Neal Stephenson's Seveneves: five thousand years of apocalypse and rebirth

[Read the post]

Good so far, but I had to take a break in the middle because holy crap is it depressing.

The arklets and the ISS are locked in a battle with the cold equations …

Heh, I saw what you did there.

1 Like

I am still bothered that if the surface of the earth is hot enough to boil water, the crust of the earth is trapped between a surface over 100° C and magma over 700° C, which means that the crust of the earth that is trapped between those two temperatures is going to rise to at least the lower amount. This makes surviving on earth a much harder challenge.

I just read Moby Dick before reading this. Seveneves doesn’t have a single page of “long and dry” in comparison.


Yup, I am thinking that you’d need one of those small self-contained nuclear reactors to produce the energy to pump the heat out of the living space, and you’d need some way to radiate the waste heat, although it only has to be as fast as it’s conducted by the rock, so that’s probably do-able as long as the radiator field is far enough from the living space. Keeping that running for 5k years would be interesting…

1 Like

I really don’t like how Boing Boing mixes in legitimate reviews with paid content like was done a few weeks ago here. I don’t think I should have to carefully read the byline to decide if something is a genuine review or a “native content” ad.

IMHO, it’s dishonest and having your core audience start to question your integrity can’t be good for business.

So Cory, do you stand by your review or are you just paying some bills here? Is there an easy way for us to tell if a posting has been paid for?

Has Neal Stephenson got a new book coming out?


It’s even worse than I thought. :frowning:

Is this typical? If not, why the huge marketing push this time? Is the publisher worried about making back their advance or something? This book is starting to have a bad smell to me.

1 Like

I didn’t mid the physicsy bits so much, mainly because several hundred hours of Kerbal Space Program have instilled the basics of orbital mechanics into my brain (and thinking about it, aerobraking a chunk of comet with a jury rigged nuclear engine would be right up Jeb’s street).
The end of the first section, when the Hard Rain comes and the Earth dies is one of the most moving bits of a book I’ve read for a while.

As for the plugging, I think part of it is that Cory’s just excited that there’s a new Stephenson book out. I am too, but I don’t write for a popular blog so y’all don’t have to put up with my witterings.


After getting 2/3 through the book, I found myself wistfully dreaming of an audiobook version where John Cleese suddenly announces “and now for something completely different.”


The science in the book is on a par with KSP too – superficially believable until you look deeper. The social science was even worse. KSR’s Mars trilogy was much better in that regard.

I’m 3/4 through the ebook. So far only two illustrations, so it’s difficult to understand some of the descriptions of the space station, the new habitats, etc… And, yes, he goes into too much detail. He did help me understand space mechanics, however.

I thought the “Agent” was never actually revealed. The primordial singularity was just a theory advanced early on by Ivy.

1 Like

Yeah, that bothered me too, not to mention where did all the water go (it’s mentioned that it’s replaced with comets), how did the other group survive, and with 5000 years you would think they would be well past where we are less than 70 years after the invention of the semiconductor.

But the biggest to me was wondering where Orion was. I mean, if I want to put a ton of shit in orbit, and I’m not bothered by a bit more background radiation, I’d use the bomb powered spaceship, put as much up in one go as they manage in two years of hurried launches. It bugged me that he didn’t even mention it. After all, he used one in Anathem.

I enjoyed it, but too many loose ends for real SF.

1 Like

REAMDE had just two posts, I believe:

Since Boing Boing hates discussing their lack of transparency with native advertising, I’d guess that the 3x increase in articles does indeed have to do with the fact that they are being paid to post them, as @Chesterfield surmised.

(This doesn’t take away from Stephenson himself, of course. I like his books a lot.)

I thought the same while reading Anathem. Indeed, I expect Stephenson himself has played it…

Plus apparently they can churn out thousands of robots for mining operations but never think to have them eat the moon chunks before they rain down death?


Did you read the Unabridged version with the seemingly endless section on the Taxonomy of Whales? :wink:

1 Like

Yeah, much of the science doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, and it did read a bit like physics for dummies lecture at times. But I enjoyed it anyway. It didn’t seem long to me, so that’s a good sign of a readable book. For a true epic, he would have initially written three novels as phase 1 - Spacers, Miners and Pingers. Then tied it together with a 4th novel.

For end-of-the-earth sadness, I found Melancholia to be way more effective.

I’m finishing it right now.

If you love orbital mechanics as a character, you’ll love this book. Otherwise, 100 pages of it could be cut with no loss. Seriously.