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Summary

The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction. What would happen if the world were ending?

When a catastrophic event renders the Earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen 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 at once extraordinary and eerily recognizable. He explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

©2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2015 Neal Stephenson

Critic reviews

"Genius." ( Time)
"He makes reading so much fun it feels like a deadly sin." ( The New York Times)
"Fast-forward free-style mall mythology for the 21st century." (William Gibson)
"[Stephenson is] the hacker Hemingway." ( Newsweek)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Mixed feelings

The scope and ambition of this novel are staggering, and I can't think of another author who could hope pull something like this off successfully. I'm not convinced Stephenson has, but there's still much for fans to like.

The good: Stephenson's usual elements are all present and correct: physics, engineering, code breaking and a smattering of martial arts. The plot moves along at a decent clip for the most part, and the large cast is handled pretty well.

The bad: The pacing is a little uneven, and the plot losses impetus in the final third. More fat could have been trimmed in some parts too. That large cast and expansive plot don't leave too much time for character development either (with a few notable exceptions).

I'm less torn about Peter Brooke's performance. He took on a mammoth task with this one, and I'm afraid he fell short for me. He does competently for the most part, but a few of the accents were like nails on a chalkboard. If I read this again it'll be the paper version.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Soooooo... that's it?

Started strong, created, and then kinda just petered out. Ending was a bit droll. Some of the themes were questionable, and a few times hard line ideologies were unnecessarily pushed. While a few characters were interesting, most were pretty much predictable and one sided wooden personalities. For such a long book, a bit more character development, but he spent too much time stroking his own ego.

Worth a listen, but only if you ran out of things on your bucket-list.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Two or three books in one.

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

From the opening line this is a book full of emotion. For me the first two acts are the strongest and act three could have been the start of another book, but the whole is a sweeping epic that will just keep going.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Half a book

This book has no ending. It changes direction wildly half way through and then fails to deliver a full story in the new setting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Excellent until about half way through then tedium

Struggled to finish, note for the reader if you can't do accents don't even try

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Really good, then slightly annoying, then bad

This is three completely different books abutted.

The first is a really good disaster story full of tech and plot and pace.

The second meanders through dumb political shenanigans in space but there is still good stuff to keep you going.

The third is completely disconnected from what went before, hard to follow, and uninteresting.

Get it for a credit but when the narrator says 5000 years later, do what the author should have and stop there.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • LondonUnited Kingdom
  • 02-10-16

Massive yet rushed

This is one of those 'biggest story ever told' novels, end of the world is nigh and what you we going to do about it. Ends up thousands of years hence.... And yes, for such a huge listen, it feels rushed. I was sad when it ended even though the damned thing took weeks to get through.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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What A Disappointment

Would you try another book written by Neal Stephenson or narrated by Peter Brooke?

Having listened to this I'd be very dubious about listening to another Neal Stephenson book. If it wasn't for The Better Half being such a big fan I'd give up on him entirely as this is the second book of his that I've felt let down by. As for Peter Brooke? No, I found his voice to be too nasal and off-putting.

Has Seveneves put you off other books in this genre?

No, but it has considerably reduced my enthusiasm for the author...

Did Peter Brooke do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Yes he did, to a certain extent, but I didn't like his voice so that put me off a lot.

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

At first I was extremely intrigued and interested to see where he was taking the story but, the further on I got, the more disappointed I felt. I only finished it too see if it would pull itself back together at the end. It didn't.

Any additional comments?

After reading "The Diamond Age" and feeling that it was a great series of ideas that fell apart into an unintelligable mess near the end I was ready to give up on Neal Stephenson but The Better Half encouraged me to give him another try and I'm glad I did it on audiobook because there is no way I'd have persevered with this rubbish had I been reading it as a paper book. There's so many missed opportunites here. It's a book of three parts that all seem like they are rough sketches for three individual books in a series.
The first part could have been a treatise on the human condition and how it would cope with the end of the world. Instead we are introduced to a series of characters that, while having really interesting backgrounds, seem utterly devoid of emotion and we are left with something akin to a list of procedures and the human beings are just cyphers to hang the science on- a theme that continues throughout the book.
The second part could have been a truly fascinating take on a political thriller but, sadly, the main protagonists are removed from each other for most of the story, the whole thing dissolves into page after page after page (this is why I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it) of technical description of orbital mechanics and lectures on physics. It's fabulously well-researched but, by the gods is it dull, and I love this sort of geekery. Again, character and emotion is almost entirely absent. Oh, and one whole plotline is abandoned never to be heard from again (unless I missed something) in a very rushed finale.
Finally, the third part. Here we have some incredible ideas wrapped up in the thinnest of storylines but at least the robotic, emotionless nature of the characters is given some sort of reason for being so this time. A futurist vision of human society is explored in great mechanical detail but emotion is left far behind as the humans are just organic parts of the world-machine. All well and good but, just as we are given the chance to see the effect this has really had on the human race...the book just comes to an end and the entire third part comes across as a 200+ page epilogue.
I really wanted to like this. The initial premise is brilliant and the science is so well-researched but there's no life, character or human emotion here. The entire humn race is wiped out, ffs, and barely anybody bats an eyelid or sheds a tear, as they have jobs to be getting on with. There are some fabulous twists to the plot but they are all essentially wasted.
I have read that Mr. Stephenson spent nearly ten years working on this. Might I suggest that, next time, he might look to spending some of that time searching for a collaborator? Someone who can write real human beings and give a counterpoint to the hard science, perhaps.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Brilliantly done.

