Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

Morrow. Jun. 2019. 896p. ISBN 9780062458711.$35; ebk. ISBN 9780062458735. SF
OrangeReviewStarThe latest from speculative fiction master Stephenson (Snow Crash, Anathem) is a behemoth that begins in the world of high-tech entrepreneurs in present-day Seattle and ends with characters—including a talking crow, a giant woman, Death in human form, and a troubadour—on a perilous quest in a purely digital world. The latter section evokes Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and Monty Python. The tale defies easy categorization but bears the hallmarks of Stephenson's work: fizzy verbal energy, consistent humor, deep immersion in technology, and frequent action sequences. The central idea is that citizens can sign up to have their brains digitally scanned after death, and that those scans can be turned into computer "processes." When activated, these processes form a conscious being, providing a type of life after death. The plot turns on the conflicts that occur when thousands of these beings meet in virtual reality.
VERDICT This sprawling, genre-hopping novel will thrill Stephenson's fans and engross newcomers. Epic is an overused adjective, but it fits here. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]

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