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Seveneves
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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > Seveneves: Finished Reading **SPOILERS**

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message 1: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments Here's a general topic for people who have finished reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

Caution: Spoilers are likely in this thread!


message 2: by Chris, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chris (heroncfr) | 583 comments Mod
I loved the first section of this book! I was hooked from the first sentence. The urgency as the world responded to the emergency was believable and compelling. I liked the second section of the book very much as well. The science was solid, and the squabbling between the various groups felt (disappointingly) human and real. But the third part? Too much, too fast. The third part should probably have been a book in its own right. Given the title, this is probably the book he wanted to write. But it left me feeling somewhat let down. Overall, though, a worthy effort.


message 3: by Xil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Xil (zerl) | 7 comments Well said!


Justine (justinescholefield) | 563 comments This is such a long book with so much going on that I have just broken up my comments by Part. One of the things I really liked about this book is that there was SO much to think about!

Part 1

I liked the range of characters that were introduced, it made for an interesting and diverse palette. Tekla was an early favourite for me, but I also liked how Dinah and Ivy were truly friends and not cast as competitors, because I would have found that dynamic really tiresome after awhile.

One thing that struck me in this part is that, although on the one hand I understand the idea of having a Cloud Ark Constitution, it seemed to me sort of ridiculous to operate as if the operation is something that permits of voluntary participation at the start. Things are dire, supplies are limited, and they are really not in any kind of a position to run like a democratic operation. I know Marcus gets this because he is military, but why is it such a shocker to the non-military people in the book that things might of have to be different, at least for awhile? And I don't say that lightly, given that I used to argue appeals as a lawyer based on some of the same Constutional principles Sal and Marcus are discussing.

It also seemed to me that the people on the ground were taking things remarkably calmly, although I guess the alternative is that there is no alternative. In that sense though I think Stephenson paints a remarkably mature portrait of humanity to accept its destruction with such equanimity.

Part 2

Honestly when JBF showed up there was something inside of me that just felt like, "oh no, this is going to turn into a horror show now." Maybe it is my inherent distrust of politicians? I don't know. I wasn't at all surprised at all the crap she pulled.

I suppose the question is must people always devolve into stupid political maneuvers? That to me was the scariest part of the equation here, and unfortunately, yes, I think there are always people out there who won't be satisfied to try and work together; will always make trouble just for the sake of...I'm not sure the word I'm looking for...possibly a combination of boredom and also feeling like they are just as smart and capable as "the people in charge"...so, a sense of entitlement?

This is something I wondered about in Part 1. Why all the shock and worry over getting a constitution in place when what really should be the concern is maybe getting a set of rules in place and doing some kind of discipline training with the Arkers on the ground? I found it hard to believe that everyone went up there thinking they were going to continue living in a democracy. And those assumptions didn't work out so well as it turns out.

I was thinking back too about how telling the story of the Endurance juxtaposed with the scheming of JBF and the breakaway group really brought home how petty and selfish all their actions were by comparison. There is the crew of the Endurance not wanting to die (obviously) but certainly willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure the greater good is achieved. In contrast, JBF is sowing seeds of discontent and encouraging the breakaway Mars mission as well as the splitting up of the Arks.

In a way, I could understand the Arkers having some trouble knowing who to follow and what to do; they're supposed to be very young and maybe not as experienced, but I still marvelled at the number of them so easily swayed by the words of a politician - who broke the accord! And sorry, but they are in space! I would be sticking with the so-called "brain trust" no matter what in that case. They have to know this isn't a situation where you can breakaway and make camp on your own, just go out and forage and find supplies. It's outer space! I just really don't think a lot of them understood the gravity of the situation until it was too late.

I also liked the Ymir story arc in this part. I thought that part was pretty exciting, although I could have done with a bit less science instruction there. But the actual story was intense with everyone sacrificing themselves, and it made all the crap going down at Izzy with JBF and the Arkers look really petty by comparison.

