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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.
883 pages, Hardcover
First published June 4, 2019
“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.”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 more 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).
“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.”
PC Mag: What's the larger message you were trying to get across through the Moab hoax?The 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.
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 interview
We Are Legion - We Are Bob (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor
Bob 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.