greatest detail since Tolkien. what else can I say. it just gets better and better

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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too long and detailed.

this is more like two stories, one of which is unfinished. I loved parts of it and the ideas are great, but too much time is spent exposing in detail how things work. enjoyed it but would have enjoyed it more if it had been ten hours shorter. and if it hadn't felt like it just tailed off at the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Laurie J.
  • 04-04-16

Narrator is really poor

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator attempted to shift voices for the different characters, but is clearly not skilled enough to do it. One of the main character's sounded like frog every time he started speaking. Regional accents the narrator attempted are way way off.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Wanda
  • 17-08-15

Not his best...

I normally love the detail that the author puts into his stories, but this time it's just too much.
My ears did the aural equivalent of my eyes glazing over. It's technical - very, very technical.
I mostly listen to my books in the car and with this one I found myself blanking out large portions.
There are interesting bits, however, so it isn't a complete washout.
Oh, and some of the accents are way off! It would have been better that the narrator didn't attempt some of them.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M. Bilgin
  • 14-01-18

Classic Neil Stephenson mired by bad reading.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Legendary actors like Daniel Day Lewis work with a voice coach and do method acting, spending weeks if not months getting into a single character that comes alive on screen for 2 hours, and will have at best 1 hour of continuous speech.

What chance does a narrator have to be faithful in reading dozens of accents from a book that has 30+ hours of voice time? None.

It detracts from the story. Every single time a character we haven't heard in 10 minutes comes back into focus, the listener is jolted with a reminder of how bad that accent rendition is.

Why do this? Why bother? Let the listener's mind fill in the accent. Cadence and intonation? By all means be expressive in the delivery of dialogue. But do not attempt to do the English accent of a Indian born tech guy... or the female voice of a Chinese American... Not unless you have the chops of Mel Blanc or Day Lewis. Where it is not outright offensive, it is distracting.

In particular, Neil Stephenson's female characters are notoriously tough. It's even explicitly said that Dinah was seen as a tom-boy. So why adopt this whiny voice...

... exasperating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Munish
  • 18-10-16

what did i just waste my time on?

got it reccomended by a friend, the book is a neverending introduction with a forced conclusion. there are some interesting aspects and ideas sprinkled here and there, but noone of them are explored in any meaningful way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Saki Bergh
  • 27-05-18

Astounding

Anyone is allowed to have an opinion about a book they have read or listened to. When it concerns any book Neal Stephenson has written, that’s all it would be. An personal opinion. All of his books are astonishing feats of writing. A columnists, for say the New York Times, who review books, or any columnist, can also only comment or give his or her’s opinion on any of his books. Review or judge is not something they can even begin to do. It’s like the only person that can judge how good Muhammad Ali was, is someone that’s beaten him in a fight

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-17

magnificent storyline, fantastic narration

the story by Stephenson was amazing, and I am truly sad the story is over. I would not have minded him describing some intermediate stages in some more detail to stretch it a bit, but probably his choice to jump 5000 years ahead in one go is for the better.

peter brooke made the characters of the story stand out, and kept suspense in his way of narrating. very well done!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 21-10-17

Another awesome epic journey

This was epic and detailed in a similar vein to Cryptonomicon, the last Neal Stephenson book I listened to.
Similar to that it's the type of book I just couldn't stop once started.
The level of detail and explanation is amazing, the space science, orbital mechanics and other info like the discussion of space superstructures.
The progress of time and changes over which characters are the focus was also done well.
There was a couple of times that the explanation of a persons back story happened before even having an idea of why we should care. Simply having a line about them being a TV reporter or some such would have helped a little.

Still it was enjoyable and fun. I loved it.
Thank you Neal and all those who made this.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dale Williams
  • 26-02-17

Fascinating journey into the future

True to Stephenson's style, Seveneves chronicles a plausible journey into our future. There are many elements present that you will recognize from his previous works but these created a sense of familiarity in me rather than overuse. My overriding comment on the content is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  • Thomas
  • 17-01-17

great sci fi

like two books in one. If you liked Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars you Will love this one.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 06-09-16

Great idea- and start - last third dragged on

Loved the idea, just dragged on a bit. Narrator not a great job with the different voices