At the end when the Seven Eves were supposedly responsible for recreating everything, I really was wondering how they got all that stuff done with all those babies around and no one to help them look after any of them. That part actually seemed the most unrealistic of all out of everything that happened in this book, to be perfectly honest:)

Part 3

I liked this part quite a bit up until I realized that it wasn't really going to be finished in what I felt was any kind of satisfactory way. I do admit to being a rather generous reader in that I like to give the author a lot of free space as an artist to tell a story in the way that he or she wants to, but I felt a bit unsatisfied at the end here.

And, just as an aside, because it felt that way in the book, what was the point of introducing the idea of the Purpose? Was it Stephenson's attempt at introducing the notion that the ideas of something larger existing is somehow so universal that it survives the death of all known human religions? I wasn't clear on that and it was so vague.

Anyway, my take on the end was that it was vaguely unsatisfying, but, I assume that was the feeling Stephenson wanted to leave his readers with, that is, let your own imagination take over.

Overall, though, I’ve read a lot of SF in the past year and this one still stands out as one of the better ones. In my opinion, it is MUCH better than Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson and it certainly gave me a lot to think about.


message 5: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments Hmm, yeah.
This issue here was JBF screwed the whole thing up when she arrived. She expected everyone to follow her lead. Everyone else that was there understood what was involved. She didnt. No left understood politics so they really didnt stand a chance to stop her.

My biggest problem with the book though was the Orbital Mechanics course I got.


Justine (justinescholefield) | 563 comments Yes, I've actually forgotten most of the course by now:)


message 7: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken (ogi8745) | 1357 comments Ha, it was interesting but he spent too much time on it. I understood the basics but quite a bit of it was way above my head

As for the politics after JBF showed up. I can see this happening easily. It's just confirmed my own thoughts on how people would act in this situation.
BTW, we are looking at some of this stuff today,


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) | 485 comments I missed the discussion at the time it was active. I'll add some thoughts now as part of a review.

It was obvious that the author had done some serious research into the science affecting the phenomena attendant upon a huge mass of moon debris circling the Earth. The descriptions and accounts of the orbiting survivors rang true for the most part and plunged the reader into a bona fide "hard SF" milieu. Some of the characterizations were quite obviously ripped directly from either current events or at least recent history.

Some of the lengthy expositions (e.g., the description of the Ymir trip to Earth orbit) were overly laborious, but did further contribute to an air of authenticity. The overriding thrust of the "can do" attitude of the orbiting refugees seemed central to the eventual outcome of the miniscule number of those finally reaching Cleft. Despite all prospects of total failure, the future of the Spacers was left in the perhaps overly competent hands of 8 women, seven of whom were capable of bearing the progenitors of new human races. Some of the logic breaks down here. Whatever motive kept Tekla from wasting Aida straight out of the blocks gives too much credit to our better natures. Moira's virtual total control of the reproductive process makes it hard to swallow the altruistic course of events as described, with everyone getting a chance to be the architects of their own progeny.

I'm easily reminded of the Balmer & Wylie account of the Earth's demise in When Worlds Collide. Not hard to believe in that tale is the mob mentality of those wanting to storm the saving space ship. In Seveneves. with the exception of a nuke blasting Venezuela, the Earthlings seemed content to lie down and eat their poison pudding.

The remainder of the story, five thousand years later, describes the result of millennia of genetic isolation and parsimony. A little hard to fathom, again putting perhaps a bit too much credence to successful racial isolation being coupled with a spirit of collaboration. The Reds versus the Blues is a thinly veiled swipe at the current political standoff in the United States and then extrapolated into a more universal "East versus West" dichotomy.

But it mostly hangs together well as a rather long story exploring the odd relationships and conflicts that "starting over" might bring. One or two gripes: I'm pretty sure that a Sears Craftsman shovel handle would not still be in use after five thousand years underground. And, despite catastrophic conditions, I don't believe five thousand years is long enough to produce a race of frogmen.


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