Listen free for 30 days

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

A Novel
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Length: 31 hrs and 48 mins
4 out of 5 stars (148 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seveneves, Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon returns with a wildly inventive and entertaining science fiction thriller - Paradise Lost by way of Phillip K. Dick - that unfolds in the near future, in parallel worlds.

In his youth, Richard “Dodge” Forthrast founded Corporation 9592, a gaming company that made him a multibillionaire. Now in his middle years, Dodge appreciates his comfortable, unencumbered life, managing his myriad business interests, and spending time with his beloved niece Zula and her young daughter, Sophia.   

One beautiful autumn day, while he undergoes a routine medical procedure, something goes irrevocably wrong. Dodge is pronounced brain dead and put on life support, leaving his stunned family and close friends with difficult decisions. Long ago, when a much younger Dodge drew up his will, he directed that his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by enigmatic tech entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd. Legally bound to follow the directive despite their misgivings, Dodge’s family has his brain scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud, until it can eventually be revived. 

In the coming years, technology allows Dodge’s brain to be turned back on. It is an achievement that is nothing less than the disruption of death itself. An eternal afterlife - the Bitworld - is created, in which humans continue to exist as digital souls. 

But this brave new immortal world is not the Utopia it might first seem... 

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.

©2019 Neal Stephenson (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved

More from the same

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    8

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    86
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    17
  • 1 Stars
    7
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I'm a big Neal Stephenson fan, but...

"Snow Crash" manages to be both my favourite Cyberpunk novel AND my favourite Cyberpunk parody at the same time. "REAMDE" is the best techno-thriller I've read. "Cryptonomicon" is just a masterpiece of fiction, magnificent beyond my ability to describe it. I have read pretty much everything else he's written and enjoyed it all, so I was really looking forward to this fresh volume. But...

...this book is boring. Don't get me wrong, the first third is classic Stephenson, huge ideas rushing at you faster than you can deal with them and all leavened with Neal's wry wit, but it starts to drift about half way through and then, by the three-quarter mark, I was just bored. I can't actually explain just what was so dull without major spoilers, so I won't, but there are hours of entirely superfluous and entirely tedious writing in the last half of this book. I did something I have never done with a Stephenson novel before; I turned it off and am now listening to something else. I'm not going to return it as I will probably have another crack at it but currently I am so disappointed.

One note on the narration: if you can't do an accent don't even try. One of the main characters is an Australian and the accent Mr Hillgartner does is closer to Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins" than it is any Aussie accent that I have ever heard. A shame, the narration is otherwise excellent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Toooooooo long by half

An interesting if well trodden theme. The first half of the book was interesting but the second was interminable,a fantasy story (ish) which lacked anything even approaching warmth and interesting characters. I have been a huge fan of Stephenson ever since I read The Cryptonomicon many years ago and loved both ReamDe and Anathem but this is a poor continuation of the former. To be classed alongside Seveneves as his poorest novel to date . Credit to be refunded..

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

World building fun but don’t look for tidy endings

Stephenson’s style is to introduce an idea and then give it a life of its own. In this way you feel the connections, the effect of chance and realise that when enough simple interactions overlap you cannot predict what will emerge from the chaos. This book is part idea and part journey, a combination, if you like, of his idea books like Anathem and the Baroque Cycle. I enjoyed it immensely but, as usual with NS, you will have to put in the listening work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

laborious, over-hyped, avoid

Reads at first like some of William Gibson's later works, think of Hubertus Bigend etc. But is stretched out too far, and quite tedious. Perhaps the book would be better abridged.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

utterly boring

just a mess of a book! its like Stephensen picked up Neuromancer, Lord of the Rings and the Bible and tried to stick them all together! the reader only has 2 voices which is crap considering the book has 50+ named characters and its impossible to tell them apart. gather all copies of this book, burn them, fire the ashes into space and lets all pretend this 30 hour mess never happened

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

OK but...

