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Labyrinth: Fall, or Dodge in Hell

A Novel
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Length: 31 hrs and 48 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

Non-member price: $41.78

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Publisher's 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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

An hour of good story in a few days of book.

Felt like a chore to finish. A few good ideas diluted with a whole lot of blah so that after a while I just didn't care about any of the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing!

Couldn't listen beyond chapter 2. Highbrow rambling about nothing! Narration was good. Save your money

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What happened?

Neil Stephenson is one of my top sci-fi writers, but this book is awful.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting and very dense

It is classic Stephenson, thought provoking and dense. It's a bit of a slog once DB is booted up, I don't know I would have finished it as a paper book. The narration is generally fine except when he tries to do an Australian woman's accent.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Two books merging

What begins as a near-future sci-fi tech novel merges gradually into a mythical allegory epic. The mix of genre and narrative style may not satisfy all readers.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

dull dull dull

dull dull dull dull dull with some big ideas that dont get fully developed. Definately not Stephensons best book.

refund time.

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  • Adam Mince
  • 16-06-2019

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.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Bauart
  • 20-06-2019

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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Corey
  • 20-06-2019

This is the worst book that has ever been written

I never leave reviews but I have seen too many positive ones here and I can not imagine a single person enjoying this novel. I love Stephenson. I loved Seveneves. I loved Snow Crash. This book is no Snow Crash.

The plot, such as it is, involves the creation of simu... you know what? It doesn’t matter. This is the worst book I’ve ever read. Half of it takes place in the near future, half of it takes place in a simulation that attempts to deconstruct the Bible but with less story and the most ham-fisted writing you can imagine. Neither half has any novel ideas or novel takes on existing ideas. Neither half has characters worth caring about. Neither half is particularly well written. Both halves are equally ponderous and pointless.

I am not kidding here, you may find yourself engaged by the first seven hours or so, but rest assured that all of those characters will disappear and most of the action will take place out of the narrative and be recounted later (or not).

Maybe you think you’ll be interested in the fantasy part of the novel? You won’t be. It’s like a knockoff of a knockoff of a Piers Anthony book that got translated from English to Korean to German then back to English. The main characters have names like Egdod (Dodge spelled backwards GET IT?) and Thingor (he makes things GET IT?)

I can’t believe anyone gave this garbage five stars. I’m actually angry at the people who did because they are so comically, objectively wrong. It is not a matter of opinion this book is just bad. At no point during the literal work week that I spent listening to this did it approach anything resembling a coherent story. I award it no points, may the lord have mercy on its soul.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mrevolved
  • 16-06-2019

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.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • G. Person
  • 13-06-2019

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.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Ed
  • 17-06-2019

very poor attempt to use the Adam eve story

frankly, it's a poor attempt of rewriting a fairy tail of the fall placed on a digital stage (garden). so much waste of potentially useful subject.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lars Terje Hellum
  • 17-06-2019

Struggled with the last half

First part is OK and showed a lot of potential for innovating sci-fi, but as the second part turned into some sort of fantasy novel with a simple and, honestly, quite boring quest, all the ideas and questions that had been spawned in my head where left for dead.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Brenda
  • 16-06-2019

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

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Glenn Caldera
  • 24-06-2019

I can’t get past 4 hours

I don’t feel this one is progressing - it’s really bogged down at 4 hours. I don’t feel like this is the book I ordered - which isn’t a problem if it’s a compelling story - but this is meandering. I’m returning it and looking for something better.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Missy Slim
  • 23-06-2019

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Len
  • 13-06-2019

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..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Toadjuggler
  • 08-06-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Fishamatician
  • 09-06-2019

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

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Christie
  • 23-06-2019

So disappointing ...

I have loved other Neal Stephenson books so i was very excited to start reading Fall. It started out so well and I was instantly enthralled by it. Then about a third of the way through, the writing changed to a pseudo-biblical style and the story became so very tedious. I persevered, hoping that the initial promise would be fulfilled, but eventually gave up after realising that listening to it felt like an obligation and I really didn't care about any of the characters nor what happened to them. Such a disappointment.

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  • paul
  • 23-06-2019

Touches of extraordinary brilliance with periods of detailed laden slowness

I KNOW it was part of the story to convey the timeshift, but it did get a bit slow sometimes.

As usual the depth of description and narrative were glorious.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam Redpath
  • 23-06-2019

pretty good

a point of performance. If an Australian accent is too hard please do not attempt.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Epitome22
  • 21-06-2019

A rollercoaster that plateaus and never comes down

I struggled to finish this, the first 14 hours were great, really great. The set up was amazing, the back half of this book took so much effort to plough through because it wasn't bad, it just wasnt interesting. Felt like a real waste of the setup

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Geoff Reid
  • 20-06-2019

Should be titled 'Fail'......

Not going to give any plot spoliers but this is definitely, in my meagre opinion, one of Neals least worthy offerings.

'Fall' is the sequel to REAMDE which, alongside Cryptonomicon and Snowcrash, is one of my favourite Stephenson novels and I was fully expecting Fall to build on and enhance the REAMDE story but, for me, Fall has had exactly the opposite effect.

'Fall' dives into a theme which is genuinely fascinating and thought provoking. REAMDE might seem like a perfect launching point for Fall, especially so given the industrial might and specialisation of Corporation 9592 but it instead managed to dilute and polute what was previously a strong and engaging story into something much duller, depressing and at times downright boring.

'Fall' also tips its hat to Randy Waterhouse, Amy (America) Shaftoe and Rudolph Von Hacklheber but luckily no damage is done to to the plot of Cryptonomicon or its glorious cast of characters.

In conclusion I think 'Fall' is a bit of a lemon. Unlike the rest of Neals books, which I have listened to several times over, I walked away from it several times, almost handed it back several times and decided to continue with it several times.

I won't walk away from Neal, I enjoy his stories far too much, but I doubt I'll listen to Fall again and I fear that Reamde is ireversibly altered for me to enjoy as thoroughly as I previously did.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 20-06-2019

masterpiece

Neal Stephenson weaves together the baroque cycle, the cryptonomicon and remade with Neuroscience trilogy and religion. it's brilliant.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • walter
  • 12-06-2019

Listener in hell

To begin with there was some brilliant speculative exploration on the nature of consciousness. Then interminable sub mythical realms on which I wished to hurl many the mighty thunderbolts until all was rent asunder.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful