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The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
Cover of The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
A Novel

A New York Times Bestseller

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 "jams" the "frequencies" used by magic, and it's up to Tristan to find out why.

And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.

Written with the genius, complexity, and innovation that characterize all of Neal Stephenson's work and steeped with the down-to-earth warmth and humor of Nicole Galland's storytelling style, this exciting and vividly realized work of science fiction will make you believe in the impossible, and take you to places—and times—beyond imagining.

A New York Times Bestseller

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 "jams" the "frequencies" used by magic, and it's up to Tristan to find out why.

And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.

Written with the genius, complexity, and innovation that characterize all of Neal Stephenson's work and steeped with the down-to-earth warmth and humor of Nicole Galland's storytelling style, this exciting and vividly realized work of science fiction will make you believe in the impossible, and take you to places—and times—beyond imagining.

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About the Author-
  • Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Reamde, Anathem, The System of the World, The Confusion, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac, and the groundbreaking nonfiction work In the Beginning . . . Was the Command Line. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 1, 2017
    Immense and immensely entertaining genre-hopping yarn from hard-core sci-fi veteran Stephenson (Seveneves, 2015, etc.) and historical novelist Galland (Stepdog, 2015, etc.)."You have an agreeably uninteresting existence," says the shadowy government recruiter. "Let's see if we can change that." Our heroine, a brilliant specialist in ancient languages, cannot refuse, especially since the pay packet Tristan Lyons is offering is many times more than her adjunct position pays. With that, they're off--but where? Blend time travel with Bourne-worthy skulduggery, throw in lashings of technology and dashes of steampunk, and you have the makings of this overstuffed, disbelief-begging storyline. That storyline begins and ends with language, but in between there's a fair amount of outright mad science, courtesy of the inventor of the Ontic Decoherence Cavity ("An MIT physics professor who tried to patent groundbreaking technological innovations is a Luddite?"), and--well, of witchcraft, which seems an uneasy fit at first but soon comes to make as much sense as anything else in this head-spinning tale. And what is D.O.D.O., the place where the ODEC is put into play courtesy of DARPA? Melisande Stokes, said linguist, gamely guesses that it means "Department of Diabolical Obscurantism," but no, it's much more than all that. Stephenson and Galland turn ethnic cliches on their heads, introducing Magyar sorceresses and hipper-than-thou Asian baristas into the mix as their yarn careens into Dan Brown land: we know we're there when we hit on Athanasius Fugger and his penumbral lineage, "completely absent from the historical record," characters worthy of Umberto Eco and perfectly at home here. Suffice it to say that the story gets weirder and more madcap from there. A departure for both authors and a pleasing combination of much appeal to fans of speculative fiction.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017
    According to the dusty old documents military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons asks linguistics expert Melisande Stokes to translate, magic actually existed until the scientific revolution. The government's Department of Diachronic Operations aims to get it back. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2017

    Dr. Melisande Stokes pens a diary in which she chronicles the events that brought her to 1851 London, where she has been marooned against her will. She writes it so that someone in the future (2017) will discover it and learn how D.O.D.O., a secret government organization, unlocked the secret of time travel. Her tale begins in the halls of Harvard, where she meets government official Tristan Lyons, who lures her from her job as professor of ancient languages so she can read the ancient texts needed to understand where and how magic worked in the past. His plan: to travel back in time to connect with those who practiced magic. How to do that is up to physicist Frank Oda, who is tasked with designing the method of transportation. It is only when Melisande meets Erzabet Karpathy, a witch from the past with knowledge of their aims, that she understands the real mission: to bring magic back and put it to work today. Melisande's diary carries the story, but Viking sagas, email conversations, government memos, and 16th-century handwritten letters are interspersed throughout. There are others who want this information. Can D.O.D.O. defeat them? VERDICT Fans of science fiction, science, history, romance, and shady government operations will love this rich narrative about a world in which time travel and magic seem possible.-Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 15, 2017
    What would you give to bring magic back into the world? According to Stephenson and Galland's enticing speculative thriller, Melisande Stokes paid a high price. Stranded in mid-nineteenth-century England, she records a chronicle of her involvement with the Department of Diachronic Operations (D.O.D.O.). Her account explains how military officer and trained physicist Tristan Lyons recruited her to work for D.O.D.O. in the twenty-first century. Melisande's skill with several ancient languages made her uniquely qualified to translate a collection of documents from a variety of time periods and locales. Working together, she and Tristan discover the impossible, that magic is real and was openly practiced until 1851. Further investigations lead them to Frank Oda, a former MIT physics professor who tried to patent an ODEC, a device that may allow for practicing magic. The powers at D.O.D.O. are determined to have magic back at any cost, but for the ODEC to work, they need a witch, if one still exists. Assuming they find a witch and restore her powers, how can they trust her? Combining Melisande's recollections with journal entries, mission logs, emails, transcripts from multiple characters, and epic Norse poetry, the authors spin a complex and engaging what-if tale that blends technology and history. Ready-made for fans of intricate speculative fiction.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    "[An] immense and immensely entertaining genre-hopping yarn. . . . A departure for both authors and a pleasing combination of much appeal to fans of speculative fiction." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    "Quantum physics, witchcraft, and multiple groups with conflicting agendas, playfully mixed with vernacular from several centuries and a dizzying number of acronyms, create a fascinating experiment in speculation and metafiction that never loses sight of the human foibles and affections of its cast." — Publishers Weekly

    "[An] enticing speculative thriller . . . a complex and engaging what-if tale that blends technology and history." — Booklist (starred review)

    "There's a lot going on here—stylistic flourishes, comedic pratfalls, romance and science—but it's handled deftly. Those familiar with Stephenson will recognize his humor and ideas, while Galland (author of Stepdog, Crossed, Revenge of the Rose and others) brings a fresh and irresistible voice to this ambitious novel." — Washington Post

    "Glorious." — Cory Doctorow, Prometheus Award winning author of Homeland

    "The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. reflects the familiarity of authors comfortable in their respective genres and who trust the change of style the other brings. The book is more than the sum of its authors' parts." — The Straits Times

    "Stephenson and Galland, full of zest and brio, have expertly assembled...a delicious soufflé of adventure, laughter, hubris, and mind-twisting diachronic paradoxes." — Locus

    "[The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.] explores the boundary between magic and science with wit, intellectual intensity and panache." — Financial Times

    "Whimscial and chaotic. . . .Crack the covers and time will seem to slip away." — Toronto Star

    "The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is a high-stakes techno-farce with brains and heart." — San Francisco Chronicle

    "An intoxicating and worthy read . . . the collaboration provides both Stephenson and Galland a freeing atmosphere where ideas are explored and abandoned, measured and scattered, inflated and sent sputtering into the sky – an exhilarating place for a reader." — Winnipeg Free Press

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A Novel
Neal Stephenson
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