Book Review: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (Three Stars)

Book Review: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Three Stars

(Spoilers Follow)

“If this doesn’t work we’re all dead anyway.”

The good news is this a rock-hard science fiction; the bad news is this a rock-hard science fiction. Readers of space operas and the various “Star” franchises may not connect. Folks who are starved for hard-core SF: here it is.

“It is only a certain type of mind that scorns what is known by all and treats secrets as jewels.”

What if the Moon exploded? What if debris would kill everyone on the surface of Earth in two years? How might mankind survive? That’s the set up. The rest is well-thought out and developed.

“I feel that I have been dropped into a sci-fi movie.”

That said, it’s overloaded with exposition and explanation. 881 pages is a clue. (Should have made it a series.) Stephenson assumes the reader knows nothing about orbital physics and sets about correcting the deficiency. Too much dialogue is aimed at the reader. Dreadfully boring.

“She finds ways to [seek power] and back fills a rationalization for it afterward.”

Though exhaustively researched and presented, the number of coincidences and lucky breaks pushes the credibility of that same hard-core SF readership. Hopelessly optimistic projection of genetic manipulation. Genetic tailoring (if possible) won’t be that easy. Questions of viability of a seven person culture, not to mention they’re all women. And how did they keep literate, let alone so technically advanced?

“The user interface is so easy to use, I can’t do anything with it.”

Nice cover art.

“All duty is inconvenient … or it is not duty.”

Quibbles: Hardware is removed from a mutilated tongue, and the victim immediately speaks? Collective gravity should have pulled most of the Moon’s fragments into a sphere, not bombarded the Earth. “… reaching as far as the Kuiper Belt to acquire chunks of frozen water.” Ceres is closer, has plenty.

“There’s something bigger.”