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Fall or, Dodge in Hell

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  14,082 ratings  ·  2,203 reviews

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. No

Hardcover, 883 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by William Morrow
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Corey Miller There are multiple references to characters and companies in Cryptonomicon as well, though thus far you don't need to understand anything from that bo…moreThere are multiple references to characters and companies in Cryptonomicon as well, though thus far you don't need to understand anything from that book to enjoy Fall.(less)

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Jason Pettus
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, " ...more
Will Byrnes
“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 d
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
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
If I wasn’t hoping that death is just an endless, dreamless slumber before then I sure am now.

Richard ‘Dodge’ Forthrast made billions with the video game company he founded, but money doesn’t help him when a routine medical procedure goes sideways and leaves him braindead. However, Dodge once signed up with a cryonics company to have himself frozen after death, and that old legal agreement becomes the impetus for his friends and family to pour resources into tech that eventually can digitally ma
Manuel Antão
Jun 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

April 1st: "Fall, or Dodge in Hell" by Neal Stephenson

Is 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.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 more 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 thing

The Bad:
- As usual, its way too long, just under 900 pages
- When the book switches gears at the 3/4 mark an
Jan 26, 2019 marked it as later  ·  review of another edition
Where have I seen this before...

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 a
Jul 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR: This is fundamentally a novel about people with morally obscene amounts of wealth fighting over who gets to be what kind of god in a digital afterlife. It does not engage substantially with any of the questions you might expect to arise in a world where people's consciousnesses can be saved and restarted in a virtual world after death.

Before I started this book, I read one review which said that Neal Stephenson had graduated from science fiction to "philosophical adventure novels," in whi
Jun 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
'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 a ...more
Heidi The Reader
"Not only can we defeat entropy, but the universe, in a way, wants us to use our powers as conscious beings to make things better. And part of that is defeating death." pg 50

I finally finished Neal Stephenson's latest book, an opus about the nature of reality that uses mythology, archetypes and technology as the instruments of that examination. Coming in at a hefty 896 pages, it will most likely be the longest book I read this year.

"Far from being a source of frustration, this comforted him, and
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, neal-s, sci-fic, audio
3.5 stars. A flawed, yet highly essential novel for the Neal Stephenson reader.

Interestingly, Fall or Dodge in Hell is basically a sequel to Reamde and contains the fate of many of those characters over entire lifespans. It's also in the Cryptonomicon (and apparently Baroque Cycle) universe. Reamde was an excellent and fun romp but not quite as philosophical and into the BIG IDEAS. Fall, however, is very much into the BIG IDEAS.

This book gets deep into many themes that have pervaded the Stephe
Peter Tillman
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, at-bg-pa
Neal Stephenson has written some great books over the years. This isn’t one of them — but it’s pretty good, except for his total lack of writerly discipline. 885 pages! A good editor would have blue-penciled half of these — including 3/4 or more of the boilerplate fantasy-quest stuff, most of which I skimmed or skipped. Gah.

The techie stuff, as usual, is well-researched, interesting and thought-provoking. Though my WSOD took a serious beating at (basically) all the rich people on the planet lini
Well, this is different. It's not at all what I expected (a fault, I admit, of my own Creation), given its connection to Reamde. It's a Giant, shambling, shaggy dog mess of a story and completely all over the place.

The first third Mr Stephenson was in technology heaven, riffing freely on all manner of deep questions concerning death, the continuation of consciousness, the digitisation of the (for want of a better term) 'soul' and all that jazz.

Then there comes a point where, over the course of
77th book for 2019.

After an initially interesting start, the book rapidly dwindles into a bit of a snooze fest with a digital afterlife strongly reminiscent of a MMORPG like World of Warcraft, which made little sense when looked at carefully. Greg Egan and Ian M. Banks have explored ideas about digital afterlives in far more interesting ways.

For those who like Stephenson's early books, this one can be skipped.

