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Old 06-09-2019, 06:03 PM
Hoops is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 533

New Neal Stephenson book: “Fall, or, Dodge in Hell” [SPOILERS]

This week, Neal Stephenson’s new book Fall, or, Dodge in Hell came out. I’ve just finished it, and I’m here to talk about it!

But first, about those spoilers. There is a certain aspect to this book that, as a longtime Stephenson reader, I totally didn’t expect and was quite tickled to discover. And in my humble opinion, if you too are a longtime Stephenson reader, you might want to put off reading this thread until you have read the book.

As may be obvious from the title, this is a sequel to REAMDE, which is possibly not the first book that Stephenson fans might read and think, “That needs a sequel!” REAMDE is after all primarily a Stephensonian take on a modern techno-thriller. I actually quite like it, but it’s not necessarily what I’m looking for when I want to read him.

Fall, however is a different kind of book; it gets much more speculative, and gradually moves further into the future. Here's the official blurb.

So how was it? I liked it better on first read than Seveneves, which I didn’t have much use for at first (though I’ve since reread it a few times and have learned to forgive its flaws). It has one long section that seems like it could’ve been a novella in its own right, but in the larger context of the book seems to have had its premises annoyingly dropped and not adequately explored. By the end, it’s basically high fantasy in the digital afterlife, with much discussion of Quests (capital Q included) and a sort of D&D vibe (there’s even a bard!). And of course, the whole thing is shot through with imagery from Genesis and Paradise Lost.

As for the aspect that led me to issue a spoiler warning:
As you start to read, you naturally expect to meet characters from REAMDE. But as you go on, you also start to see other familiar names that you might not have expected. Waterhouse. Shaftoe. Enoch. Yes, in some sense, this also is a sequel to Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle!

Or sort of. These Waterhouses and Shaftoes are strictly behind the scenes, mostly seen in names of foundations and the like. Enoch Root, on the other hand does appear in a more than cameo role, doing pretty much what he did in Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle: nudging characters in certain directions, giving forth monologues that frame the issues at hand philosophically, and dropping coy hints about his age.

Anyway, anyone else read this yet? Looking forward to other opinions!

Last edited by Hoops; 06-09-2019 at 06:06 PM.