I don’t read much science fiction, but when Neil Stephenson publishes a new book, I always read it. In “Fall or Dodge in Hell,” Stephenson provides a half technothriller book (like Reamde) and half fantasy rewrite of Paradise Lost. His books are always long, engaging, and make you think. However, unlike his other books, it was only the first part of the story that I found to be engaging.
The first part of the book has some interesting/scary ideas about America’s future. Most of the book is set 20+ years in the future, and there are two Americas: modern, well-run techno-utopian cities and Ameristan — rural areas that have “Facebooked.” In Ameristan, the group-think echo chambers of Facebook have manifested themselves in the geography of small-town America. These towns are isolated from each other by certain beliefs and political ideology. Outsiders beware!
Everyone (city folk and Ameristans) wear AR glasses to filter out any images or events that don’t fit their belief system from their view. And even worse, additions are made to what you see to confirm your beliefs further. If you believe in the Roman gods, then whenever you see lightening, the AR glasses will show Zeus pitching the lightning from the heavens.
Spoiler: A big part of the story is the digitization of the main character’s brain after his untimely death. Once uploaded to the cloud, Dodge’s brain struggles with making sense of the world. It made me even more convinced that I don’t want to be preserved or uploaded after I die!
While I listened to the end, and it ends on a happy note (I guess), I don’t think I would recommend this book unless you are really into fantasy or this particular author.
Amazon Link: Fall, or Dodge in Hell.