Talking with Neal Stephenson about his latest book, "Fall; or, Dodge in Hell"

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Saw Neal Stephenson last night for readings / Q&A and signing. I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy of Fall and am looking forward to reading it!!! :smiley:

EDIT: Removed unnecessary modifier from the title.


loving it, despite the 880-page length, which contains some draggy sections.

Some people would argue that this description fits every novel Stephenson has ever published.

Stephenson is surely aware of this perception; in the forward to Quicksilver he writes:

Of particular note is Sir Winston Spencer Churchill’s six-volume biography of Marlborough, which people who are really interested in this period of history should read, and people who think that I am too long-winded should weigh.


I love his stuff but I had to start Anathem about 5 times before I got sucked into it and finished. I loved the book just I would read 20-30 pages put it down start something else and then try again.


Sounds familiar. I have this relationship with Moby Dick.

Gravity’s Rainbow.

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But does it include the phrase “plane change maneuvers are expensive?”

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I’m 1/3 of the way in, and “meandering” comes to mind (a polite way of saying “draggy”). But it’s good meanders


I’m about 3/4 of the way through it – can confirm it is long with some draggy sections, but the not draggy parts are great.

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Finished it this morning and loved it! Thought I caught a couple PDK homages in there.

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Still haven’t finished Gravity’s Rainbow…

“…his critique of the collapse of consensus reality (the section on this is a real standout).”

I’d say this portion is the only worthwhile part (and it is great! and it’s the initial section!) The fantasy portion is not vividly written, and the later interspersed RW segments are not really worth much. I wish I’d stopped reading when the fantasy started.

Typically for NS, the book as a whole has far too many POV characters.

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Oh, those Novelist-Engineers, they love their cautionary explanations.

Stephenson muses on cautionary explanations in Cryptonomicon: Randall Waterhouse makes the narrative observation that former soldier Doug Shaftoe is forever explaining things, offering practical advice; Randy surmises that soldiers share practical advice because doing so offers a survival advantage on the battlefield.

I’m about two thirds through. I was intrigued by the filter bubble road trip and I was surprised it hasn’t come up again. The whole Facebooked red States vs woke blue states thing seemed right down Stephenson’s alley. I wanted to see the other side of it as well.

Well, Zodiac and The Big U are a lot smaller than that, more like SF paperbacks were in the 60-70’s, before the trend for ever longer/bigger novels and even longer/bigger series became the norm.
Zodiac is one of my favourite books, btw.

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Do tell. (PKD and Stephenson are both permanent members of my mental security council.)

Well, the bitworld is a vast active living intelligence system, Sophia figures prominently in both Fall and VALIS, and both books feature a certain detention facility made from light absorbing ferrous metal.

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