Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gimme that sweet astrophysics

It looks like I'm going to have to update my massive Neal Stephenson post from last year. I'm going to have to do that for the best of reasons: He wrote a new book and I need to figure out where it sits in his universe.

Neal Stephenson is the best. I just love his books. There's not a single one of his novels that I dislike, and a couple of them easily make it into my top 100 best books I've ever read list.

I'm not sure if Seveneves makes it to that select group of truly awesome books, but it's really fucking good.

Since it's a new book I'm not really sure what I can say about it because I don't want to write out spoilers or anything, but I will say that this is a book for science and sci-fi geeks. It doesn't have as much math as The Baroque Cycle or Cryptonomicon, but it's a lot heavier on physics and science than Reamde or The Diamond Are. And I love that about it. There's a ton of discussion about our solar system, about genetics, and about achieving acceleration in a vacuum. There are also a lot of words directed at social sciences stuff, so the liberal arts majors don't have to feel left out - human psychology is a huge part of this novel.

The structure of the book is interesting. It's at least two (and maybe three) distinct novels but they're spaced out instead of shuffled together like the stories in Cryptonomicon. The attitudes that the characters in the latter part of the story have on the characters in the earlier portions of the book are great and terrifying and really make you want to sit down and consider just what exactly history really is.

And also, yes, much major and loud praise should be sent Stephenson's way for writing a massive book about science and space travel that involves so many non-male, non-white, non-straight characters. Hi five, dude. You're doing it right.

Seveneves is a very good book, it's good hard sci-fi, and you should totally read it. But I'm going to stop talking about it now before I get into spoiler territory.

     - Alli

Stephenson, Neal. Seveneves. William Morrow Publishing. New York: New York. 2015.

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