I've read all neals other books and loved them but this one was a struggle, the first half was good but as it went on became more of a slog to get through, the last couple of hours were the worst and I ended up skipping forward a fair bit, I know he is famous for his non endings and usually they're mostly OK however this was really unfulfilling.
I've never read paradise lost so maybe I'm missing something.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Interesting start but a disappointing middle and end. Good narration spoiled buy some awful accent work. I have enjoyed other of Neal Stephenson'books much more.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

talk about bringing a lot of threads together!

more excellent stuff from Neal as he explores some adjacent themes to what was in Anathem and Seven Eves. nature of reality, creation myths... all wrapped in an adventure which, though not as action based as Reamde, still has a good dose of that world...

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Words fail me, this book is awful

I used to rave about this author but this is so bad on so many levels, the basic premise of cryogenics is so you can be brought back to life, not “booted up” as a character in “bit world” some sort of “Old Testament 2.0” where people say things like “the room was lit by things that burn...” really...? And to claim that people actively want to die and go there? That people watch what must be the most boring reality tv show ever? And servants? Who wants to spend eternity as a servant?
I thought this would be a thought provoking story about consciousness, memory, the soul, what is life etc could you preserve and restore someone’s essence after death? But the author used lazy shortcuts, everyone is fabulously wealthy, can do anything and buy anything, go anywhere, there is never any tension and as soon as Ye Olde Worlde kicked in I knew where the story was going and lost interest. Another rambling yarn that needed serious editing.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

meh?

I think I finished the book, at least the *story* stopped at some random point.
Really not sure what to think about this one. perhaps I'm not clever enough to grasp the narrative thread.
I really can't recomend this which is a pity, I've really loved Stephenson's other works.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Barry McWilliams
  • Barry McWilliams
  • 24-06-19

Tedious & Mannered 2nd Half

Some great ideas that get buried in overly mannered, stilted language. I found the entire second half of the book to be nearly unbearable, listening to faux “olde tyme” language that stripped every character of personality. I grok that this is a parable, but it’s excruciating.

I remain a huge Stephenson fan, and will surely buy his next book, but this one is a huge disappointment.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew
  • Matthew
  • 21-06-19

No editor was allowed a say in this....

I do not recommend this book. I’d love to, oh so much how I would love to, but I can’t.

Stephenson is an all-time favorite author of mine, so I give him a lot of leeway, and it’s probably why I got to the halfway point in this book instead of quitting earlier. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish this book. The reason? I’m fairly sure that no editor got any say in this. First of all there is no cohesive story or plot. Second, the passages just go on and on with no real purpose and without adding anything. Third, there is a time skip that is similar to if in Seveneves it went from the moon exploding on the first page to Part 3 with no explanation of how or why. So out of nowhere there is this whole new scenario that is completely different from the preceding two parts, but then it is dropped and never comes into play! It felt like it existed only so Stephenson could be preachy about his views, and I agree with those views and I thought it was too preachy!

So no, once again, I cannot recommend this book. The characters at their best are nothing but one dimensional cutouts, the worlds could be interesting, but they are hardly explored beyond surface level or just retelling 3rd grade history or theology. And everything just drags on and on repetitiously without purpose or pay off like his previous books would have.

I mean dangit, I was REALLY looking forward to this book.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bauart
  • Bauart
  • 20-06-19

What Did I Just Listen To?

The premise of "Fall" is great. It's advertised as a fascinating near-future science-fiction novel by an established well-known author (Stephenson) about brain-scanning and life after death... Cool! I was all in! So much potential!

What was NOT mentioned in the book's blurb was that the brain-scanning and rebooting of a human after their death is just a setup for a quasi-religious teen-gamer story about magic fairy-tale creatures akin to trolls, gremlins, angels, and demons. Half or more of the book is just a silly quest to find a giant metal key to open a gateway for the return of "Egdod" (Dodge spelled backwards.... get it?), and a BIG chunk of that is a re-imagined Adam and Eve story (which comes to a clumsy and fuzzy conclusion).

The biggest disappointment of "Fall" is that when you're rebooted up after death, you can no longer recall who you are. Your old "meat-space" identity is (mostly) gone. So as the reader you're left confused as to why Stephenson even bothered with each characters LONG back-story? If I arrive in a new world after death thinking I'm a magical flying demigod, what is the point going into extreme painful detail about who I used to be? The characters didn't even know who they were, so I as a reader really had zero reason to care who they just became.

