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The Fortunate Fall

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Maya Andreyeva is a "camera", a reporter with virtual reality broadcasting equipment implanted in her brain. What she sees, millions see; what she feels, millions share.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1997 by Tor Books (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  368 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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I don't believe it.

I just realized that I haven't updated my top ten book list in my own mind for almost a decade. I certainly haven't modified my top three in over 25 years.

What I have just read has just supplanted number three. Perhaps even number two.

For the moment, I feel like it might have supplanted number one.

I cried like a baby when I closed the book, and even now I can't believe what I just read. It was lyrical and it unpacked with a density of a rushing locomotive. It was full of heart
Kyle Muntz
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kyle by: Boden Steiner
I was really interested when I found out this was the only book (apparently a catharsis novel) by a writer who emerged fully formed, became a cult-classic on some small level, and never wrote again. And it turns out for good reason. The tone reminds me a bit of Gibson, but really this is closer Neal Stephenson or Delany's late works: a complex, highly stylized book that touches on themes of technology, gender, consciousness, human nature, religion, etc. It's cyberpunk, which is my least favorite ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a cyberpunk SF novel, which while hasn’t got a serious attention when it was published (1996), now has an almost cult following. Additionally this is a debut novel and the author hasn’t published anything long (there was one short story) since.

Maya Tatyanichna Andreyava is a camera. This means she is a reporter with built in camera and feedback systems, so her watchers, don’t only see, but feel her emotions. Usually cameras work in tandem with a screener, a person, who monitors camera’s
Boden Steiner
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Found this review lost in one of my laptop folders. I'm not bothering to clean it up, but wanted to copy it here for safe keeping.:

Which brings us to one of those faraway shining stars, Raphael Carter’s 1996 novel, The Fortunate Fall.

["The whale, the traitor; the note she left me and the run-in with the Post police; and how I felt about her and what she turned out to be--all this you know."]

An opening line that would make Vonnegut proud, yeah? It’s all right there, all the important ‘w’s
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, heartbreakingly great first and only novel from Raphael Carter. There's Guardians and the Unanimous Army and ecological disaster and His-Majesty-In-Chains (one of the four kings of Africa, one of whom is unknown) and two people who've never met in person but have a deeply personal and unrequited connection between them. So much happens in this novel and so much of it could sound ridiculous and instead it is melancholy and hopeful by turns. It's about politics and personal relationships ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
it didn't come together for me until the end, but the conclusion really made me appreciate the book more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Imagine Neal Stephenson, but terminally serious, with a little John Barnes and Paul Levinson and William Gibson and Tiptree thrown in for seasoning. And you might get something like this book. Mind-blowing, avoids a lot of SF clichés, not at all didactic — you have to think, it doesn't explain or info-dump. It hurt a little to read. If you insist on happy endings this is not for you. I wonder if I had read this before. It seemed faintly familiar, but at the same time, that I might have forgotten ...more
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books
God, this book is so beautiful and so terrible. So weird, weird, weird. It ripped my heart out and won't give it back. And I can't stop thinking about it. It's hard to move on from something like this.

...the central fact of the human condition: that each of us lives behind one set of eyes, and not another; that our own pain is an agony, and another's pain only an abstraction we believe in by an act of faith.'s only love. It doesn't mean you want to fuse souls with someone. And it doesn't sa
Bogi Takács
I will be reviewing this elsewhere and I'll try to remember to link to it when it goes up. Announcement later (soon, IY"H) but I sold a QUILTBAG+ #DiverseClassics column to a major venue. \O/

Source of the book: Anonymous Benefactor purchased it for me from my Amazon wishlist!
Abe Mamet
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
This is the best book of ever.
With a half star rating system, this would be 2 1/2 stars rather than 3.

Tedious, talky, and clumsily written, this drowns good ideas in leaden dialogue and cod philosophy. All too often, it reads like a poor translation of substandard Dostoevsky updated to the cyber era by a middling undergrad theology student. In fact, if this hadn't been nominated for a Nebula award in 1996 and been so often declared a minor classic in years since, I would have DNFed this at 50% when it became clear this stor
Miss Ginny Tea
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Miss Ginny Tea by: feminist SF
Shelves: read_2012
I remember a movie review that went something like "you walk away feeling not as if the film failed you but as if you failed it." That's kind of how I feel about this book full of philosophy and cyberpunk and resistance and did I mention philosophy? But, wow, was it a good read.

Caveat: The 18-year-old science shows its age, but not in any way that interferes with the story too much.
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
How appropriate that, after I started reading this, a computer memory woke up and told me I'd read it before (in 1996).
Bunny Blake
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
What a weird and beautiful book. Literary dystopian post-cyberpunk that reminds me in places of Neil Stephenson (Snowcrash & The Diamond Age), Jeff Noon, and Blade Runner. The protagonist is a female Russian journalist full of aging cyberware -- a "camera" who transmits full-sensory telempathic recordings of the stories she reports. Every camera has a "handler", an editor who filters the camera feed in realtime before it goes to an audience. This is a strangely intimate working relationship, whe ...more
Sharon d
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
This is one of those odd sci fi novels... that at first you're unsure of, but ends up totaly rocking your world. Set in a futuristic world, it is the story of love trying to survive when all of your emotions have been supressed - deprogramed, and you are not the only one inside your head.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, favorite
Highly creative, this book feels like it could be written next year not 20 years ago.
Fraser Simons
“In print news your job is to know things about others, you peer out at the world through an arrow slit. In telepresence you are known. If I'd still been writing for a newspaper—if there still were newspapers—I could have forgotten...”

