July 25, 2016

Seveneves (880 pages) ★★★★★

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

I stayed late every night this weekend finishing the last third of Seveneves. Although being tired on a Monday is not a great productivity plan, it was worth it.

Neal Stephenson books have been hit and miss for me. I loved Cryptonomicon 1, enjoyed Snow Crash, and have abandoned Quicksilver twice. So his sometimes dense writing is not an instant win with me. I think he may have dialed down in Seveneves, or maybe I was thirsty for some complex sci-fi.

Seveneves is basically three books in one — or more accurately, a trilogy in one book. This is not only in length (it’s 881 pages long) but in structure: you get 3 good sci-fi books that together make a great one. There’s 1) a disaster sci-fi, 2) near-future space sci-fi, and 3) far-future space sci-fi.

As usual with Stephenson, his sci-fi is heavy on the Science. But unlike some of his recent books, you can skim a little if you get bored with the engineering advanced course, and not miss a critical plot point. I was surprised of how few times I took shortcuts on Seveneves — maybe like Cryptonomicon and cryptography, my interest in Seveneves space travel backdrop helped me not loose my attention. YMMV.

If you liked Cryptonomicon and enjoy sci-fi, read Seveneves. It has all the ingredients of classical sci-fi I love: epic story, characters with dimension, open questions that force you to think a bit, and wonders of technology that seem like magic but are explained.

  1. Among the few books I’ve re-read↩︎


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