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Wednesday reading - Seveneves

I finished, at long last! Unspoilery thoughts:
* I enjoyed the first two thirds for the human drama aspect.
* The last third was not worth reading - if you want to know how it goes, get someone to spoil it for you.
* Neal Stephenson would stop mid-coitus to tell you how condoms work. At length. At least three times.

Spoilery thoughts:
Seriously, the exposition in this is terrible. I wouldn't mind him telling me these things if he weren't so actively bad at it. His trust in the reader's intelligence is nil.

He also had a habit of leaving out the parts I was most interested in - the Swarm's descent into cannibalism, that period before the Big Ride when almost everyone on Izzy died (which he tells us about after the fact!), the first years in Cleft.

I found his far future deeply unconvincing. As a review said, he seems to have no grasp of how long five thousand years is. I realize having extant documents and video might affect thing like language shifts somewhat, but still. Also he seems to think that interpersonal relations among the seven women would be maintained by their respective descendants for the next five millennia, with no deviation. For that matter, the racial essentialism (is that a phrase?) was really stunning in this.

The thing I got most irritated with, though, was the moral framing of the various characters and societies. Julia is a caricature whose only point of complexity - that she's been depressed most of her life, and chose to go off depressants - isn't introduced until her very last pages. The swarm falls into cannibalism off screen. In the future, the Blues are always the POV characters, while the one Julian we encounter turns out to be a traitor and the Diggers are misogynistic and emotionally abusive.

In general, our POV characters always make the sympathetic and reasonable choice while everyone else is off being devious, paranoid, outright psychotic, or small-minded and intellectually inflexible, and in something with a social setup this complex, that is just unforgivable.

I definitely won't forget this anytime soon, and some parts of it were truly affecting. When Dinah and Rufus signed off for the last time, I teared up a little. But it was still Not a Very Good Book, and it will not be on my Hugo ballot.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

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