Seveneves by Neal Stephenson


Guest Review by Otto Tibbit.
Today I’ve asked a close personal friend to share his unique thoughts on Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves: A Novel.

There was something about the cover of the book that really appealed to me. Science Fiction is not usually of interest to me but I couldn’t resist. I found “Seveneves” to be a little too long and disappointing in its execution. What I like in a book is symmetry and balance.
The story begins with billions of people wondering what happened to the moon? In the second section they find out, and this total is run down to a mere handful. By the final section of the book everything is good again as billions of people circle the Earth- a happy ending.

The author Stephenson*, misses many opportunities to improve his story. For example Stephenson took common names and made them exotic by simply adding or removing letters. Dinnid becomes Dinah and Donnod becomes Donno. (Thanks to my son, Bob for point this out.) Even when he uses a common name like Cyc he missed a perfect chance to name her Eva, and answer an important question about honey. “Eva can I see bees in a cave?”

The book does have some excellent sentences that really sing, which I have noted below. But I’m afraid I will not be able to recommend this book to my wife Hannah or my daughters Anna and Elle, as it just doesn’t have the balance the Tibbit family expects from fine literature.

* Note, “Stephenson” sounds like a made up name to me. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn his real name is N.O.Steffetson

880 pages

Excerpts From My Kindle

“Wow,” Dinah joked, “a space station with its own radio tower!” – location 2882-2883

The pattern was interrupted in several places by special links, or short series of links, placed there to serve industrial and civic requirements, such as making the transit system work. – location 10141-10143

After a couple of decades working at tech startups with varying level of success, he’d been brought back to NASA a few years ago as part of some dimly conceived re-purposing of the agency’s mission. – location 927-928

“I am sorry, Madam President, but is it possible to get Dr. Harris back into the picture?” – location 868-869

“I have Three on radar and am engaging MAP.” – location 3687-3687

The limitations on breeding were enforced by moral strictures, by segregation of the sexes, and by surgical sterilization. – location 13170-13171

Just sending him a few basic stats would occupy the next transmission window. – location 4669-4670

Each arklet had some onboard storage space, so to some extent the storage was distributed-that being a fundamental tenet of the whole swarm-based Arkitecture. – location 4020-4021

With any normal plastic bag material, the cosmonaut will suffocate or the bag will pop, because plastic bags aren’t strong enough to withstand full atmospheric pressure. – location 1614-1615

Since Dinah lived and worked in a robot workshop, surrounded by soldering gear and electronics workbenches, it had been a simple matter for her to assemble a small transceiver following specifications provided by her dad. – location 526-527

Every parent of a teenager gets used to it: the moment in a child’s life when he or she decides that certain facts are just too much trouble to explain to Mom or Dad. – location 2518-2519

When he pocketed his phone and put his eye back to the eyepiece of his telescope, he let out a curse, since all he saw was a tawny blur. He must have knocked the telescope out of focus. – location 432-433

Nor did the moon. – location 431-431

Eve Moira had been a child of London, fascinated by the natural world, but drawn to the city. – location 9582-9582

This girl-the Cyc, not the Psych-had read it. She had physically handled those old books. – location 12773-12773


About craigmaas

I do a little web design work and support a couple web sites and blogs. My primary focus is lighting and energy consulting where I use a number of computer tools to help my customer find ways of saving money and improving their work environment. See my web site for more information:
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One Response to Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

  1. craigmaas says:

    I’ve been meaning to read a Stephenson book for some time. I’ve had “Cryptomomicon” and “Snow Crash” on my list but never got around to it. “Seveneves” is an apocalyptic novel, a genre that is always fun to read. Unfortunately, I found the book to be overly long and as a reader, I kept fighting the direction Stephenson was going. In my mind I was rewriting the story. Never a good sign. His characterizations did little for me. I didn’t feel emotionally close to any of the myriad characters, but if I had it wouldn’t matter.. they die. I like hard science fiction, in fact I prefer it but, as Suzanne points out in her review there is too much science. Stephenson’s explanations of orbital mechanics are overly complex and in the end didn’t even register with this reader. Stephenson would have been better served with an editor would would break this book into two novels and have him develop a character the reader could relate too and follow throughout the story.

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