Seveneves - Neal Stephenson “Adapters were also floating around that would facilitate nose-to-nose coupling, but these had been found to be not as useful as the hep and tri frames.” So this is what happens when an engineer writes a novel. The perfect example of a narrative which depicts absolutely cataclysmic events but still manages to be wake-me-when-he’s-finished dull. Despite a mouth-watering pulp premise – moon explodes, all life on Earth extinguished, humanity frantically evacuates to space – we spend much of the time exploring the finer details of the removal of excess heat from the International Space Station, the apogee and perigee of various important chunks of ice, apps to track Bolide Fragmentation Rates and on and on and on. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Except eventually you realise this stuff isn’t there as a grace note, this is the basis of the whole 700 page novel. I have two science degrees and my eye started skipping over whole paragraphs so I could get to the blessed relief of the next meagre plot development. So one splinter group resorts to cannibalism? Meh. I’m a sucker for hardcore scientific realism in my science fiction but not when the author is clearly having multiple nerdgasms. Yes, there are some short sequences (particularly when Earth finally buys the farm) that are moving but I found a weird lack of affect throughout, it’s like the authorial voice is the unflappable NASA mission control voice, or HAL. Deliberate, I suspect. Then there is Stephenson’s much noted tendency to introduce some fleeting character and launch into a mega-paragraph of background only for us never to meet that character again (e.g. the lawyer; met once, mega-paragraph of backstory, never seen or referred to again). I want to read more of Stephenson’s work and I’m going to trust “Seveneves” (a title that is cleverly rationalised) just rubbed me up the wrong way but his epic “Cryptonomicon” regularly appears on lists of people only claim to have read and I don’t believe this guy is on the side of the honest reader. Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Aurora” remains my recent preferred example of how to do something like this properly. “Seveneves” is the sort of novel James “Terminator” Cameron would describe as awesome. Not what you want from your art form.