb the author In particular there s a section early on that s set in Ameristan that simultaneously addresses the fragmentation of US society between secular urban and rural religious while also having a poke at just how un Christian most of the performative Christianity of conservative America actually is The other Stephenson trope of hugely bloated and meandering prose is in full effect.Overall, while it has interesting elements and good characters in the first half, the characters in the bitworld are only caricatures at best and that whole sequence I found quite disappointing. Richard Dodge Forthrast, the creator of the world s most popular video game, dies suddenly, unexpectedly, and without updating his will So his heirs are obligated to cryogenically freeze him or find a way to upload his mind to a computer So begins this fractal of a novel filled with computer science, mythology, eschatology, corporate dirty tricks, life, death and what might come after Stephenson s digs down through layer after layer of what ifs Themes appear, disappear, and reappear A wild ride of unexpected ramifications that held my interest through all 800 pages So set aside some serious time because you will not want to put it down Oh, and you might want to brushup on your D Auliare s before you start.
- 896 pages
- Fall, or Dodge in Hell
- Neal Stephenson
- 10 October 2017 Neal Stephenson