Fall; or, Dodge in Hell
Written by: Neal Stephenson
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Genre: Hard Science-Fiction
I loved Snow Crash. I loved Anathem. I loved Cryptonomicon, the entire Baroque Cycle, Seveneves, and Reamde. Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite writers and science-fiction is my favorite genre. But I did not love Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. In fact, I disliked it.
Like most of his books it has big ideas, lots of good characters, and unique settings, and for some of the first third of the novel these things all work well. Still, from the opening chapter onward there are signs that this book is not up to par with Mr. Stephenson’s other works.
The problem with this novel is not the ideas or the characters or the settings; instead its faults are in its many discontinuities, hurried and unentertaining prose, and the complete mess one might call the final 300 pages.
Despite a poor opening chapter and an entire early section that is wholly recyclable I found myself interested in the story and invested in the characters. I wanted to know what would happen and where they were going. This curiosity ends around half-way through the novel, at which point nearly everything that follows is boring and pointless. I became completely uninterested and don’t see how anyone might enjoy anything beyond the point which the Biblical plot takes over.
Not recommended for either Stephenson fans or science-fiction fans, which pains me to say, but I cannot respect this specific offering no matter how hard I try.