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Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: The Rise and Fall of DODO

The Rise and Fall of DODO is a collaboration between Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. The novel is about the existence of magic: that magic once existed, but the invention of photography (and the entire enlightenment in general) wiped it out. The story involves two protagonists, Melisande Stokes and Tristan Lyons, who discover away to restore it, and then find out that because of the restricted circumstances under which magic may be used, the way to use it for military purposes is to do time travel.

The time travel premise is surprisingly well-worked out, with interesting consequences for major disruption to the timeline, and the "many worlds" theory requiring multiple trips to be able to effect even relatively minor change. The "made-for-Hollywood" nature of the novel requires these consequences to be huge special-effects-laden events, but that doesn't detract form the well-thought-out nature of the stuff.

The inter-character relationships are less well-done, with the villains being telegraphed almost right from the start, and no explanation of how those villains ended up being where they were. When things go south, we get a lot of rushing about but no real final resolution, in a "made-for-TV-series" ending which leaves all sorts of plot-lines dangling.

Unlike a lot of Stephenson's recent work, the novel itself is compellingly readable and fun. But the flaws more than outweigh the strengths when you get to the end. It's OK reading, and not a complete waste of time, but that's as much praise as I can give it.

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