Neal Stephenson’s Fall

Another thousand-page tome from the wonderful Neal Stephenson!

Well, no, it’s actually only 880 pages — but that’s close enough. It’s still worth every minute (or should I say “every day”?) that it takes to read it. Basically, Fall: Dodge in Hell is about a near-future world in which the technology for scanning human brains is advanced enough that it’s possible to preserve consciousness after death — in a virtual world on a server in the Cloud rather than in a physical body. Life-after-death essentially becomes a MMORPG, because all of these consciousnesses (or their avatars) can interact digitally. The book goes back and forth between the so-called “real” world and the digital world, but the large majority of the text is in the digital world.

Stephenson has created a rich environment full of folklore and mythology. There are plenty of resonances with Greek and Norse mythologies, and probably others that I didn’t recognize. The virtual world is taken over by a billionaire who wants everyone to worship him; “coincidentally” his name is El. There’s also a fair amount of politics concerning a future in which the internet has been destroyed by such personalized newsfeeds that everyone sees only the news that they want to see, and a civil war has split the United States into red areas (mostly rural) and blue areas (mostly urban). Hmmm…

Anyway, read it!


Categories: Books, Technology