There are so many dead-ends and pointless side stories in this epic it becomes frustrating trying to keep up, and ultimately meaningless since most of it is needless extrapolation.

123 of 132 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ron
  • Ron
  • 20-06-19

This is TERRIBLE

Imagine your friend gets really stupendously high and starts thinking out loud about the potential parallels between the start of a VR world meant for uploaded copies of humans (where conveniently everyone loses their memory during the upload despite having their entire brain scanned and simulated, but overlook that, he's high.) and the creation myths in our own world. Now imagine he talks about it for 31 interminable hours.
Sound awful? Wait, there's more. Characters in the VR world don't remember contractions, or the names of things, so the talk like babies for 20 of those 31 hours about painfully obvious things and to ham-fistedly deliver morality lessons.

This is not just the worst Neil Stephenson book I've listened to, it might be the worst period.
As one of the terrible characters in this book would put it: "The word stories from the talking box brought no pleasure and thus I turned away from them and called them bad."

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brenda
  • Brenda
  • 16-06-19

Two many disconnected themes and threads

Problematic all around:

- There was zero need to re-use characters from Reamde into this
- Abandoned early theme of fake news and personalized feeds - no need to even have it
- There was no purpose for the conflict between the D and L given both could have independent worlds
- No real concern that virtually nobody who went into simulation land to live forever had any real connection to their former selves, thus were just as good as dead anyway
- Yeah... it went downhill from there

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Missy Slim
  • Missy Slim
  • 23-06-19

Least Favorite Audio Book of All Time

Agree with other reviewers, first 3rd was okay. At the point where Dodge is reintroduced, the book hits a brick wall. Then, for many many many hours, it repeatedly hits that brick wall. There are very few audio books I've truly hated as much as this one - now added to the top of my list of Least Favorites.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Adam Mince
  • Adam Mince
  • 16-06-19

Nothing At Stake

This story has no momentum. Heavy on concept, very light on plot, nil on character development. This story's predecessor, Reamde, was a page turning plot-fueled juggernaut full of fun characters, given beautiful voice by the same Malcolm H. Fall's cast is much the same as Reamde's but these once familiar and likeable characters feel more like fence posts than people, now.

If this novel were a photograph its compelling subject would be off-center and partially cropped out of frame. You'll find good ideas and beautiful prose that you want more of, but you'll be left hungry and buried beneath the superfluous stuff that comprises first sixty percent of the book or so. The reason the superfluous stuff feels the way it does is because the story's premise is anchored in a future time, and extends into a much later and more alien future time. It comes across as a huge amount of speculation about the coupling of future tech and future society and, while the speculation is sharply imaginitive and compelling, it just can't drive a novel forward on its own. The pacing of the story is awkward too, shifting from hard exposition into a much more poetic and metaphysical form of telling, roughly halfway through.

Like a plain turkey sandwich with sweet PB&J in the middle instead of more processed meat, this novel could have benefitted greatly from an earlier decision about what kind of book it was really supposed to be.

If you haven't read Reamde yet, maybe you'll like this title? Maybe. It makes me wish that Audible allowed returns or exchanges in warranted cases, though.

49 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for j phillips
  • j phillips
  • 04-07-19

3.80 stars......a bit disappointed

While this novel isn’t marketed as such, it is a sequel to Reamde, which I didn’t love but liked enough to try this one. Twelve hours into this novel, I would have said this was a much better audiobook than Reamde. Then, it started to lose steam and slowly petered out. By the end, I wasn’t interested in the outcome. Some of the interesting storylines were abandoned, and there was a lot of filler. Still, I stuck with it til the bitter end.

Overall rating: 3.80 stars.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for G. Person
  • G. Person
  • 13-06-19

So lost

I enjoyed the first 1/3 or so but after that was just listening because I like the narrator. I loved reamde and others but this one just didn’t seem to have a coherent story, especially in the bitworld.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for mrevolved
  • mrevolved
  • 16-06-19

Glad it’s over

First third was interesting and presented some challenging concepts about consciousness. After the first third the storyline got silly and difficult to follow.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful