The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is a 2017 time travel and magic sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. TL;DR: Why did magic vanish from the world? How do we bring it back? Oh snap, is this getting out of control? How do we regain control? Oops, the timeline!

The story is primarily told through "Diachronicle" journal entries of Dr. Melisande Stokes, though other people make numerous entries into the record as well. The story is centered in the early 21st Century, in Cambridge MA (as Stokes is a Harvard linguist-cum-government agent), but includes numerous visits to historical places and times.

We're introduced to the story when Stokes is hired to translate some historical texts, which upon examination seem to suggest that magic used to be a real thing, but that it's vanished over time. Working with the man who hired her, Major Tristan Lyons, they build up his fledgling government organization, the Department of Diachronic Operations, with the goal of preventing the extinction of magic, and their method of choice is using time travel to investigate, re-introduce, and save the magic of the past. If this sounds like the sort of thing that could screw up the timeline and potentially cause an incursion event as witches of the past enter our magicless future, uh...yeah. Bingo. Don't play around with time travel, kids, it's dangerous.

Being a Stephenson/Galland novel, it's fairly long — some 768 pages, including the glossary of acronyms. Stephenson has a bit of a reputation for some meandering asides about Cap'n Crunch and an inability to write endings, but the time loopiness and shifting timelines of this story give us interesting instability that accelerates over time.

As we all know, any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science, and this magic has an appropriate quantum mechanics-esque explanation, involving quipus and àireamhan brooms. (They are witches after all.)

The feel of DODO is a little Stargate Command-esque, to me, both as a secretive government program dealing with magic/magically-advanced science and with the bureaucratic/alignment issues of government officials. The plot sort of reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones in its twisty circular manner, though this is a bit of a time travel trope in general.

I'm unfortunately not well-read enough on time travel sci-fi to give good "if you liked this" recommendations. I do think there's some similarity to Anathem, though that's more archaic, philosophical, and does not involve time travel.

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