Neal Stephenson's next novel is Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, an 880-page Stephsonian brick of a novel that has ample room for two novels, and that's because Stephenson actually stuck a second novel inside the first one.
Fall is the story (first) of how practical consciousness uploading becomes a reality even as the internet is being deliberately dismantled and (then) it's a fantasy novel about the elaborate mythologies and weird spiritualisms that thrive in the post-internet, uploaded-consciousness noosphere.
In a long and fascinating interview with Bob Marvin in PC Magazine, Stephenson describes the vision he had for the novel(s), and how it was driven by his revelation that social media is a "doomsday machine" that leads to a fragmented chaos of belief with no commonly agreed-upon truth. Stephenson says that he had to refactor much of the novel after the 2016 election (just as William Gibson did with "The Agency," the sequel to "The Peripheral").
PCMag: You stuck a fantasy novel inside a sci-fi novel.
NS: It's kind of a weird move. But my hope is that a lot of readers will sort of get the joke in the sense that fantasy and science fiction, those genres have always been kind of weirdly coupled together. On the surface they seem like very different things; one's about magic, one's about technology. And yet it is the case that they appeal to the same people.
Well we're in kind of a golden age of epic storytelling with Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and the big storytelling universes that people can go into in great depth. Hopefully this will help scratch that itch for some readers.
Neal Stephenson Explains His Vision of the Digital Afterlife [Rob Marvin/PC Magazine]