The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. | Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

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August 21, 2017
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The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. | Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland | Talks at Google

TL;DR

A woman trapped in 1850s London writes a document explaining how she came to be there and the decline of magic, leading to her investigation into the link between science and magic.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Who is the protagonist of the story?

The protagonist is Melisande Stokes, a woman from the future trapped in 1850s London.

Q: What is the Department of Diachronic Operations (D.O.D.O.)?

D.O.D.O. is a black budget arm of the United States government that has gone off the rails due to internal treachery, focusing on the study and preservation of magic.

Q: How does the protagonist discover the connection between magic and photography?

Through translation work and studying ancient texts, Melisande and Tristan hypothesize that photography freezes moments in time and eliminates the possibility of magic in other realities.

Q: What is the significance of the Great Exhibition of 1851?

The Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851, brought together various technological advancements from around the world. Tristan believes that the concentration of technological advancement dampened and eventually extinguished magic.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Melisande Stokes, a woman from the future, finds herself trapped in 1851 London and writes a document detailing her situation and her work with the Department of Diachronic Operations (D.O.D.O.).

  • Magic is fading in 1851, and Melisande discovers through translation work that photography may be the cause of its decline.

  • Melisande and Tristan, her colleague from D.O.D.O., hypothesize that photography freezes moments in time and eliminates the possibility of magic in other realities.

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