Jun 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't even begin to describe how excited I was to get this book and start reading. Not only that but once I got started I was totally and deeply engrossed in what was perhaps the best writing and story Neal Stephenson has come up with yet. A culmination and continuation of my favourite books and characters, I couldn't put it down and had a hard time trying not to stop people on the street and contact everyone I know to say "have you read this book? it's fantastic, it's amazing, it's fun and pr ...more
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 more in the earl
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I devoured this book immediately after receiving it. Absolutely top shelf Stephenson. This novel is absolutely overflowing with ideas and questions, any one of which would make me put the book down and have a bit of a think for a while. The amount of research and the presentation of knowledge is tremendous but not overwhelming. This is a book I will return to in a few months or so. Very highly recommended.
Lisa Wright
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 wil ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I think Neal Stephenson must mean something different than the rest of us by the word “novel.” Always, his works are sprawling monstrosities, more akin to several braided novels in one. When it works, it is superlative, and well worth any diversions into side stories or obsessions with details.

The initial setting of “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell” is a familiar one of obsessive/compulsive software game developers, who have become rich as a side-effect of their uncontrollable geekiness. Then enter the
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a SF novel about digitalizing consciousness.

The author, Neal Stephenson, often writes books, which in paper version can be used by powerlifters. 896 pages, over 31 hours of audio! Just like late Robert A. Heinlein he is in urgent need of an editor, who will cut the manuscript in half without losing all the great ideas. To answer a question whether other books (Reamde, Cryptonomicon) should be read to enjoy this one, No.

Richard “Dodge” Forthrast is a Silicon valley billionaire, who founde
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately I'm having to follow suit and agree with the majority. The first 700 pages were brilliant and easily 4/5 but everything after is boring AF. I skimmed the rest and I'm not ashamed to say so. Just a predictable drag. ...more
Steven Mastroyin
I'd like to give a little more than 3 stars but it's hard.

Generally though, 5 stars for meatspace, 2 stars for Bitspace. This seems to be the general consensus of reviews, and while I hate to agree with consensus, it's hard to find fault. I suppose like others I completely missed the point because the stories of Bitspace I found to just be so uninteresting, derivative, and boring. I guess the idea that the human mind would not be able to escape the trappings of human experience is interesting, b
Maine Colonial
This is a mix of techno-thriller, Creation/Gods myth and quest fantasy. I liked the techno-thriller, especially because it features Zula Forthrast and Corvallis Kawasaki (from Reamde, though you don’t need to read that first), Zula’s daughter Sophia, and several other full-fledged and interesting characters.

As the book description says, tech billionaire Richard “Dodge” Forthrast dies suddenly, his brain is preserved and, when turned back on, he (and others in the same circumstances) inhabit an e
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fall is occasionally exceptionally poignant, when Neal Stephenson chooses to engage with his near-future real world, with the wide implications of AR, automation, post-truth, culture-divides and even the implications of running an after-life simulation.

Most of the time, it's bogged down in it's own self-mythology created from the patrons of the transhumanist afterlife, with a few "I kid you not" moments of old-gods resembling greeks being ousted by judo-christian replacements souls complete wit
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gamers and gods, or at least would-be immortals...
Recommended to Alan by: Aerin, a Goodreads giveaway, and previous work
I picked up the first library book I'd been able to check out for five months on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday night I had already finished reading it.

That's right; it took me only a bit more than 24 hours to burn through Neal Stephenson's 883-page novel Fall; or, Dodge in Hell (that semicolon in the title appears and disappears, by the way, depending on where you look, but I like semicolons anyway so I'm leaving it in).

Maybe I should have paced myself.

On the one hand, Stephenson imm
Executive Summary: This book starts out quite strong, but as it goes on it becomes essentially two interconnected stories and I liked one of those stories a lot more than the other. 3.5 stars.

Audiobook: Malcolm Hillgartner did a solid job with the narration. I checked and he's the same narrator as Reamde so I appreciate the continuity. He does some voices, but nothing that really blew me away. Audio is a good option, but not really a must listen.

Full Review
Neal Stephenson has been one of my
Chaunceton Bird
It's true what they say about Neal Stephenson writing fiction by the pound. This one here is probably about three and a half pounds of fantasy with a sci-fi premise. The post-life mind uploading premise had me thinking I was in for a Neuromancer/Snow Crash type of cyberpunk story. However, while there are a few cyberpunk slivers, this book is largely fantasy based. Medieval world building type of stuff. And maybe I've lost my stomach for massive books, but I had a hard time getting through this ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rounded up from 4 1/2 stars. I loved this book & found it thoroughly engrossing. It’s sad to ponder but probably true that giving humanity a reboot into a digital universe would probably result in reformed superstitions & prejudices with the few using this to rule & the many falling back into subservient roles. Neal Stephenson in fine form.
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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