Saturday, 30 March 2019

I only get naked for math

For some reason I decided upon reading SevenEves (or is it Seven Eves?), Neal Stephenson's 900-page science fiction novel that I have in my possession for some reason, despite it not containing any pictures, or battles between ripped truck drivers and post apocalyptic vampire hooker biker gangs, and as you know I require at least one of those two things in my entertainment or the chances of me making it to the end are touch and go at best.  I guess if Pewdiepie can review a philosophy book - even if it's only one written by beef fetishist and professional Kermit impersonator Jordan Peterson - I can probably impart my impressions of this, and I am pretty sure I can even get to the end of this review without endorsing far right extremism or exclaiming a racial slur.
SevenEves is about the moon blowing up and pelting the Earth with Moon bits and everyone dies OR DO THEY etc and then some people in orbit fight among themselves and then they go live on some Moon bits and gen-et-ik-ally en-gin-eer their kids because from the entire human race there's only seven women left - the Seven Eves of the title - and their kids become Star Trek races 5000 years later but some people were left behind on the surface and they weren't keen about their ancestors being left to die via flaming radioactive moon bits, so some disagreements ensue...
This was a very long and dry reading experience for me, and I had some nitpicks, but mainly I had issues with the long, long, long descriptions of technical stuff like orbits, and the disjointed nature of the overall narrative wherein there are three parts to the book, but the third part just jumps ahead into the far future with a whole new bunch of characters and settings.  It brought me back to my attempt to read a Tom Clancy book many years ago that I had a bit of trouble with because the Russian characters were addicted to eating sardines or something like that - the cold war was a crazy time for us all, clearly - and it seemed like there was very little by way of actual story, just walls of text so the writer could illustrate they'd done the research.
I think I only read this because it struck me as similar-sounding to The Wandering Earth, whose movie adaptation I recently watched, though there's not much in the way of similarity apart from the general apocalyptic scenarios and the notion of humanity's survival being a multi-generational endeavour.  The Wandering Earth movie was heckin-dumb-but-brief, and while I am sure SevenEves is very smart by golly it is a drag to read.  I can see the movie version being one of those non-linear narratives where the future stuff is intercut with the stuff in the present to spread out the dullness and create some cliffhangers, but as a linear exercise I can never quite shake the notion that the wrong characters were being followed by the novel, and that all the interesting stories - the survivors on the surface of a devastated Earth, the astronauts that resort to cannibalism as a practicality - were ignored.

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