Fall by Neal Stephenson


Fall; or, Dodge in Hell – Neal Stephenson

The biggest problem, other than the sheer size of the tomes themselves? I can come across as such a fan boy for this author’s work. But as a whole, and in places, it is considerate, well-thought out, and surpassingly nimble despite the epic proportions.

“His was a soul lacking any built-in adult supervision.” Page 34.

Always a turn of a phrase, poetic, so much information in short spaces.

There’s an element — two by the end of the first section — in part, it’s such a rich history that wends through a number of the author’s previous work, but then, too, it’s his delightful prose, somewhat stylized, and razor sharp.

“Crazytown was repelled by facts and knowledge, as oil fled from water, but was fascinated by the absence of hard facts, since it provided vacant space in which to construct elaborate edifices of speculation.” Page 267.

Yeah, we know that place. Some of us lived there.

There was a scenario from part way through, and I realized what it sounded like, the old world version of novel I last read some years ago. Hardwired is one of the great novels in the understanding of the myth of America and what our future might appear to be.

As I was reading, think the author is a Pluto-in-Virgo Scorpio, I had to marvel at a possible layer of satire, leavened in sandwich style. Or not.

Portions of my childhood were spent cruising up and down the bulk of the Louisiana Purchase, which echoes part of the background for some of the settings. The American West, the land of myth and mystery, lore, and not much more?

“Enoch seemed to take it as a cue to shift gears. “Suppose all of that comes to pass, Sophia, and you get that job and embark on that career. Twenty years from now, how will you know if you have succeeded?” Page 428.

I wrote a post about the up and coming 25 years of weekly horoscopes. Not where I thought I would be 25 years ago?

Good books have any number of sidebar items, why I am a fan boy of this author’s work, and I think linguists — language arts — where it all starts. After all, language is nothing more than an operating system for the brain, right?

Sidebar redux: There is no cloud.


Some years back, I had a rather sophomoric attempt at a novel. Successful as an exercise, but narrative that never took form. I let it be; doubt that are any fragments left. When the inevitable starts to occur in this novel, I was left wondering if that was what I was attempting, back then.

Moral, and metaphysical, issues open up, makes one wonder.

The term “Space Opera” came to mind, the sprawling epics from literary past?

Or a game, I played, on a computer, early years. Back when the graphics on a Mac were suddenly “advanced” compared to any other options. Yes, game that ran away with processes. Using a cheat, made it better. Much like that. Eerily reminiscent, I would suppose.

“Far outside the bounds of legit peer-reviewed research. More of a performance art project.” Page 521.

Where I find my work, and pause, think about it, much of cutting edge tech.

“It was a little bit like the world’s adoption of the Internet, which had started with a few nerds and within decades become so ubiquitous that no person under thirty could really grasp what life had been like before you could Google everything.” Page 569.

As solid an analogy as any? Don’t know if it will stand up to time, but certainly topical.

Getting to the end? Reminded me:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Arthur C. Clarke’s (Third) Law (circa 1940)


Cover Image

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell – Neal Stephenson

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