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Seveneves

A Novel
Written by: Neal Stephenson
Length: 31 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (203 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Seveneves was included on President Obama's Summer 2016 reading list.

Seveneves was one of only five books recommended by Bill Gates as "must reads" for Summer 2016.

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 remain....

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.

©2015 Neal Stephenson (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great novel, only somewhat held back by narration

A solid tale that I've read and am now listening to after getting an itch to relive the story. The first 2/3 are really solid, the latter 3rd is a bit... different, however it is rather interesting as most stories of the like would leave a cliffhanger ending unexplored or a followup novel.

The main weakness here is one that is common to many audiobooks: having the narrator portray the other gender and the narrator doing so, unfortunately, quite poorly. Some narrators, few thus far I've found, can do both male and female characters quite well; most however can not, but I'll not blame the narrator in these cases (it seems like a darned tough job to do after all) but rather the one(s) who made the decision to do not bring in at least one other voice actor to portray some of the major characters to make it a bit more of an ensemble or duo performance piece rather than a simple solo narration. In this case the narrator does an excellent job producing a recognisable voice for most of the characters (and really nails it for this female forward cast I must add), but non-american accents and male characters sound, for lack of a better description, rather cheesy. However, this work is fairly female (and american) forward, so for most of the book it is a solid performance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Falls flat in the third act

Parts 1 and 2 are filled with compelling characters facing interesting problems. By comparison, Part 3 feels deflated. The pacing is glacial, and it feels like there are no stakes. Just as it seems something might start to happen again, the story ends. A rare miss from an author I greatly enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story. Best narrator.

Fantastic book. Really good science, the author clearly did a lot of research for it. The middle of the book drags on a little, but power through it, it's worth it. Mary Robinette Kowal is the best narrator I've heard yet. Will Damron did a great job as well.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A trilogy in one part

Honestly this book is better thought of as a trilogy. It is an interesting look at the conflicts that politics can cause science and how frustratingly unproductive politics can be. It is also an interesting in the way hostory is preserved via social media and even with all the video footage and blog posts there is a lot still left open to interpretation.

I recomend the book for any nerd looking for a good thought piece. I had been working my way though the expanse and felt this filled a more social gap that it had over looked. That being said it was the first time I had had to think about conix in a decade.

Soft spoiler ahead:

I call it a trilogy in one book because it is best to think about it that way. Having read some reveiws I took an intermission between part two and three and felt it was to my advantage due to over all enjoyability. In part three the book changes time and characters. This causes a change in pace and feels like another book altogether.

The change made me curious as to why the author felt the need to get it all into one book and why it was made into a trilogy?

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Very technically focused

Very technically focused and for that reason tedious. I didn't finish this book and cut my losses.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Disaster Hard Scifi

Best first sentence pitch ever.

This is hard SciFi, although as a space nerd layperson I did not find anything overly technical. typical Neal Stephenson, lots of witty dialogue and smart characters and very little action.

Story: Spans 5000 years of time, starting with the Moon mysteriously exploding. Humanity, and Earth, have about two years to get civilization into space before an epic moon rock bombardment sterilizes everything. most of the book covers this effort, and the last part time-jumps to "what happens in the end". a good story, nothing mind-blowing.

Narrator: Mary (first two parts) was very good. Guy doing part three was just okay.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Horrible narration

This narrator is horrible. Not even half way through. Think I might just get the ebook and read it, because it could be enjoyable that way.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved it all

lots of reviews say the first 2 parts are great while the third falls off. I felt the third part really tied off the book perfectly in a way I wasn't expecting.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

such a fun story!

this was a really fun story! it s long and in some places it can be a little drawn out, but overall it s a really good book! I would definitely recommend it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thank you Neal.

A catastrophicly optimistic imagining of our future from a visionary genius who obviously deeply loves us.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Josh Mitchell
  • 2015-05-30

Odd narrator choice

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This is a tough one to rate. There are long stretches of the book that are fascinating and fast moving. And there are stretches that feel even longer that are dishwater dull. Stephenson is usually able to keep technical discussions interesting -- Cryptonomicon, for example, deals with heavily complex subjects but doesn't get boring. Seveneves does.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron ?

Not sure about who I'd have read it instead, but Ms. Kowal made some very strange choices for main characters' voices. The producer/recording engineer/whoever was sitting in the booth also wasn't paying close attention--there are more than the usual number of garbled and mispronounced words. I get it; it's a long book. But this is not anywhere close to the best of all possible recordings.

