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Seveneves Neil Stephenson *SPOILERS*

Discussion in 'Book club' started by lanokia, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    So I've just finished reading this mammoth tome... 870 odd pages... and having invested so much reading energy into it I thought it was deserving of a thread all of its own.

    Where to begin... 2/3rd of the book are excellent... 5/5 superb. From the opening lines where the sheer ambition of the novel is laid out ''The Moon blew up with our warning or apparent reason'' to the detail and [presumed] accuracy of the unfolding events. The descriptions of the desperate race to expand the International Space Station as the two year life span of life on Earth ticks away... the different mad cap schemes to extend humanities time beyond the extinction level event unleashed.

    However, IMO the book stumbled at the final 3rd. Not catastrophically so, but it was struggling... skipping 5000 years ahead was always going to be risky and having to invest in new characters was a struggle because at the same time the writer was introducing all new technology and social structures. As a result the book got bogged down in detailed explanations of new tech or skimmed over the history of the previous 5000 years.

    Personally I think it could have been a series... a duology to open the series and then have the impact into the future explored. How the disaster altered the human race and changed forever the idea of a shared future. I also found it unrealistic that in 5000 years the orbital humans never seem to have considered altering [terraforming] other planets in the solar system. If they can slam comets into the sterile Earth and then seed the oceans with atmosphere producing bacteria, then certainly they could repeat the exercise on Mars or Venus.

    So 4/5 for me... excellent main body of the novel but the ending feels rushed and lacks narrative coherence for me.
  2. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    In case anyone wishes to know what @lanokia and me are raving about, check out Seveneves by Neal Stephenson:


    I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, @lanokia. It really is head and shoulders above much of what I've read in the last ten years, including Banks and rereads of Niven.

    Too much made-up technology but not enough made-up history, in a science fiction novel? A historian's objection? I think that the future section would have made for a good sequel but Stephenson had the guts to keep it all together and the grand sweep is the pay-off. I enjoyed being able to connect the characteristics of the future people's to the individual original Arkies in whom I'd invested much emotion and ambition.

    I think a successful terraformation would take longer than 5,000 years to get up and running. Earth is a fixer-upper in a good neighbourhood whereas Mars is the equivalent of a new build on the North face of the Eiger.

    Honestly, I may read this again very soon. Your review reminds me of the many engaging character, relationships and ideas Stephenson has poured into these 880 pages. It would make a great television series, like the mature version of The 100, but I'm not going to wait for that when it's on my shelf now.
    lanokia likes this.
  3. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I think the people that made this short film might be Seveneves fans... the torus on the ISS is the spit of the books.

    Only the first 20 seconds...
  4. tsarina

    tsarina Occasional commenter

    I loved it, read it last month, I agree that most of it was amazing but that it could have been more developed in the third part...had a really excellent day dream about the whipchain slingshot travel pods and the swinging feet orbital height increasers and was trying to think what film it was from but then realised it was from the book....really amazing descriptions!
    Vince_Ulam and lanokia like this.

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