In 1996 Raphael Carter wrote The Fortunate Fall. For perspective, Neuromancer came out only 12 years previous and this book is already placed squarely in post-cyberpunk. Normally I'd scoff a little at that..but I have to say that is more of an acknowledgment of thi
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
In "The Fortunate Fall" Raphael Carter attempts to write a science fiction book where you are thrown into the deep end and left to figure out the world without anything being spelled out for you. Authors can use this strategy to fantastic effect, just look at Gene Wolfe's body of work. With Wolfe, though, you always feel like there is more than enough information provided to piece everything together if you think about it seriously enough. Reading Carter it feels more like he has the world in hi ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A reporter in a Russian of the future does more than tell a tale... she sees it, feels it, and the audience is wired into her brain to feel it through her, almost live, ideally with some of the personal or embarrassing bits edited out by a screener. Maya is one such reporter, and she's doing a story about the anniversary of a set of atrocities in a prior war, and working with a new, untested screener. But as she follows the story, she uncovers a lot more than she expected about both the world, a ...more
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Fortunate Fall is a weird book, but it's wonderfully weird. Carter manages to create a cyberpunk dystopian setting that doesn't overshadow the intense psychological drama that drives the novel towards its devastating conclusion. Even though Maya has a skull full of sockets and chips, she is intensely, almost unbearably, relatable.

From the very first chapter, I was swept up in the torrent of Carter's prose. She immerses the reader into this world in medias res and never really pauses for bre
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rainbow, spec-fic
If I'd written this review in 1996, I probably would've given it five stars. But cyberpunk, of all genres--as much as I have always loved it and always will--ages poorly. Everything about this book is beautiful and wonderful except for the bits where it gets bound too deeply in proving cyberpunk chops, which it thankfully only does a couple of times.

It is, at its heart, a queer love story and a story of rebellion against oppressive forces. And it does that with power and grace. In fact, the othe
Matthew Frack
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pretty much what I wanted Neuromancer to be. The first book I've read in one sitting for a long time. Complex enough that I'm going to have to come back and reread it at some point, but bleak enough that it won't be for a while.
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
It was Ok. I mean, it's a sci-fi novel with queer content and fighting of a dystopian regime by the underdogs AND Russia, so that's all to the good, but it didn't really do it for me. There were too many times that I wasn't sure what the author was trying to show me, and while I wasn't bored, it was fairly gripping, still I wasn't terribly engaged either. I put it down like 3 pages from the end for a half a day which says something about my level of investment in finding out what was going to ha ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It only took me four (five?) separate tries to finish this book. That's actually not a reflection of its worth, but of how dense and thinky it is. It's not an easy book to read while distracted. (Unlike, say, manga.) The first chapter is brilliantly written; it hints at just enough to pull the reader in, and when you reread it after having finished, you realize that all the pieces were there in front of you in the first place. The book is also remarkably not dated for being cyberpunk that was wr ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I heard a lot about this "forgotten" spec fic classic and was worried that it could never live up to the hype. About 25 pages in, I was convinced it would underwhelm. And then...I suddenly couldn't stop reading it.

This book is a phenomenal achievement of future visioning through literature. Even 20+ years after it was published, it is still prescient, hilarious, and disturbing. I can't stop thinking about it and, more importantly, I don't want to.

May 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Woah. This book was really weird. As a whole it was too cyber-oriented for me to really get into it--but towards the very end it got pretty good, with ruminations on good and evil, homophobia, conformity and memory. But it was also bizarre. Not quite sure what I thought of it. But I think I liked it.
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2014
Fans and publishers alike must be sad this is Carter's only novel to date, as the universe established in this 1996 post-cyberpunk creation is rife with juicy opportunities for prequels and sequels. Another one deserving discussion but hard to talk about without spoilers. 4.6ish IMO, which gets it a 5 on this chunky rating system.
Chris Haggqvist
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking. I imagine that Carter felt he couldn't possibly follow this book with anything, so instead he just stopped writing; which is a huge shame, because this book is so full of interesting ideas that I'm sure she must have more somewhere in her head. (I'm aware of the pronoun switches, according to the internet Carter does not identify as either sex)
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
If you are interested in speculative fiction re virtual reality, you will be fascinated by this author's imaginative take on what could happen with the intersection of technology and humanity in another few hundred years. I gave it just three stars because it requires concentration and is not the easiest book to absorb but it is worth it.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Excellent--complex, surprising, and earnest. All cyberpunk dystopia and haunting loves. But godspit, it was confusing. So confusing in fact that I will have to re-read it just to make sense of what the hell went on ...
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Raphael Carter is an American science fiction author whose work, while sparse, has met with considerable acclaim.

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