Sci-fi ‘Fall’ blends high tech and high fantasy

Neal Stephenson
Science-fiction author Neal Stephenson, shown here at a 2018 Town Hall event in Bellevue, Wash., uses Seattle as a setting in his latest novel, “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell.” (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Are we living in a simulation? Is there an afterlife? And if not, what would it take to create one? Seattle science-fiction author Neal Stephenson knits together ideas as old as the Bible and as up to date as Elon Musk’s musings in an epic 880-page novel titled “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell.”

“Fall” takes its rightful place alongside Stephenson’s earlier works, including 1991’s “Snow Crash,” which anticipated the rise of virtual and augmented reality; 1995’s “The Diamond Age,” which celebrated nanotechnology and neo-Victorianism; and 2015’s “Seveneves,” a tale that started with the moon’s mysterious destruction.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates rated “Seveneves” among his favorite books, saying that it contained “so many cool ideas, memorable characters and good storylines that I can’t cover them all.” I can hardly wait to hear what he says about Stephenson’s latest.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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