I read Fall or Dodge in Hell in the past two weeks, reading the Dutch book Suikerbastaard in between.
Fall is about 900 pages, so it took a bit more time than average to read.
(spoilers below the image)
Neal Stephenson discussing The Fall, image by Christopher Michel, license CC-BY
The book consists of multiple distinct large parts on a timeline. Normal beginnings where a billionaire wants his body preserved until his brain can be properly scanned, a part where the internet is becoming obsolete due to too many fakes, hoaxes and trolling, a post truth US where religious cults are rampant in Ameristan i.e. the spaces between the urban areas that are still tied to reality, the part where the rebooted brain of the billionaire creates his own world, to be unseated as main deity by newcomers, and a quest to right that wrong.
Enoch Root makes an appearance again, entering quite dramatically, and seems to indicate he comes from a plane of existence that created our world as a simulation. Towards the end Zula says ‘I understand light speed now’ as an externally applied constraint, the limit posed by the processing power available to our virtual environment. The speed at which changes propagating from an event can be calculated determines the speed of causality in the piece of spacetime we’re in. That’s the moment Enoch Root says to her his task here is complete and he vanishes into the fog, suggesting he’s leaving our sim, to return to another plane of existence. Not so much turtles all the way down, as sims all the way up?
I met Mark Belfry earlier this year on Prince Edward Island, where he gave me his card which mentioned his book The Suncaster.
Enjoyed The Suncaster a lot. I think it is good, believable, and enjoyable SF, relatively near future (about 100 years)
The second book, The Somewhere Sun, next to pushing the story forward, is a bit more spiritual yet a spirituality based in quantum physics. Nice juxtaposition of vicious and virtuous cycles.
Looking forward a lot to book 3, unsure though if and when that will appear.
Charles Stross asks about blind spots in subject matter for science fiction. The posting itself is worth a read, and the over 500 comments are worth a browse just as much.
So I’m watching the live stream of the Indie Web Summit, and all of a sudden after some tech talk they invite William Hertling to the stage to talk about his book Kill Process. The book is about decentralised platforms and indieweb applications, in response to silos that become abusive to their users. I just started reading that book this week (having read his other works). Serendipity. Also another example of how near future SF, such as e.g. Walkaway, and current tech dev are mutually influencing each other.
I appreciate the work of science fiction author Charles Stross a lot (his blog is here). At the 34th Chaos Communication Conference (which took place in December in Leipzig, Germany) he gave an interesting presentation. He isn’t much of a presenter, reading from his notes, so go read the transcript that he posted (the video is online as well). With some deserved criticism of the singularity, and corporations as 19th century slow AI, as context blind single purpose algorithms.
And on how exploring the (near) future as SF is becoming more and more difficult:
“My recipe for fiction set ten years in the future used to be 90% already-here, 9% not-here-yet but predictable, and 1% who-ordered-that. But unfortunately the ratios have changed. I think we’re now down to maybe 80% already-here—climate change takes a huge toll on infrastructure—then 15% not-here-yet but predictable, and a whopping 5% of utterly unpredictable deep craziness.”