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Seveneves: A Novel Hardcover – May 19 2015

3.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 19 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062190377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062190376
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 962 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“No slim fables or nerdy novellas for Stephenson: his visions are epic, and he requires whole worlds-and, in this case, solar systems-to accommodate them....Wise, witty, utterly well-crafted science fiction.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Stephenson’s remarkable novel is deceptively complex, a disaster story and transhumanism tale that serves as the delivery mechanism for a series of technical and sociological visions… there’s a ton to digest, but Stephenson’s lucid prose makes it worth the while.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“The huge scope and enormous depth of the latest novel from Stephenson is impressive… a major work of hard sf that all fans of the genre should read.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Well-paced over three parts covering 5,000 years of humanity’s future, Stephenson’s monster of a book is likely to dominate your 2015 sf-reading experience.” (Booklist)

“[Stephenson] plays with hard ballistics, hard genetics, hard sociology. And what thrills me, is that he makes it interesting. That he makes life and death in space about actual life and death .” (NPR Books)

“Written in a wry, erudite voice...Seveneves will please fans of hard science fiction, but this witty, epic tale is also sure to win over readers new to Stephenson’s work.” (Washington Post)

Seveneves offers at once [Stephenson’s] most conventional science-fiction scenario and a superb exploration of his abiding fascination with systems, philosophies and the limits of technology.… Stephenson’s central characters, mostly women, serve as a welcome corrective to science-fiction clichés.” (Chicago Tribune)

Seveneves can be fascinating. . . . Insights into the human character shine like occasional full moons.” (Boston Globe)

“[A] novel of big ideas, but it’s also a novel of personalities, of heart, and of a particular kind of hope that only comes from a Stephenson story. Science fiction fans everywhere will love this book.” (BookPage)

“Stephenson… knows the life-sustaining power of storytelling, since storytelling is what he does…Today’s post-apocalyptic stories routinely aim to convey the loss of the old world through the personal losses of a few characters. Stephenson makes you feel the loss of Earth on the scale it deserves.” (Salon)

“This is hard sci-fi in a real and welcome sense, ruled by unremitting physical laws, unlike the negotiable rules of the action thriller.” (Nature)

“Stephenson’s storytelling style combines the conversational and the panoramic, allowing him to turn his piercing gaze on the familiar aspects of a strange future, encompassing the barely conceivable detail by detail.” (Seattle Times)

From the Back Cover

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remains . . .  Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant. 

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Format: Hardcover
A few weeks ago, a noted New York, NY independent bookstore held a panel on the future of apocalyptic/dystopian speculative fiction; a panel consisting overwhelmingly of mainstream literary fiction writers who probably never heard of – or if they did, haven’t appreciated – what J. G. Ballard dubbed the “tool kit of science fiction”, which William Gibson has stressed too. In plain English, what Ballard and Gibson have emphasized is the importance of realism in speculative fiction and a realism that is rooted in the post-World War II scientific and technological history of Western Civilization. It is quite doubtful that the panel acknowledged the ample realism present in Gibson’s fiction, or Neal Stephenson’s, or recognized the necessity for having realism in speculative fiction which other writers who write it almost exclusively, ranging from Paolo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes and Lev Grossman to Ken Liu, Michael Swanwick and Jeff VanderMeer, have been emphasizing for months, if not years. It is also quite doubtful that any of these panelists understood that Stephenson could write a great speculative fiction novel that emphasizes the necessity for paying close attention to both the “tool kit of science fiction” and the relevance of realism in speculative fiction; a novel more than seven years in the making, “Seveneves”.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
seveneves
Neal Stephenson
2015

I've read a lot of Neal Stephenson, from short books like Snow Crash to the 3,000+ page, eight-book trilogy that is The Baroque Cycle. Stephenson's Anathem is my pick for the best contemporary sci-fi/futuristic/whatever genre book. Hands down, no contest.

So I hoped that Seveneves would be almost as good. Unfortunately, for me it wasn't.

With as few "spoilers" as possible, here are the main reasons why I didn't like Seveneves very much.

First, I've become quite tired of Stephenson's penchant for length. A very, very long story worked pretty well in Cryptonomicon, less well in Reamde, and not very well at all in Seveneves.

More than 650 pages to establish a space colony and raise an orbit. Then we go away for a few millennia and come back to cover a week or two of action in another 400 pages.

I get it that Stephenson is an uber-geek, someone who can't imagine what too much detail could possibly be, especially on one of his favourite subjects. Here, we learn so much about orbital mechanics and space engineering that we could all get jobs with the Chinese space program.

Enough, already -- the first part of the book, all 650 pages of it, details something like five key events, involving characters who, even the literal handful who actually make it to page 650, have only remotely historical influence on the 400 pages of the last section.

Second, so much of the book is spent describing hardware that even 1,000+ pages aren't enough to get to know more than one character in any depth. It's frustrating. All of that concentrated devotion on things and processes, and so little concern for the people served by all that technology.
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Format: Hardcover
The author breaks one of the biggest rules in fiction writing. Every sentence and every paragraph should "move the story forward". We find ourselves in endless disquisitions about the technical aspects of living in space inherent in this tale. It's overburdened to the point of being "filler". It also appears to be two separate books. One that ends abruptly and one that just trails off. I'm not on board with the authors understanding of genetics either.
The story's concept is eerily frightening and would have made a barn burner of a, say, 300 page work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If this was the script for a Nova documentary series ("This is How the World Ends"), I would give it 5 stars. Since it is supposed to be a novel, I can only give it 3 stars. Why?

The most exciting thing in the book happens in the first few pages: the moon blows up. After that, the story takes a decided back seat to the explanations, in minute detail, of the science and technology involved in saving a remnant of humanity. For each few paragraphs of story there are pages of nothing happening while we learn about orbital mechanics or space suits or some such thing, which, while certainly interesting does not make for much of a story. And the characters are shallow and forgettable: when one of them dies (as many do), even if he/she was a major player, it really doesn't matter, not to the reader, not even to the other characters. In effect the characters and the story are just anchors to hang the lectures on, just there to add a little color to a textbook. While the storytelling picks up toward the end, it is too little, too late. With 25% story and 75% lecture, this book is not much of a novel. Good documentary, though.

As to be expected from this author, the writing itself is very good, the ideas are interesting and well researched, and everything hangs together pretty well. There is no obvious silliness, and the science and technology are plausible.

If you are looking for ripping good story with engaging characters and a compelling plot, you will not find it here. If you like your science fiction heavy on the science and light on the fiction, this book will be just what you want.
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