276 of 299 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • 2017-06-08

So Much Potential

Let me start by saying that up until Part 3, Seveneves was pegging my Top 10 books of all-time. While I first thought the premise was implausible, Stephenson starting working the technology and I gradually became entranced. He has a no holds barred writing style, and the storyline was filled with a continuous “Science the shit out of this” attitude made famous by “The Martian”. As the implausible became plausible, the main characters came to life as they struggled to make this happen. By the time Part 2 ended, I was at the edge of my seat simply amazed by what had taken place. But then it all went wrong.

The jump from Part 2 to Part 3 was simply too big. The emotional connections made to the main characters were lost. The eager anticipation as to what happens next was lost. And ultimately, the storyline was lost. Stephenson tried to tie everything back together, but the gap-filling backstory was too minimal to be satisfying, and a new level of fantastical science fiction reenergized the implausibility meter. The result was a less than compelling storyline filled with characters you cared nothing about.

The detailed application of advanced technology is what I love best about Stephenson’s books. In this regard “Seveneves” does this well at first, but then goes off the deep end. He’s a tremendous writer who is fearless at exploring new boundaries. But Part 3 should be a separate book, and its replacement needs to continue the excellent storyline developed in the first two sections. That is the story that I wanted to hear.

In summary, this book was totally worth one credit and I thought the first 2/3s was brilliant. I will definitely continue to buy and read Stephenson's books. I'm just sad for what this book could have been. And for those who criticize the narration, the only I can say is get over it. My experience is that woman have a tougher time doing men's voices. But it's mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. It was correct to have the first two sections narrated by a woman.

142 of 155 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-08-24

great idea - poor execution

The premise for this book is amazing, but the characters are flat, the scientific explanations are showy and usually unnecessary, and the metaphors are condescending to the reader. I listened to the whole thing hoping it would pay off, I don't think it did.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kalia Kinser
  • 2015-06-29

What happened to the end of the story?!?

This book was very interesting with great characters and plot. It's super long and you really get into it. However you get towards the end and all this development is still happening and bam it just ends. Maybe I missed somewhere that this was going to be a series. But if not this book ends like the author was tired of writing so he just quit. Hopefully it is a series and I'm just stupid.

62 of 68 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charlie's Mom
  • 2016-02-14

If you liked THE MARTIAN.....

What made the experience of listening to Seveneves the most enjoyable?

I liked the science. It seemed researched and thorough and plausible. And fascinating. Got me interested. Some sections are less riveting, but they play into a general feeling of the book being thorough and comprehensive.

What other book might you compare Seveneves to and why?

Well, for me it is a good follow up to THE MARTIAN. Science oriented with modern day humans looking to current technology for solutions to thorny problems.

Would you be willing to try another one of Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron ’s performances?

I would avoid Ms. Kowal like the plague. I have never encountered a stranger narrator choice. Her sections of omniscient narrtion are perfectly good - a bit robotic, but it works. But her "voices" are preposterous and distracting. How the author could have okayed this narrator is beyond me. Every male character sounds like he is participating in a bad community theater production of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. She can't do a British accent without making everyone sound like Colonel Fudgewiggens. Which really destroys all men as romantic creatures. Her accent work is appalling. I really can't say enough- every voice - male and female is distracting and aritificial. She needs to receive a cease and desist order NOW. It's a shame because she reads the narrative well. She should just skip voices altogether. Nod to them, so to speak, without attempting to do them. I almost want people to listen just to be amazed.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Well to the narrator, yes. I gasped and continue to gasp every time a new accent arrives.

Any additional comments?

I think I have made my point.

96 of 106 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. Liu
  • 2015-05-28

Liked the book, narration could been better

Would you consider the audio edition of Seveneves to be better than the print version?

No. There's a couple of diagrams in the book that really help with visualizing the latter parts of the book. But more importantly, I really thought the female narrator who begins the book was not a good choice. Her vocalization of the male roles is really poor. I really wish they could have used the same woman, Jennifer Wiltsie, who read Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age". She did amazing work with that book and would have done a much better job with this one. The male reader was fine.

What other book might you compare Seveneves to and why?

I think Seveneves is a lot like Stephenson's other works like Cryptonomicon and Anathem. Building worlds and describing tech without as much emphasis on plot turns and twists.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really that kind of book.

Any additional comments?

A good addition to the Neal Stephenson library. Not his best, but I enjoyed it.

