What a wonderfully fun ride! With all this political news and books, I needed some good light fun, but this is a long, “marshmallow”-like tome (New York Times metaphor) so be warned. I think I’m more open to fantasy these days – don’t know why – the escape of it maybe.
I’m not sure I knew what I was getting into – the Kindle and Audile samples were great but this is NOT Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem (the best sci-fi I’ve read in a decade), nor is it The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray, but the comparison is more apt.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
2017 / 754 pages (Kindle)
read by a cast of 6 – / 24h 27m
rating: 8 / sci-fi-time travel & great fun
(read and listened)
The story: Dr Melisande Stokes is hired as a translator of ancient languages by the very odd but charming Tristan Lyons. He has a well funded project underway, but it’s completelytop secret and confidential. But Melisande is bright and figures out that the name of the project is D.O.D.O. which she figures out to mean (shhhhh).
The job is to go back in time to when magic was real. Yes. Science and religion edged out the belief in magic, but due to Schrodinger’s Cat, there might be a way or a sense, in which … well … it was real. until photography came along.
So they have to find a witch who can use magic in the right circumstances, and they have to find a way to travel back in time. And for awhile the task is to find a book and some seeds. And that’s just for starters.
The story goes on for another 500+ pages made up of alternating strands, some moderately fast-paced with limited thinking necessary but including laugh-out-loud scenarios and dialogue. Interspersed are some fascinating snatches and accounts of science, medieval and ancient European/Byzantine cultures and US history up to 1851. I Googled some of the events and places and by golly – some sources came up. The historical research is excellent and detailed in surprising ways and it’s intricately woven into the main story.
So the D.O.D.O. group is looking for witches and has other tasks for some larger enterprise. Who they are working for and why is slowly revealed, but it seems mainly to gain control of the universe, past and present through the use of magic – (aka as a kind of quantum physics passed on through witches from the days prior to the crusades until 1850.
As far as I know the scientific gobbledy-gook is fine because time travel is fantasy anyway. I wouldn’t read this for any kind of literary value or for insights into human nature. It’s mainly a very creative romp.
I can kind of tell that Stephenson wrote the seriously techie stuff like time travel in the first chapters and that Galland wrote the more historical descriptions and the romantic/sexy scenes, but the D.O.D.O memos are a mix. Everything works together too, because the format is a series of diary entries, memos, emails, transcripts and such what.