Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

Richard "Dodge" Forthrast made his fortune by founding a successful gaming company. Now middle-aged, he enjoys the billionaire life in Seattle, spending time with his niece Zula; her daughter, Sophia; and his best friend/former employee, Corvallis. But when a medical procedure goes wrong and leaves Dodge brain dead, his surviving family and friends are confronted by a confusing will. In his younger days, Dodge had requested his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by shady tech titan Elmo Shepherd. Despite their misgivings, Zula and Corvallis cooperate with El in keeping Dodge's brain intact for future scanning and possible resurrection.

In time, technology advances to the point where Dodge's neural connections can be mapped in detail and digitally simulated. Thus, Dodge becomes conscious in a formless afterlife of chaos. Through long trial and error, he crafts this simulation into an island continent soon inhabited by other scanned souls. But when El dies, he has no intention of being ruled by the deity that Dodge has become. Eons pass in their struggle over this fantasy world, while decades go by on Earth, with millions of people soon uploaded into a far from utopian eternal life.

Fall is a stunning combination of science fiction and Tolkienesque epic fantasy. Neal Stephenson (Seveneves, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.) moves deftly between real and simulated worlds, following characters in both settings and the long-term consequences of their actions. Fall is biblical in theme and scope. At nearly 900 pages, Stephenson's bifurcated world is easy to get lost in. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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