67 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • 2015-12-27

Fascinating speculation, a little flawed as story

Neal Stephenson’s novels are ambitious, and Seveneves is no exception. Though this one has a few issues, which I’ll get to, it still has much to recommend it.

The setup is that a mysterious event in the very near future causes the moon to break apart into large chunks. The question of “why” is soon buried under the realization that many moon fragments are going to rain down on the Earth in about two years, scouring its entire surface clean of life.

It’s a scenario so awful that’s it hard to even begin to get one’s mind around it, and Stephenson, other than a few scenes here and there, seems to have decided that the emotional and psychological response of humanity to such an event wasn’t a worthwhile thing to focus on. Instead, his attention goes to the gears and wheels of how the world’s major countries might plausibly establish a small population in orbit, there to live out the next few thousand years. The first two thirds of the book explore this Ultimate Prepper Challenge, and center around two protagonists: Dinah, a classically blunt-spoken uber-geek who’s a master of robots, and “Doob” Dubois, a brilliant science popularizer clearly modeled after Neil Degrasse Tyson.

It’s all well-thought-out and interesting, and I learned a lot about the issues of living and operating in space. Yet, I wasn’t totally convinced by the plot, which relies on people being able to pull off heroic feats of engineering in a compressed timeframe, under profoundly demoralizing circumstances, without anything catastrophic going wrong. While accidents happen and individual characters go on suicide missions, the main danger to the space exodus is an implausible political situation that develops around the one-third mark. NS is great at explaining technical things interestingly over many pages, but he has a tendency to cram explorations of human psychology and motives into short, reductive character sketches. The political figure was a blatant straw man for the author to whack at, and several other characters were also more “types” than people.

At around the two-thirds mark, the space colonization story runs out of steam, and enters a sequence in which the few remaining humans make a crucial decision about the genetic future of their descendents. Then, suddenly, it’s five thousand years later, and we see that humanity, now established in giant space habitats, has split into seven distinct branches, each built around a different genetic line (hence the “seven Eves”).

I enjoyed this part of the book the most. The plot involves a special team of seven, representing all the races, coming together to travel to newly terraformed Earth to investigate a mystery hinted at in part one. The speculations on how an orbiting society might function, technologically, culturally, and politically, are the kind of thing NS does well. The division of humanity into “races” with distinct personality traits and mythos might be troubling in other hands, but is an interesting thought experiment here. The story and its colorful touches are fun, and closer to classic NS than the preceding portion, though the ending wrapped everything up a little too hastily for me. I wish NS’s editor had gotten him to geek out a little less in part one, and to focus a little more on being a fiction writer.

In sum, this wasn’t my favorite in his oeuvre (that would be Cryptonomicon or Anathem), but I did enjoy it. Like Reamde, it has some notable flaws. Audiobook reader, Mary Kowal, who handles part one, is pretty bad at foreign accents and overly dramatic with some characters. Will Damron, who takes part two, is much easier on the ears.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Swithy61
  • 2016-02-11

Disappointing

What disappointed you about Seveneves?

Too much science not enough fiction.

Has Seveneves turned you off from other books in this genre?

For a while

What didn’t you like about Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron ’s performance?

The voices sounded "forced"

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointing.

Any additional comments?

This book could have been so much more. The book concept is awesome but left me disappointed in the telling. The science narrative just goes on and on ad nauseum. If you want to know every little detail of orbital mechanics or how a space station is constructed, this will be perfect. If you are looking for exploration and development of the characters, you will be disappointed.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Louise
  • 2018-06-29

Hard sci-fi, soft on character development.

All mechanics, no humanity. Narration absolutely awful, complete with terrible comedy accents. Would not recommend.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • G. Careaga
  • 2015-05-24

Bad production values

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I am only a couple of hours into it but the recording quality and narration are distractions.

Would you be willing to try another book from Neal Stephenson? Why or why not?

I usually enjoy reading Stephenson. This is the first of his I have tried as an audiobook. I'd be reluctant to try another Brilliance Audio production if this performance is representative.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

First, the recording has a tinny quality to it that is off-putting. Second, the narrator so far (MRK) has poor dialog skills with respect to switching gender and using a British accent. Her regular narration is pleasant enough and I would be enjoying the story more so far if she had stuck to that voice when doing dialog.

Was Seveneves worth the listening time?

It remains to be seen. I am sticking with it so far.

99 of 116 people found this review helpful