Yzabel Ginsberg's Reviews > Seveneves

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
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I finally managed to finish it. Yesss. I did.

Now where to start.

Good ideas, definitely. Using the ISS as a base for survival. Trying to cram as much knowledge and items as possible there to preserve the human race. Having to watch from above, knowing that all your beloved ones are doomed to death in about two years, and the clock keeps ticking by. Knowing that it's all unavoidable because it's happening on such a scale no group of heroes will be able to fix it, or whatever. Having to say goodbye while keeping strong. The orchestras on Earth, silenced one after the other. Crazy harebrained expeditions like the Ymir's—oh, goodness, that part was epic, and clearly one of my favourite ones. Such moments of beauty those could've been.


But it read so dry most of the time, and not because of the science. Actually, I like the science. I like having a few explanations about how this works and why and what's the science behind. I like seeing how characters go through specific situations using robots, vehicles, and so on. However, this book was really bizarre in that regard. It regularly felt like being in a classroom with a teacher explaining some very easy stuff you've already understood, then brushing away your questions at the harder theories you do not understand. As an "old" reader of sci-fi, and one that isn't new to hard sci-fi either, I am kind of used to inferring a lot of things. I do not need to read sentences such as "they climbed into the Lunar Vehicle—in other words, the LV". Just write the full name, then give me the acronym three lines later, and I can do the math, thank you. I've always been crap at maths and physics, really, so when I start thinking "but that's the very basics, why are you expanding on it", then there's a problem.

All the telling-not-showing also greatly reduced the characters' roles as people instead of plot devices. Granted, it was obvious a lot of them would die, and this is precisely why I would've loved seeing more from their point of view, more of their actions "off screen".For instance, the guys in the Ymir, again, went through a lot, yet we just learn about it matter-of-factly later. Or the Arkies and the "Casting of Lots", all the young people who were trained and sent in space to keep as much diversity as possible.

In a way, this book was too ambitious for, well, one book. Or too full of explanations, taking too much room, to be able realise its full potential as a plot with so many implications. It could've spanned two or three novesl: the going into space, surviving for 5000 years with all the problems that were bound to arise, then the return to Earth, for instance. So many themes to tackle. The politics. The troubles going on Earth before the Hard Rain: not as pronounced as one could've expected (hoarding, rioting...). The schemes going on on board the ISS after it had become the only shelter left (they should've shot a certain woman as soon as they saw her, is all I'm going to say). And then, later, the whole seven races and their characteristics that somehow never got diluted in spite of living in such crammed space, clinging to differences that didn't make that much sense all things considered (I didn't buy the "they all retained traits from their founders" idea). The return to Earth had some nicely adventurous moments, bordering on indeed showing more than telling, but those didn't last.

This was a far, far cry from Snow Crash (which I read and loved some 12 or 13 years ago, by the way). It could've been so intense, so epic, so full of both hope and despair mixed together. Instead, it just completely fell flat for me.
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Reading Progress

March 14, 2015 – Shelved
March 14, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 27, 2015 – Started Reading
June 27, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read-owned-borrowed
June 27, 2015 – Shelved as: science-fiction
June 27, 2015 – Shelved as: space
June 27, 2015 – Shelved as: post-apocalyptic
June 27, 2015 –
page 72
June 28, 2015 –
page 163
July 1, 2015 –
page 303
July 3, 2015 –
page 411
July 11, 2015 –
page 499
July 13, 2015 –
page 631
July 14, 2015 –
page 769
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: tell-doesnt-show
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: good-ideas-but
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: computers-technology
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: wtf
July 16, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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Adee Hi Yzabel,

Really liked your review of this. It echoes all i wanted to say but in much better way :)


Yzabel Ginsberg Hi Adee, you're welcome. I could probably have said more, but at that point I just wanted to be done with it, I guess. ^^

Maya Yes! How on Earth can THIS and "Snow Crash" be written by the same guy? Did he forget how to create compelling characters and lost his sense of humour? He tells, tells, tells and tells some more...the idea of the seven un-diluted races is completely improbable, when something could possibly happen "on screen" (finally!) the books ends. Utterly disappointing.

Yzabel Ginsberg I think I need to read "Snowcrash" again, and forget this. ^^

message 5: by Figgy (new) - added it

Figgy Oh dear... I've been looking at this one one my shelf for ages, telling myself I should read it soon.

But I'm having a hard enough time getting through this 306 page Atwood. And I don't know if that's on me or the book.

Yzabel Ginsberg It took me 3 weeks to finish this one, if I remember well. -_-

Maya I think I've read "Snow Crash" in one shot, couldn't put it down. I started "Seveneves", stopped for quite a few weeks, started again, just because I'm stubborn. Thought "something may actually happen" and then it ended.

Yzabel Ginsberg Yeah, such a shame... :(

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