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Author: Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
From bestselling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed historical and contemporary commercial novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller combining history, science, magic, mystery, intrigue, and adventure that questions the very foundations of the modern world.When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money. Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world
After reading Stephenson’s Seveneves the first time, I thought, “Meh, it’s not his best.” On second read, I love Seveneves. So, now after reading The Rise and Fall of DODO the first time, I say, “Meh, it’s not his best,” but I confess I cannot say what the second read will bring. DODO is evocative of Stephenson’s fictional-historical System of the World, and his earlier work Zodiac, both great reads. But DODO has a lot of humor in it that you just don’t get in his earlier works.; maybe that’s Galland’s influence. If I read a novel that is incredibly fresh and new, filled with startling ideas, and peppered with brilliant dialogue and inner thought, it must be a Neal Stephenson novel. Still there’s something that is in his earlier works that I found missing in DODO. My favorite characters from every author ever include: Hiro Protagonist, Daniel Waterhouse, Sangamon Taylor, Fraa Erasmas, Dinah MacQuarie, and – of course – the inestimable Nell. Those are heroes, oftentimes assholes, filled with wonder, and they have brilliant arcs that make you love them more each time you read those books. In DODO, our two principle protagonists seem to be mirrors for the multitude of supporting characters. Tristan doesn’t seem to have an arc. I find it hard to find heroism or wonder or any quality in Dr. Stokes, she’s just there. I found the middle of the book to be overfull of a story-telling tactic that wasn’t tasty: Memos and interview notes are sometimes fascinating in novels in very small doses. They are a major part of the syuzhet in DODO, and it found me skimming ahead. The reveals in the Act 5 are thoughtful, with a few tasty surprises.
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